From refugee to suburbanite : the survival and acculturation of North Kildonan Mennonite immigrant women, 1927-1947

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Regehr, Olga Dyck
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The history of the immigrants who belonged to the Mennonite Brethren congregations in North Kildonan, Manitoba, during the 1930s and 1940s has not been told in its entirety. While it is true that there have been many Mennonite renditions of stories related to men's achievements and church struggles, very little has been disclosed regarding women's struggles of survival during their first pioneer years. Women's history has been a well-kept secret. We do not know how these women bore the burden of resettling in desolate prairie homes after leaving their organized life in Ukraine, nor what their everyday lives were like in the first year of their diaspora. We do not know how arduous their work loads were, nor how they skimped and saved to make a future for their daughters that was better than working as domestics. We do not know how courageously they stood behind their husbands in daring new business ventures. But we do know that it is time to study and inquire about such issues. Therefore, this thesis tells an 'inside' story about the ordinary lives of Mennonite immigrant women in North Kildonan. It must be noted that there were two options available to these women, namely, that they live in segregation from the rest of society and in a continuum of their old traditional ways, or that they acculturate to a new cultural reality in their new homeland. They opted for the latter.