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With Gratitude 2017 | Michaela Olson (video)

This video features Michaela Olson (CMU ’17) at With Gratitude, April 22, 2017.

Michaela Olson
Bachelor of Music Therapy

Song: Folsom Prison Blues

With Gratitude is a CMU graduation weekend event at which class members share their experiences through spoken word or musical performance. The event brings together family members, graduates, students, faculty, and staff, and affords graduates a valuable opportunity to showcase what their studies have meant to them.

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With Gratitude 2017 | Ben Shantz (video)

This video features Ben Shantz (CMU ’17) at With Gratitude, April 22, 2017.

Ben Shantz
Bachelor of Arts, 4 year
Major: Business and Organizational Administration

With Gratitude is a CMU graduation weekend event at which class members share their experiences through spoken word or musical performance. The event brings together family members, graduates, students, faculty, and staff, and affords graduates a valuable opportunity to showcase what their studies have meant to them.

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With Gratitude 2017 | Rebecca Krahn (video)

This video features Rebecca Krahn (CMU ’17) at With Gratitude, April 22, 2017.

Rebecca Krahn
Bachelor of Arts, 3 year
Major: Psychology

With Gratitude is a CMU graduation weekend event at which class members share their experiences through spoken word or musical performance. The event brings together family members, graduates, students, faculty, and staff, and affords graduates a valuable opportunity to showcase what their studies have meant to them.

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With Gratitude 2017 | Alyssa Hildebrand (video)

This video features Alyssa Hildebrand (CMU ’17) with Anneli Loepp-Thiessen, piano at With Gratitude, April 22, 2017.

Alyssa Hildebrand
Bachelor of Music
Concentration: Performance-Voice

Song: Laurie’s Song from the opera The Tender Land

With Gratitude is a CMU graduation weekend event at which class members share their experiences through spoken word or musical performance. The event brings together family members, graduates, students, faculty, and staff, and affords graduates a valuable opportunity to showcase what their studies have meant to them.

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Events News Releases

Canadian Mennonite University celebrates Class of 2017

Canadian Mennonite University recognized the accomplishments of the Class of 2017 during graduation weekend, held April 21 to April 23, a time filled with reflection, laughter, and tears.

The weekend culminated with CMU President Dr. Cheryl Pauls conferring 70 undergraduate degrees, seven graduate degrees, one undergraduate certificate, and three graduate certificates, at the graduation service held at Immanuel Pentecostal Church on Sunday, April 23.

“All of us, your teachers, are grateful to you graduands for opening our eyes to new ways of seeing, hearing, and reflecting,” Pauls said. “May the wonder of God’s love ever inspire the vocation of your hearts, hands, and minds as you move from this place.”

Pauls conferred two degrees for the first time ever: Anika Reynar became the first student to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts (Four-Year) in Interdisciplinary Studies; and Michael Duerksen and Wesley Ngwenya became the first students to graduate from CMU’s collaborative Master of Business Administration program.

Pauls awarded President’s Medals to Reynar and Nicholas Czehryn (BA, Four-Year, Psychology) in recognition of their qualities of scholarship, leadership, and service.

Anika Reynar delivers her valedictory address

Earlier in the service, Reynar delivered the valedictory address, based on the graduation verse from Proverbs 24:13-14: “My child, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, you will find a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

Reynar said that at CMU, she and her peers were encouraged to learn, think, question, and love, especially in those times when they felt lost, overwhelmed, and disoriented.

“Recognize that who you are and who you have become during your time at CMU is a gift from your friends, mentors, family members, and church community that surround you,” Reynar told her fellow graduates.

“Wherever you find yourself next, carry this place and these people with you,” she added. “When you are lost and overwhelmed, remember to take risks and to start learning, questioning, and loving. Ask for help connected to the community and place where you are; then you will continue to find the sweetness of friendship and to be surprised by the gift of wisdom.”

After Reynar spoke, Adrian Jacobs delivered the graduation address, titled, “Who Are You in a Kairos Moment?”

Adrian Jacobs, Keeper of the Circle at Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre, urged students to pursue peace and justice with integrity

Jacobs, who is Keeper of the Circle at Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre, an Aboriginal Theological and Ministry Training Program of the United Church of Canada in Beausejour, MB, pointed out that in 2017, Protestants are celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, and Canadians are celebrating the 150th anniversary of confederation.

