Articles Student Profiles

CMU student elected to city council

‘I’ve always wanted to do what I can to make the community stronger,’ Gillingham says

Students put their studies on hold for a variety of reasons, but Scott Gillingham’s reason is unique: he was elected to Winnipeg’s city council.

Gillingham, a student in Canadian Mennonite University’s (CMU) Graduate School of Theology and Ministry (GSTM), was declared the winner in the St. James-Brooklands ward when polls closed in Winnipeg’s civic election on Wednesday, October 22. 

For Gillingham, who was studying at CMU part-time while working as the lead pastor at Grace Community Church, a Pentecostal congregation in Headingley, MB, running for city council was a logical progression after years of community involvement.

"We have been blessed with a democracy. We should steward that democracy, we should serve God and serve others, and if we have the opportunity to participate in our political realm – whether it’s through voting, volunteering in a campaign, being part of a party, or running politically..."
“We have been blessed with a democracy. We should steward that democracy, we should serve God and serve others…”

“It has always been very important to me to be involved outside of my pastoral role in community organization,” the 46-year-old says. “I’ve always wanted to do what I can to make the community stronger, to make where I live better.”

Gillingham helped start a Winnipeg Harvest food bank that serves more than 60 families every two weeks, he sits on the Winnipeg Airports Advisory Committee for the Environment, and he has been an active part of the Portage Trail Soccer Club.

He is also the co-chair of the capital campaign for the St. James Assiniboia 55+ Centre, which is relocating its activities to the main floor of the St. James Civic Centre.

Gillingham ran for the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba in St. James in 2011.

While he lost that election, he says it was a good experience for his wife, Marla, and their two children: Hannah, who is currently a student in CMU’s Outtatown Discipleship School, and Andrew, who is a Grade 11 student at Westwood Collegiate. The 2011 campaign gave the family an idea of what to expect this past fall.

“The highs during the (recent) campaign weren’t so high and the lows weren’t so low this second time around,” Gillingham says. “We were able to anticipate a little more what was coming up and what the campaign would look like.”

Gillingham grew up near Carmen, MB. His father was a farmer before starting a career later in life with Manitoba Hydro, and his mother was a nurse. The family was always heavily involved in its church.

Gillingham felt a call to ministry in his early 20s and completed a diploma in pastoral theology at Horizon College and Seminary in Saskatoon, SK in the early ‘90s. He has worked in ministry until this past August, when he left Grace Community Church to focus on his campaign.

Gillingham’s interest in politics dates back even earlier than his interest in being a pastor. He recalls two formative experiences.

The first was when he was 11 or 12 years old and his family made its annual trip to Lower Fort Garry. Ed Schreyer, who was governor general at the time, was standing at the gates and greeting people.

Gillingham recalls being fascinated with the role and importance of the governor general.

Another formative experience was a conversation he had while eating lunch with his aunt in the Legislative Building, where she worked. His aunt told him, “You could do this. You could be elected and be a public servant.”

“I’ve never forgotten those two incidents,” Gillingham says. “They’ve always stuck with me for some reason.”

He believes it is every Christian’s responsibility to be involved in the political process.

“We have been blessed with a democracy,” Gillingham says. “We should steward that democracy, we should serve God and serve others, and if we have the opportunity to participate in our political realm – whether it’s through voting, volunteering in a campaign, being part of a party, or running politically as I have done – then I think it’s incumbent upon us to be good stewards of the privileges that we have.”

Gillingham is looking forward to serving on council, and to returning to CMU at some point.

“Every time you take a course, especially at the graduate level, you should go into it expecting to be stretched and pulled a little bit, and that has certainly been the case,” Gillingham says, adding that he has been challenged and invigorated by his professors and fellow students at CMU.

“My goal is certainly to continue (my studies) when I have the opportunity and time.”

Articles Student Profiles

Sincerely’s Story

Many local students at CMU, especially those who come from Winnipeg, wonder why anybody would choose to study in a different country far from home, especially knowing it could mean not seeing your family for 3 or 4 years.

Sincerely would like to be a Financial Manager when she graduates from CMU
Sincerely would like to be a Financial Manager when she graduates from CMU

For Sincerely Sibanda of Gwanda, Zimbabwe—a first-year student in CMU’s Redekop School of Business, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration—there are two answers to that question. Partly, she says, it was about career training, but partly it was about adventure—the chance to learn, grow, and experience a country completely different from her own.

