Low German and Mennonite Information
Old Order Mennonites:
Mennonite is the name given to members of a Christian sect; the history of this religious group in Canada can be found on the Mennonite Historical Society webpage, along with general Mennonite matters, on the MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) website. Local Old Order Mennonite groups in Ontario trace their origins in Canada back to the United States; they migrated to the Waterloo area from Pennsylvania to obtain land and religious freedom.
In AMDSB, Old Order Mennonite students in our schools belong to the Independent Old Order Mennonite group; they wear distinctive clothing and participate in a family based culture that emphasizes simplicity, sameness, pacifism, and communal values. David Martin Mennonites speak a dialect of German that is commonly called "Pennsylvania Dutch;" they are unique among conservative Old Order groups because they choose to send their children to public schools. High German remains the language of religion and ceremony in Old Order Communities, while Pennsylvania Dutch is used for everyday life; this dialect is also spoken by many Amish and in the past was common among Lutheran and Catholic families in Europe. Today, children are also permitted to learn English. Most Old Order students leave school at age 14 and are then considered part of the adult community.
For more information on local Mennonite heritage please go to:
Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia
In Search of the Promised Lands
Low German Speaking Mennonites:
Low German speaking Mennonites originally came to Canada from Western Russia and settled in places like Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba; there are still Low German speaking Mennonite colonies there today. Most of Ontario's Low German families, however, left Canada and immigrated to Mexico and other Latin American countries after laws in the Western provinces changed around turn of the 20th Century and no longer allowed Mennonites freedom to educate their children in their own language and according to their religious customs. In terms of AMDSB, many of our families were originally in Saskatchewan and migrated to the Durango area. Today, as Canada has shifted away from such assimilationist policies, and returned to its original multiculturalism, Low German families are finding a place for themselves in Ontario schools where they can obtain education for their children which is accepting of their differences. Low German students may dress distinctively or not; it depends upon the culture and religious group that they belong to.
For more information please go to:
A Village Among Nations