Queer Hutterite: Misfit on the Colony

The following story is not “new news”, but one that SNFC feels is important to highlight and share. Kelly Hofer is a photographer and gay-rights activist based in Calgary. Here is his story:

Kelly Hofer knew he wasn’t a fit from the start. At the age of nineteen he came out on Facebook, after leaving the Hutterite colony near Wawanesa, Manitoba, the only home he had ever known. The reaction by his people was extreme. Hear him tell his story in the video, Queer Hutterite: Misfit on the Colony.

Circle of Trust for Parents

The Parent Circle meets every second Wednesday of the month at Steinbach United Church, 541 Main St. from 7-9 p.m.
Steinbach Neighbours for Community invites parents of LGBTTQI* children and youth to a space of discovery, parent to parent, about our journey in our community. We look forward to our conversations, guided by Bonnie Loewen.

Parent Circle: A Circle of Trust

The Parent Circle meets every second Wednesday of the month at Steinbach United Church, 541 Main St. from 7-9 p.m, with the exception of Jan. 9, 2019.
Steinbach Neighbours for Community invites parents of LGBTTQI children and youth to a space of discovery, parent to parent, about our journey in our community. We look forward to our conversations, guided by Bonnie Loewen.

Steinbach Pride March – July 21, 2018

Steinbach’s third annual Pride March was held in downtown Steinbach on Saturday, July 21. SNFC was pleased to be represented by committee member  Pearl Barz, who delivered an incisive address calling for our citizens to seek and find that common ground above and beyond our differences. Read a full account of the event here.

Pearl’s message:

Good morning, my name is Pearl and I am speaking to you this morning on behalf of Steinbach Neighbours for Community. We are a group of people, mostly local, but some from surrounding communities as well, who care about many forms of diversity and equality in our communities. For now we have identified and are focusing on the needs and challenges being faced among the LGBTTQI.

Our resources have been put into having conversations, to provide insight, education and understanding, working to network and build bridges beyond one’s immediate social network. We want to promote greater inclusion for all people throughout Southeastern Manitoba, fostering healthy and wholesome communities.

Over the summer months Pride parades and marches will be taking place all across Canada. We want to embrace events like this that work towards inclusion, acceptance and understanding of our neighbours, a place where we can all find common ground.

Today we want to celebrate the people in our community who are making a difference. Today that is you, our neighbours. We all have opportunities every day to change the world. It’s amazing what the efforts of an individual or group of individuals can do to create change, if not in the world at least their local neighbourhood. 

Over the years I have had the privilege of listening to some wonderful Indigenous speakers. Often speakers start their address to a group with the phrase “to all my relations”. As I researched that phrase, taking a closer look, I learned that it is an Ojibwe phrase meaning – we are related, or all are related.  Their understanding is that all living things are connected, to each other and to the Creator, the Higher Power. I cannot exist without you and you cannot exist without me. What I do affects you and others and what you do affects me. Everything we do has an effect on others and on our world.

It seems to be a call to unity, nothing or no one matters more or less than the next person. The phrase brings us into harmony and equality with each other as we find common ground with everyone and everything.

What can we do in our communities to bring us to this place, this place of unity? We can celebrate each other, living together as neighbours, valuing each person for who they are. Pride is about the varied expressions of the life, gifts, and talents of the entire community. 

Being different from each other doesn’t mean that we can’t be unified, even disagreeing doesn’t mean we can’t find common ground. Unity isn’t about being the same; it’s about accepting our differences and still being good neighbours, choosing to love and respect each other. We need to create an inclusive society that over-rides any differences, a community that ensures inclusion and equality of opportunity of all its members.

So, I will borrow the Ojibwe phrase and say – “to all my relations” – let our words, attitudes, actions and involvements make our communities better places for everyone, celebrating our differences as we learn to find that common ground and live together as good neighbours. 

Thank you.

Connecting Neighbours

Saturday February 24, 9:30 am – 4:30 pm
Pat Porter Centre, 10 Chrysler Gate, Steinbach

Five presenters have been invited to share their knowledge and experience, as we explore a variety of topics relevant to our community. Full descriptions of each session can be found on our home page.  There will be all-day refreshments and lunch at noon. Admission is free, and donations to cover costs are welcome. We hope to see you there!

 

Movie Night: Prayers for Bobby

Friday, October 27 at 7:00 p.m.
Steinbach Cultural Arts Centre, 304-2nd St.
Free Admission

Steinbach Neighbours for Community invites you to a movie night. Prayers for Bobby is a true story. Mary Griffith fights to “cure” her gay son. Although he tries to please his mother, Bobby cannot change, and his depression leads to suicide. Mary questions her faith and searches for comfort, ultimately changing her views in ways that she never could have imagined. A touching and ultimately healing story.

Join us for an opportunity to reflect and engage in conversation as this movie invites us to take a deeper look at a family divided and how they find strength and truth. For more information, contact neighboursforcommunity@gmail.com.

