One day this past summer, we were hanging out at the Forks, as Manitobans do. We had gone to check out this trippy sculpture by Ai Weiwei. It’s made up of 1254 bicycles!
As we strolled the paths, we suddenly encountered a few Mennonite-related aspects to the signage that we didn’t remember seeing there before. Typically when we’re at the Forks, we do not think about Mennonites at all. Usually we think about art (as illustrated above), beer, neat shops, tasty food, and history. This site has been significant to the Cree, Oji-Cree, Assiniboine, Dakota, and Ojibwe people long before any European settlers ever set foot on North American soil.
There are many educational signs at the Forks. After all, there’s a lot to explain about the place.
But this summer we stumbled upon this — a sign with a picture of my ancestors!
Okay okay okay it’s true, you absolutely cannot tell who’s who in that low-resolution picture of like 150 Mennonites all squished onto a steamboat. But I do know I’m descended from several of them. And I never expected to see a picture of them at the Forks. Accompanied by a write-up describing Icelandic immigrants in 1875, the sign indicates the time when Europeans began to arrive, right here.
A short distance from this sign, is a signpost indicating how far away these places are, from whence the immigrants have come… and ended up. From Iceland to Gimli. From Lviv to Dauphin. From the Philippines to Winnipeg. From Zaporizhia to Blumenort.
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