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Yarrow, British Columbia

Edited by
Esther Epp Harder, Edwin Lenzmann, and Elmer Wiens

Immigration & Relief

For many years, George G. Baerg and Abram A. Wiens were involved in the work of MCC and its predecessor organizations. Wiens was especially active in assisting post World War II newcomers to BC with issues related to settlement and citizenship. Quite a few of these new Canadians settled in Yarrow. Additionally, he helped create and supervise an MCC depot on his property in Yarrow. From this depot clothing was sent to other parts of the world.

The Chilliwack Progress December 4, 1946

Deny 2,000 Are Coming Here From Europe
Mennonites Say Immigration Story "Wishful Thinking"

"Wishful thinking".

This was the term used by leaders of Yarrow's Mennonite colon to describe stories that 2,000 refuge members of their faith now in Europe were being brought to British Columbia.

"Naturally we would like to help our relatives by getting them out of Europe." A.A. Wiens, secretary of the B.C. Mennonite Relief Committee told The Progress Friday. "But so far we have no permission from the government to do so, nor do we know when we will be able to get them out of Europe. All we are doing now is sending supplies of food and clothing. We are preparing ourselves for the time when we can send these relatives to any country in the world.

Relatives here were forwarding transportation money to the Mennonite colonization committee where it is held in trust until-if and when-it can be used to pay the transportation costs of relatives. There is no indication of when the transportation will be available.

In a prepared statement, Mr. Wiens said: "After the publication of the immigration regulations to Canada, some of the Mennonites here have applied to the Canadian government for admission of their close relatives to Canada. These relatives today are scattered over all Western Europe and many of them are starving. The statement about the coming of these people was a surprise to us. Like many other groups in Canada, the Mennonites have organized a relief committee to help their stranded relatives. For this purpose they are canning meat and collecting clothing etc. The same organization has helped to relieve the suffering of many people in war torn Europe and Great Britain.

He estimates that not more than 20 percent of Mennonite families would have refuge relatives in Europe. There are about 300 families in Yarrow, Councillor John Martens estimates.

10,000 IN EUROPE

There are about 10,000 individuals scattered all over Europe. About 450 are in Holland.

As Mr. Wiens understands it, the government has decided that refugees-mothers, fathers, unmarried brothers and sisters and orphans under 16 will be admitted to Canada when transportation facilities permit. The order applies not only to Mennonites, but refuge relatives of all people in Europe.

H.G. Sukkau, to whom the original story was attributed told The Progress that he had been misinterpreted.

Meantime, in Vancouver, Tom Reid, Liberal MP for New Westminster said: "I think it's a mistake to bring groups into Canada and settle them in groups. I don't think we should allow Doukhobors, Mennonites or even Scots to come to this country if they going to stick together in communities. I can take you today to parts of the Fraser Valley where English is never spoken. That's not good enough. This is no use bringing in the unassimable.


Leaders of the local Mennonite colony expressed regret that the picture had been presented as it had been in the daily press and over the national network of the CBC and stressed the fact that they were asking for no special privileges. "If you had homeless relatives in Europe, you'd want to do what you could for them too," one spokesman declared. "We are doing exactly what a great many other national and religious groups are doing. There is no question of mass immigration.

The Chilliwack Progress May 11, 1949

A.A. Wiens Speaks at Farwell for Couple
Mennonite Relief Aids Many Needy Nations

Population of 480,000 Mennonites in the world make up 1/40 of one per cent of world population. A.A. Wiens, provincial Mennonite relief committee secretary stated in an address on Mennonites and their activities.

He spoke at a farewell given Mr. and Mrs. David Quopp who left Yarrow recently to aid in relief work in Europe in Mennonite Central Committee.

Among the Mennonite there are about 19 different religious denominations, but they are united into the Mennonite Central committee which has headquarters in Pennsylvania.

During the war, relief work was done in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Spain, China and Paraguay. As soon as the war ended, the biggest relief program in Mennonite history was started.

About $13,500,000 has been spent on clothing, food parcels and money orders sent by Mennonites in Canada and the United States. Many thousands of refugees and displaced persons have been assisted.

Today Mennonites have 245 workers carrying on relief work in Germany, France, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Hungary, Palestine, Poland, Ethiopia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Philippines, Porto Rico, China and Japan.

The speaker pointed out that gifts made by Mennonites in Canada and United States amounted to only about 3 cents per person per day. Through these small donations, the work of the last five years has been accomplished.

About 11,000 homeless Mennonites have through the Mennonite Central Committee been established in new homes.

"To help needy people, disregarding of creed denomination is the only way to minimize the misfortune of many nations as to prevent future disaster," the speaker asserted.

Although there are Mennonites on all seven continents, the largest group is in North America.

Canada has 110,000; the United States, 180,000; Mexico, 10,000; and South America, 12,000.

European division shows Holland has 70,000; Germany, 15,000; France 2,000; Switzerland, 2,000.

In European sector of Soviet Russia there were formerly 40,000 Mennonites, 30,000 of whom were displaced persons during the war. About 10,000 are believed to be in British, American and French zones of Germany. Greater part of them, through aid of Mennonite Central committee found new homes in Canada, United States, Paraguay and Uruguay.

In Asia many are found in Siberia where they have been sent by the Soviet government to work in slave labour camps. Others are in various parts of Siberia. Total Russian Mennonites are estimated at 40,000.

There may still be remnants of Mennonite settlements in Turkestan where they lived before the Russian revolution in prosperous communities. Some young men enlisted in French Foreign Legion and others went to live in China, but since the revolution, most of the Mennonites from China have come to the United States.

In Palestine, near Jerusalem, several hundred lived in two communities, but were driven out during the war between the Arabs and Israelites. They were taken by British armed forces to the island of Cyprus and from there emigrated to Australia.


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