Second Pride March for Steinbach

July 15, 2017: Attendees at the 2017 Pride March used words like “peaceful”, “more accepting”, and “much more relaxed” to describe the atmosphere at this year’s event. Recently retired minister, George Feenstra, likened it to “a church picnic, it’s so peaceful and gentle and good.” SNFC committee member, Gay Boese, was invited to speak, and you can read her message to the community here. Other reviews, videos and photos can be perused on the following sites:

CBC.ca: ‘Absolutely amazing’: Hundreds flock to Manitoba’s Bible Belt for Steinbach’s 2nd Pride march

The Winnipeg Sun: Second Steinbach Pride Parade a success

Laughter is Sacred Space, May 12, 2017, SRSS Theatre

Steinbach Neighbours for Community, in partnership with Eden Health Care Services, welcomes the return of Ted Swartz, who brought us Listening for Grace two years ago. Laughter is Sacred Space is part of Ted’s Human Faces Tour in recognition of Mental Health Awareness month.

In this gritty and dramatic show, Ted walks us through his relationship with friend and business partner, Lee Eshleman, whose death by suicide stunned his community. Ted explores the paradox of working with a comedic partner struggling with bipolar disorder, as well as the challenge of writing and performing stories about God while experiencing the absence of God after Lee’s death. Using multi-media and his twenty years of storytelling experience, Laughter is Sacred Space is honest, funny and vulnerable, and reveals the unique journey of working as a comedic actor under the shadow of a mental illness, offering hope and humour in a way that only Ted could deliver.
You can learn more about Ted Swartz and find a preview of the play at: http://www.tedandcompany.com/shows/laughter-is-sacred-space/
Tickets are $12, available now at the Steinbach Arts Centre.

Still Listening…Let’s Talk!

Steinbach Neighbours for Community invites you to an informal evening of conversation on February 9, 2017,   7 p.m. at the Steinbach Cultural Arts Centre, 302 Second St.

We continue to follow up on the interest generated by Still Listening…Voices Among Us, aware that safe and meaningful conversation is a goal highly appreciated in our community. We hope that the relaxed atmosphere and the promise of wholesome dialogue will encourage you to join us. There will be snacks:)

Hanover School Division Policies

At separate meetings of the Hanover School Division Trustees, presentations were made by Michelle McHale (parent), and Mika Schellenberg (SRSS student) asking Hanover School Division Trustees to re-write their policies to protect LGBTTQI* youth from bullying, to welcome teachers to speak about LGBTTQI* issues in their classrooms, to allow teachers to protect the confidentiality of LGBTTQI* youth who are in conversation with them, and to provide curriculum that is inclusive of same-sex families. SNFC members were present for Mika’s presentation where she received a standing ovation.

At the June 7th public meeting of the Hanover School Division Trustees, each trustee offered a response to the requests of Michelle McHale and Mika Schellenberg.  While two trustees spoke strongly in favor of revising policies regarding “Sensitive Content”, others were strongly opposed.  As a result of comments made by a few of the trustees, Michelle McHale and her partner lodged a Human Rights Complaint, which is now in process.

tc_local_Michelle-McHale

tc_local_HSD-trustees mika-schellenberg-presents-to-hsd

From the Media:

Still Listening: Voices Among Us

voices-among-us-oct-2016

October 28 and 29, 2016

Steinbach Neighbours for Community presented Still Listening:Voices Among Us to full houses on October 28 and 29, 2016 at the SRSS Theatre in Steinbach.

Voices Among Us is a collection of stories as told by people living in our community. These stories, delivered through theatre, poetry and music, represent a wide range of people, some who identify as LGBTTQI*; other accounts come from family, friends and allies. Each story is being lived by the person who was willing to share their narrative with us and with you, our audience.

The play was well received, and comments included large measures of gratitude for the strides being made in making room for conversation in our community.

 

Vigil for Orlando

June 14, 2016, Tuesday, 8 p.m.  

K.R. Barkman Park, Steinbach

Steinbach Neighbours For Community, along with Steinbach Pride, invited the public to attend a vigil in response to the June 12th massacre in Orlando, Florida, in which forty-nine people were killed and more than fifty wounded while attending a gay nightclub.  The event, which drew 200 people, included speeches from several local and provincial spokespeople, as well as the reading of the names of the victims.

Media Links:

Listening for Grace

October 17, 2015

SRSS Theatre, Steinbach

Steinbach Neighbours for Community brought “Listening for Grace” to the city in an endeavour to open up a grace-filled dialogue about the LGBTTQ* presence in our community. Produced by Ted Swartz, Listening for Grace is a compelling and enlightening play that follows the story of a widowed father whose son has just come out as gay. Through his relationships with his son, an estranged cousin, people in his church and a pastor who deals with issues of sexuality in the Bible, the main character is challenged by many different viewpoints and experiences.

LFG Poster

The advance billing was so well received that SNFC had to add a second show. About 375 people attended.

Link to Carillon article

More information about Ted Swartz