“I left home because I thought it would be good to learn how to be independent, responsible and principled without my parents. I wanted to come to Canada because I thought it would be interesting to meet people from different places and get to know different cultures and different languages. I also wanted to come so that I would have opportunities to do volunteering in different places and to work, regardless of being an undergraduate. In my country one works when they have graduated, and there are just a few voluntary opportunities.”

But “why Canada” and “why CMU” are, to some degree, two different questions. Sincerely’s older sister Nonsie Sibanda is also a Business student here at CMU, and Sincerely says that having her sister here did have some influence on her decision, but she stresses that there was a lot more to it as well:

“I applied to CMU because I wanted to have good learning environment. I wanted to learn more about the business world through the Redekop School of Business, and I wanted an opportunity to work with certain businesses through the Bachelor in Business Administration Co-op program so as to gain experience in my career. Learning more about God was another part of what made me apply for a place at CMU.”

But what about all the hassle of communicating? For most high-school graduates, applying to university is frightening enough when your school is near by! Sincerely says communicating long-distance with CMU during her application process was never a problem.

Sincerely (left) and her sister Nonsie (right)
Sincerely (left) and her sister Nonsie (right)

I sent my application in November 2013 and by the 1st of January 2014 I received my acceptance letter. I spoke to quite a number of great people from the Administration department like Sherry Funk, Mitch Krohn, Lisa Kelly, and Lois Nickel and they were very welcoming and always available to help.”

Now, at the end of her first semester, Sincerely has made great friends, and loves her program: “First and foremost I enjoyed the different fun activities that we had during orientation. They were helpful to me because I was able to build good relations with other students early. The best part of this year, for me, has been the classes that l am taking this semester. All my professors and other students are willing to help whenever l don’t understand a concept. There are groups of students that are available during the week to help in different classes and I have learnt a lot from them too. Also, I always have a wonderful time at Chapel and Wednesday night worship.”

Articles General News Student Profiles Uncategorized

CMU Announces Recipient of $10,000 Redekop School of Business Scholarship

Canadian Mennonite University is pleased to announce that Artem Coste has been awarded a 4-year, $10,000 Redekop School of Business Scholarship.

This award is given to a student with high academic standing who meets Redekop School of Business (RSB) program requirements.

Coste (center) at the 2014 MFBC Business Council Awards Gala with MFBC President Jon Reyes (left)
and CMU’s VP, Academic Gordon Zerbe.
Photo by AJ Batac.

RSB develops the potential of future business leaders to bring together sound business practice with commitments of faith, generosity, and service. RSB’s goal is to prepare students to become engaged in business and not-for-profit organizations, with a worldview and character shaped within a Christian university community.

Coste is pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration, with a major in Accounting. He attributes his interest in studying business to his family, which operates a business and owns farmland in the Philippines.

In his first year of studies, Coste says he was interested in studying at CMU because of the small class sizes, which allow for “an easier way to communicate with professors.” He also appreciates being part of a community with people who share the same faith as he does. Coste is a member of the CMU Blazers basketball team.

Coste received recognition of his award at the Manitoba Filipino Business Council Awards Gala, which took place in mid-October.

Articles Student Profiles

Student Profile – Nonsikelelo “Nonsi” Sibanda

Nonsikelelo “Nonsi” Sibanda, the new president of the Redekop School of Business Students Association (RSBSA), is passionate about the ways Christian values and business practice can intersect.

“Business and Christian values go together,” she says. “Christian ethics are so valuable when running a business.”

The Redekop School of Business is developing the potential of future business leaders to bring together sound business practice with commitments of faith, generosity, and service. Sibanda is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in Accounting.

Nonsi Sibanda, 2014/15's president of the Redekop School of Business Students Association (RSBSA): “I love being at RSB.”
Nonsi Sibanda, 2014/15’s president of the Redekop School of Business Students Association (RSBSA): “I love being at RSB.”

Sibanda previously served as the vice-president of finance for the RSBSA. When friends nominated her for the role of president, she felt it would be a good experience.

“I’m a business student and some day I might have to lead, so why not start now?” she says.

The role of the RSBSA is to provide opportunities for students to gain knowledge and experience outside of the classroom, says Sibanda. Events feature guest speakers from the business community and workshops to develop skills needed for pursuing a career in business.

