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Along the Road to Freedom

Dec 02, 2017

'Along the Road to Freedom - Mennonite women of courage and faith' features 26 paintings by Winnipeg artist Ray Dirks.

From revolutionary times through World War II, the lives of Mennonites were torn apart in Russia. Along the Road to Freedom honours the suffering, courage, faith, and love of women who brought their families to peace and freedom in Canada, mostly coming from what is now Ukraine. Many were widows, their husbands having been taken, often murdered. Their extraordinary stories need to be remembered.

The exhibit features families who have been Mennonite for many generations. For most, their stories include suffering in their homelands. Seeking peace, military exemption, and places they could practice their faith, they moved first to Poland and eventually to Russia. Persecution, especially from the time of the Russian Revolution through World War II, caused many to attempt to fee again.

A spirit of graciousness and a lack of a desire for revenge, even forgiveness, flows through the stories of many of the featured women. Survival was difficult, most existed in a form of hell on earth for long periods, many lost family members--murdered, tortured, starved, thrown in to the Soviet Gulag, a massive system of forced labour camps--never to return. Even so, many left this earth having reputations that reflected humility, decency, love, grace, and faith.

Discover the stories of grace and humility, trial and sorrow, love and family, faith and strength--real people in real situations, struggling to survive and, whether they knew or acknowledged it or not, possibly fragile and certainly imperfect, maybe even broken, they were and are heroes. We thank them. We thank God.

The exhibition is featured in the Atrium and closes January 30, 2018.