‘God Keep our Land Glorious and Free’
Written by: Linda Maendel on Sunday, May 13th, 2012
Canada, with its many immigrants is like a beautiful patchwork quilt. People from various countries have settled on our rich farmlands or in thriving towns and cities, proudly calling this home. This kaleidoscope of sights, sounds, tastes and customs gives our country a rich folkloric vista. Each ethnic group is like a quilt piece, adding its own unique colour or texture, and is stitched together with common respect, creating a spectacular whole.
I got a glimpse of this recently, when we celebrated ‘Sharing Our World’ in Portage La Prairie. Twenty three ethnic groups from the surrounding area gathered to share their world. Each had a booth with a display of artefacts, clothes, art, pictures, books, crafts and musical instruments. Some came dressed in their traditional costume, lending a vibrant and festive air to this special day.
I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to share our Hutterite way of life with people stopping by our booth. “It’s just great that you’re here!” Someone told me. “It’s important for people to understand your unique culture.”
Walking among the booths I heard conversations in various languages including: the Ukraine, First Nations, Pakistan, Germany, Mexico, Nigeria and the Philippines. And English united us all. Not as miraculous as Pentecost, where everybody heard their own tongue when the apostles were speaking, nevertheless mingling and sharing with different cultures resonates ‘peace on earth’ at least in our little corner. This must be how God wants the whole world to live.
Mary Lynn Moffat, Coordinator of Portage Community Revitalization Corporation (PCRC) was pleased with the turn out: “It is wonderful to showcase the different cultures and learn about the traditions, customs and values they all bring to our community.”
We had the rare opportunity to feast on a variety of delicious dishes, while watching lively performances: choirs, duets, jigs and a powwow. One of the selections our High School Choir sang was ‘Points of Light’:
…One by one, from the mountain to the sea,
Points of light are calling out to you and me.
If you see what’s wrong and you try to make it right,
You will be a point of light.
As I sat down with a mountain of ethnic foods, my taste buds were doing a celebratory jig of their own. There were perogies from the Ukraine, biryani from Pakistan, arroz con pollo from Panama, spiced lamb, rice, pork, bannock, tacos, Jamaican sweet potato pudding and lots more. Our contribution was Zucker Honkelich (sugar pie), Schuttn Honkelich (cottage cheese pie) and fresh buns with jam.
This experience caused me to reflect on how the Hutterites fit into this cultural collage. With our rich history, unique language and community of goods lifestyle, we’re a distinctive addition, blending with and contributing to the whole. Furthermore, we have a lot to be thankful for. As Hutterites we enjoy freedom of religion, serve on various committees, obtain invitations to perform at events such as Citizenship Ceremonies and have our work published in newspapers. We are indeed reaping the benefits of what our forefathers fought for – a people serving God as taught in the New Testament.
(I wrote this last year after ‘Share our World’. We just took part in the same event this year – to see pictures, go to Portage Online.)