Sibanda says the events allow students “to ask somebody from the business world ‘how do I do this?’ or ‘what do I do if I’m interested in this?’”

Initially, Sibanda thought she’d like to work as a Chartered Accountant after graduating. She says that while that would be a challenging career, she’d like to be a social entrepreneur and create her own business.

“Accounting is one essential part of a business,” she says. “If I have my own business, it’ll be very helpful one day.”

Sibanda is grateful for the “many benefits and opportunities” RSB affords. She was a participant in the 2014 RSB study tour to Europe, which she describes as a great trip.

“As a person who’s doing accounting and interested in numbers, how other countries do economic and financial stuff was interesting for me.”

Sibanda says she’s been good at working with numbers since high school, where she took advanced classes in accounting and business.

She came to Canada from Zimbabwe in 2011 to study at CMU. Her advice to new students is to not be afraid to ask questions.

“Canadians are a nice people, so if you can, be free to ask people anything that you want to know,” she says. “Getting involved is good and networking helps—that’s what I learned at RSB.”

Sibanda enjoys her studies at RSB and appreciates the small class sizes, the approachability of professors, and the supportive community at CMU.

Put simply, she says, “I love being at RSB.”

Articles Student Profiles

Finding Peace in Unexpected Places

Studies at CMU inspire Congolese pastors to work toward reconciliation

If they weren’t studying together at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg, Theo Muthumwa and Shadrack Mutabazi would be adversaries.

The local pastors are from the Democratic Republic of Congo. They survived ethnic violence and traumatic civil war in their homeland, years of exile elsewhere in the region, and arriving in Canada as immigrants. Both study Peace and Conflict Transformation Studies (PACTS) at CMU.

While they have much in common, Muthumwa is part of the Bantu majority from the eastern Congo, while Mutabazi is from the Banyamulenge minority. The differing peoples have a history of mistrust and war against one another.

Today, the two are working toward peace and reconciliation between their peoples.

Theo Muthumwa (left) and Shadrack Mutabazi (right)
Theo Muthumwa (left) and Shadrack Mutabazi (right)

Their paths first crossed during an introductory PACTS course at CMU.  Through periodic classroom discussions, their ethnic identities were revealed to each other, and with every in-class encounter they shared more stories, becoming close friends in the process.

“We are now telling (our) stories,” Muthumwa says. “If we didn’t talk, we would finish at CMU and I would think (Mutabazi) is my enemy.”

“We believe that leaders are servants of God who can be ambassadors of reconciliation to bring people together … and yet some of our colleagues are preaching the gospel of division,” Mutabazi adds.

Muthumwa says the two have a mission to promote peace and reconciliation because the Bible instructs them to do so in Matthew 9.

“It’s also the mission of CMU,” he says. “It has shaped us.”

Both came to CMU to study Theology, but they found PACTS inspiring.

Ultimately, it’s equipping them to work toward peace and reconciliation between their peoples.

“Banyamulenge in eastern Congo have a reputation of being people who bring trouble,” says Muthumwa, who is a Bantu. He has faced persecution, attempted murder, and ultimately exile for denouncing Congolese marginalization of the Banyamulenge, and for vocally renouncing his own people’s violence and hatred toward them.

As a Banyamulenge, Mutabazi has lost loved ones to horrific violence. After fleeing war-torn East Congo, he lived in exile in Rwanda for 10 years and in Uganda for five.

“I lost both my parents in the war,” he  says. “We have wounds in our hearts because of the war.”

After arriving in Canada as immigrants in the late 2000s, both felt unable to speak about their past and who they are, even as they read about events in the Congo and saw images of their homeland.

“So many Canadians don’t know our struggle,” Muthumwa says.

As ministers, both have planted churches while in the Congo, while in exile, and now in Canada as well.

In Winnipeg, Mutabazi started Shalom Christian Outreach and Muthumwa founded Philadelphia Miracle, both congregations serving Africans,  immigrants, and Canadian citizens.

They believe that telling their story is crucial to finding unity and forgiveness.

That doesn’t make it easy, though. Mutabazi recalls the time he stopped attending classes for a week after hearing a lecturer’s stories of ethnic genocide, which triggered his own memories of violence and left him in shock.

“These are deep, deep wounds,” Mutabazi says, emphasizing that facing the future requires truly understanding the past.

