Friday, October 25, 2019 - 8:00am to 4:00pm

Did you attend this important conference? We would love to hear how this conference has impacted your work with the Low German speaking community and how we can better support your work.

Complete the evaluation


Low German speaking families are making Perth County as their home. They are newcomers to Ontario and live in our communities.  Anyone who connects with this population and is interested in learning more is invited to attend this conference for service providers.

Learn and deepen your understanding of the religious and cultural characteristics of the Low German speaking community to enhance the effectiveness of supports, services and programs.


Culture, history and faith of the Low German speaking Mennonites with Anne Wall, MSW

This session will include a brief overview of Mennonites discussing the foundations which unite all Mennonite groups and will explore issues such as pacifism, education, gender roles and the impact of cultural values versus faith-based doctrine. It will also address the distinctive beliefs and sensitivities to be aware of when working with the Low German speaking Mennonite (Dietsche) population.

Anne is employed as a Kinship Finder at Elgin-St Thomas Family and Children's Services. She has presented numerous times at the Annual Networking conferences and through her story telling presentations, listeners are able to develop a greater awareness and understanding of the complexities of the Low German culture, “Colony” perspectives and settlement in Ontario.  She is an awesome storyteller sharing personal experiences about growing up within a Low German speaking home and how she has lived/worked within and outside the Low German speaking worlds. Anne and her husband are parenting two young adults and one teenager.  Anne was born in a colony in Mexico and migrated with her family to Canada when she was three years old.   

What’s with the double surnames? with Helen Bergen

Low German families from Latin America traditionally name their children based on the names that already exist within the culture. These cultural interpretations of naming children can however conflict with the legislative expectations of a Latin American country and may create confusion and complications for the person and the service provider  when these practices are not understood.

Helen Bergen works at Mennonite Community Services in Aylmer and fulfills two roles: Settlement Services Manager and a Radio Host at DeBrigj  105.9FM ( Low German Radio station) . Helen and her family lived in Durango Mexico and migrated to Canada in 1987.  While living in Mexico, Helen’s family experienced a strong Canadian influence and when they settled in Ontario, she enjoyed attending public education institutions.  

Bridging the gaps with Susan Macphail

"Cultural Humility” is a life long process of openness and curiosity that helps us to foster relationships and partnerships. It involves introspection and co-learning when it comes to cultural awareness

Susan will guide us in self-reflection to continue the journey of growth and understanding as we work with the Low German Speaking Community.

Susan has worked in social service and health sectors for several decades with a focus on working with individuals and communities and her experience has led her to help initiate several innovative programs and services to promote community wellness. Susan was a previous Director of Community and Women’s Programs at Canadian Mental Health Association Middlesex. 

Living Library

An unique opportunity to get indepth and interactive in small groups with a guest who is or was from the Low German speaking community or has worked extensively with this population.


  • 8:00 AM: Registration and refreshments
  • 8:45 AM: Opening remarks
  • 9:00 AM: Culture, history and faith of the Low German speaking Mennonites with Anne Wall, MSW
  • 10:30 AM: Living Library
  • 11:30 AM: What's with the double surnames? with Helen Bergen
  • 12:30 PM: Lunch (included)
  • 1:15 PM: Bridging the gaps with Susan Macphail
  • 2:00 PM: Interactive group activity
  • 3:00 PM: Evaluation and closing

Registration $75.00

Registration closes October 17th.

Please note: If you are registering a number of staff people from one organization, please provide the e-mail address of each person as these are required for completion of the evaluation. 

Register Today

This conference is planned in conjunction with Mennonite Central Committee, Perth District Public Health, City of Stratford and Avon Maitland District School Board.