Erin Froese
Photo courtesy of Erin Froese

Erin Froese is the 2017 recipient of the MCC Thrift Shop Founders scholarship, which is awarded annually by MCC Manitoba.

Erin Froese is the recipient of the 2017 MCC Thrift Shop Founders Scholarship, which is awarded annually to a student whose degree program aligns with MCC’s areas of focus, and who shows a commitment to serving their community, the world and the church.

Froese is a fourth-year environmental studies major, who studies the intersections of faith, ecology and relationships at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU). She anticipates graduating in 2019.

The scholarship is funded by MCC Thrift Shops within Manitoba and was named in honour of founders Linie Friesen, Selma Loewen, Susan Giesbrecht and Sara Stoesz who opened the first MCC Thrift Shop in Altona in 1972. Forty five years later, their vision has grown into a North American network of over 100 shops, producing income for the programs of MCC.

The scholarship from MCC Manitoba removes some of the financial burden of higher education, and allows Froese to continue to take classes she’s passionate about.

“A number of my courses at CMU involve topics of Indigenous and settler relations. My first year Peace and Conflict Transformation Studies course talked about the brokenness that exists in Canada. That was something that was very interesting to me and was a thread throughout my degree. It continually comes up in different classes and I try to write papers about where our place is as the church in building right relationships with Indigenous people and the community,” she says.

The scholarship has encouraged Froese to continue volunteering in her community—this commitment was a primary reason why she was awarded the scholarship, says Darryl Loewen, MCC Manitoba’s executive director.

Participants in the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights on the road between Kitchener and Ottawa, Ontario.Photo courtesy of Erin Froese

Froese has volunteered at Camps with Meaning for many years, and last winter, she helped organize a pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights with Mennonite Church Canada. Participants walked 600 kilometres from Kitchener to Ottawa, Ontario to raise awareness and advocate for Bill C-262, a bill which calls for the adoption and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP).

“The pilgrimage was a chance for me to take this thread of learning to a space outside of the classroom where it was an enactment of the things I’ve been trying to study—the church trying to engage in building right relationships,” she explains.

Participants in the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights are pictured at the final rally in Ottawa. Left to right: Leah Gazan, Kathy Moorhead Thiessen, Erin Froese, Steve Heinrichs and Chuck Wright.Photo courtesy of Erin Froese

Froese is no stranger to MCC. Her grandparents Arthur and Kathleen Driedger served abroad with MCC for years, and Arthur served as MCC Manitoba’s first executive director. Froese’s other grandmother, Margaret Froese has volunteered for MCC in some capacity since 1972. She currently works in the material resources centre helping to make quilts to ship oversees, among other things.

This legacy inspires Froese to keep working for change in whatever ways she can. 

“I’m encouraged by my family and the ways they’ve been engaged in volunteer work and committing themselves to things they care about,” she says. Currently she’s working as a mentor in a program called Careers that Fight Climate Change, engaging youth in the inner city in different activities to build climate change resiliency. 

Froese’s drive to contribute to her community makes her a perfect candidate for the scholarship, according to Loewen.

“We’re inspired by young people like Erin who are committed to community-building and reconciliation. It’s an honour to encourage students like her through scholarship awards because these young people embody what MCC is about, and we hope, will become a part of MCC’s future too.”

For more information about MCC scholarships, click here.

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