Theo and Shadrack“CMU is helping us to speak of where we have come from, where we are now – digging for knowledge and learning – and planning now for our future to go and meet survivors and help bring them together for reconciliation.”

Bringing unity to their people is a difficult process, but Mutabazi and Muthumwa have watched young people create space through music.

Mutabazi’s children joined other Congolese congregations to form a band that now regularly plays at Congolese church services and events across the city, bringing together communities that otherwise have little contact.

“(In Congo), people are using the youth for fighting. Let us use our youth and our leaders to have a dialogue,” Mutabazi says.

After seeing the potential significance of their work for the greater African community, Mutabazi and Muthumwa started Reconciliation Initiatives and Healing for African People.

“Our goal is not to end here, it is to also go back home. We have so many spiritual leaders not aware of peace,” Muthumwa says. “The studies we got from CMU are a bridge. We want to start first with those Congolese here, to create a sense of dialogue, and to create also dialogue in Africa.”

They also look with hope to the greater Winnipeg community.

“Most people here, we’ve found, are listeners – they want to listen to our stories, but we want them to go to the next step,” Muthumwa explains.

“Your grandparents came to Canada and they struggled. We are also facing these kinds of struggles – being in a new place, no family, no one to show you what to do. It’s not easy for us. We need people to welcome us.”

Photos and story by Matthew Veith (CMU ’13)

Student Profiles

CMU student recognized with Terry Fox Humanitarian Award

NickCzehrynEditedMost children haven’t even heard the word hemophilia, let alone know what it means. But at a young age, Nick Czehryn became familiar with the hereditary genetic disorder—which impairs the body’s ability to control blood clotting—because his father has it.

As a result, Czehryn and his family have been long-time volunteers with the Hemophilia Society’s Manitoba chapter. He can recall being nine or 10 years old, helping the society set up charity races.

His work with the Hemophilia Society is one of the reasons Czehryn was recognized earlier this year with a Terry Fox Humanitarian Award, which aims to encourage Canadian youth who strive to emulate Terry Fox’s courage and determination by providing their communities and those in need with humanitarian service.

Czehryn’s volunteer work doesn’t end with the Hemophilia Society. He is involved with the worship band at his church, Windsor Park United, where he is also a Sunday School teacher. He has also given his time volunteering for SOAR Heartland, a drop in centre for children, and as a camp counselor and lifeguard at Luther Village.

As a student at Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute (MBCI), Czehryn participated in mission trips to Winnipeg’s inner city areas, was a member of Youth in Philanthropy, and was the co-president of the student council. Athletically, Czehryn is an avid soccer player, badminton player, and swimmer.

“I’m really thankful that I ended up getting the Terry Fox award,” says Czehryn, who is currently in his second year of a Psychology degree at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU).

“It’s been a great opportunity, and it’s also made it possible for me to do things like play soccer and get involved in other things because it takes a lot of the financial pressure off. It makes more room for doing more volunteer stuff and athletics, and getting involved in that kind of way.”

After graduating from MBCI in 2012, Czehryn was accepted to a different university, but ultimately chose to come to CMU because it would allow him to play soccer, a sport he’s played since he was five years old.

“It’s been a ton of fun playing on the team. It’s been the best soccer team experience I’ve had in my life.”

Czehryn also enjoys CMU’s community life and small class sizes.

“I really enjoy being in a class where there isn’t 200 people and you’re not a number to the prof—especially in the first and second year courses, it’s been nice to have relationships with the profs, be able to ask questions, and get useful feedback from the get-go,” he says.

“I also like the community aspect of CMU. It’s not come to school, go to class, go home—you can come, you can hang out, you know the people here, and it’s a lot of fun.”

In addition to his school and athletic commitments, Czehryn still makes time to volunteer with the Hemophilia Society. After he graduates from CMU, he plans to go to medical school and become a doctor—a plan that was inspired at least in part by his father’s hemophilia.

When he was young, Czehryn always asked his parents about his father’s blood disorder, wondering things like, “Why is dad different? Why can’t he do certain things?”

That inquisitive nature has stayed with him.

“Through all that learning I did when I was younger, it got me really interested in how the body works … why things don’t work, that kind of stuff,” Czehryn says. “And from there, it just kept building as I’ve grown up.”

“Hopefully after med school I’ll be able to make a difference in some way.”

Articles Student Profiles

Student Profiles – Rafael Amaya (2013)

RSB_RafaelAmayaApril 24, 2013 – After attending a different university, Rafael Amaya chose to study at CMU’s Redekop School of Business (RSB) to complete his education.

“When I looked into RSB, I found a school that gives professionals a combination of technical skills and human values that will not only allow them to meet the demands of the modern business world, but will also help prepare them to make a positive difference in our communities,” Amaya says.

“I chose the RSB because it is allowing me to obtain a business education with Christian values.”

Amaya enjoys the small class sizes at CMU because they allow him to form close relationships with both his classmates and professors.

“It’s a higher-quality learning experience,” he says.

He has also been involved in the executive team of the RSB Students’ Association, and was able to travel to Niagara Falls, Ont. last year for the annual Business as a Calling conference put on by Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA).

There, he participated in MEDA’s Student Case Competition – a competition in which seven student teams were challenged to develop a business plan for Winterfield Greenbau Construction Co. from Waterloo, Ont. Each team gave a presentation to the judging panel explaining their solution to at least one of the challenges given.

“So far, my experience at RSB has been great,” says Amaya, who plans to graduate in late 2014 or early 2015 with a Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in accounting.

“After I graduate, I hope to pursue a Chartered Professional Accountant designation and work in the energy industry.”

Articles Student Profiles

Student Profiles – Abram Thiessen (2012)

Abram Thiessen_webDecember 13, 2012 – In 2011, Abram Thiessen faced a sudden life threatening health condition while studying at CMU. Away from his hometown of Abbotsford, British Columbia, he learned quickly that he was far from alone in Manitoba.

“During my health crisis, the CMU community was always with me, through both prayers and their physical presence,” says Thiessen. “The instant I was taken out of my medically induced coma, I saw two gigantic ‘get well soon’ cards in my room that had been signed by CMU students – including many I had never talked to before. Over the next few weeks, I had so many visitors.”

“This support meant everything to me. It would have been so much more difficult to endure weeks at a time in the hospital without my friends at CMU. It was the community of CMU that kept my spirits up and kept me going,” says Thiessen.

“Today, I am very stable thanks to the medication I am using. I’m excited to come back to CMU this year to be a part of the community once again.”


Articles Student Profiles

Student Profiles – Raven Nickel (2012)

Raven Nickel_webDecember 13, 2012 – For Raven Nickel of Altona, MB, who is working towards an education degree and majoring in French, coming to CMU after high school was the ideal choice to begin post-secondary studies. Receiving a scholarship helped make it all possible.

Upon graduation from Mennonite Collegiate Institute in Gretna two years ago, Raven received a CMU Leadership Scholarship valued at $10,000 over four years.  The award recognizes both academic excellence and leadership, shown in her roles as camp counsellor, lifeguard, and aide to a younger student.

“That money was a huge help,” says  Nickel, who lives in residence at CMU. “The award gave me confidence in myself and sparked my interest in taking initiative to become a Residence Assistant – and helping other students also lets me give back to CMU.”

“I love living on campus, and having my own place to go between classes. I like the activities outside of class time, I enjoy the community of people here, and I like the dynamics between professors and students.”

In particular, Nickel appreciates the focus on theology and faith as part of her daily life.  “I’m looking forward to taking more BTS courses this year,” says Nickel, who hopes to teach, to travel, and to do mission work. “It’s really cool that faith can be worked into everyday things.”

Articles Student Profiles

Student Profiles – Natalie Vander Zaag (2012)

Natalie Vander Zaag_webDecember 13, 2012 – Natalie Vander Zaag (OT’11) started at Canadian Mennonite University as a participant in CMU’s Outtatown French Africa program and stayed to study at CMU with a major in social sciences.

Vander Zaag had always been interested in psychology, but it was her work at an Aboriginal drop-in centre in Winnipeg’s North End that helped turn that interest into a true passion. “I am so interested in how the human brain works and the methods people use to heal. My work at the drop-in centre has made me even more passionate about healing and therapy,” says Vander Zaag.

“I love psychology because you can apply everything you learn to everyday experiences,” she says.

“The quality of teaching here goes beyond what you’d get at other schools because the faculty here are able to merge academics with an ability and a willingness to nurture the spiritual aspects of their students’ lives,” says Vander Zaag. “This is a genuine, caring place where people are supported and encouraged to grow in all areas of their lives. I have really enjoyed my CMU experience.”