These are potentially kairos moments, Jacobs said: moments in which God is speaking in some way.

“Keeping up to date in your understanding of the times in which you live, and knowing for sure what God wants you to do, is key to fulfilling Creator’s purpose in your life,” Jacobs said, later challenging the graduates to live with integrity, working for peace and justice. 

“Graduates of Canadian Mennonite University, who are you in this kairos moment of 2017?” Jacobs asked at the end of his address.

At With Gratitude, a CMU graduation weekend event at which graduates share their experiences through spoken word or musical performance, Hannah Stoesz (BA, Four-Year, Social Science – Counselling Studies) reflected on how CMU is an encouraging place where students can safely share their dreams, doubts, and goals.

CMU's class of 2017
CMU’s class of 2017

“The things I have learned, and the people I have encountered at CMU, have helped me grow… and have given me a solid base from which I’m already beginning to interact with and find my place outside of CMU,” Stoesz said. “I will always be grateful for me time here.”

Speaking at the same event, Meara Sparling (BMus, Concentration: Music Education—Early/Middle Years) reflected on how much she has grown over the past four years.

“I was pushed out of my comfort zone over and over, and presented with opportunities I don’t believe I could find anywhere else,” she said.

At CMU, Sparling was encouraged to take on leadership roles in her church. The musical ideas and techniques she learned at CMU helped her as she led choirs and worship.

“I will be eternally grateful for the four years I’ve gotten to spend here,” Sparking said. “I know I will miss walking these halls.”

The Graduation Service and With Gratitude presentation were part of a number of events that occurred during graduation weekend, including a gala dinner on Friday, April 21, Spring Concert on Saturday, April 22, and a Baccalaureate Service the morning of April 23.

Commencement Ceremony (video)
Photo album – 2017 Graduation Events (unedited)

 

About CMU
A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences, and social sciences, as well as graduate degrees in theology, ministry, peacebuilding and collaborative development, and an MBA. CMU has over 800 full-time equivalent students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury and Menno Simons College campuses and in its Outtatown certificate program.

For information about CMU visit www.cmu.ca.

For additional information, please contact:
Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing
kkilbrei@cmu.ca; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2

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Video

CMU 2017 Graduation Ceremony | April 23, 2017 (video)

CMU’s 2017 graduation service culminated with President Dr. Cheryl Pauls conferring 70 undergraduate degrees, seven graduate degrees, one undergraduate certificate, and three graduate certificates.

Valedictory address by Anika Reynar.

Graduation address by Mr. Adrian Jacobs, Keeper of the Circle, Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre.

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2017 CMU PAX Award Presentation to Canadian Peacemaker Teams (video)

On April 5, 2017 Canadian Mennonite University honoured Canadian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) with the CMU PAX Award for its efforts to realize a world of communities that together embrace the diversity of the human family and live justly and peaceably with all creation. CPT has committed itself to work and relationships that honour and reflect the presence of faith and spirituality; strengthen grassroots initiatives; transform structures of domination and oppression; and embody creative non-violence and liberating love.

The CPT experience has demonstrated that small teams of four to six people trained in the skills of documentation, observation, nonviolent intervention, and various ministries of presence can make a striking difference in explosive situations.

News release

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Our Faculty Speak… (video)

Discover what makes CMU special in the words of our faculty.

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Faculty: In Their Own Words – Dr. Dan Epp-Tiessen

14 - Dan Epp-Tiessen (March 2017)Dr. Dan Epp-Tiessen, Associate Professor of Bible, has taught at CMU since 1998.

What are you teaching right now that you’re most excited about?

Creation, Environment, and the Bible. Given the ecological challenges this planet faces, we as Christians have a unique opportunity to address those issues because our fundamental conviction is that God has created this amazing cosmos. If God has created this unbelievably beautiful, complex world, we of all people ought to love and care for it.

What are you researching and writing?

I’ve been asked to write a Believers Church Bible Commentary on the book of Micah. I’ve always loved the prophets. They tell it like it is in terms of naming the sins and shortcomings of God’s people, and yet they’re also profoundly hopeful. The book of Micah brings together the importance of worship, the importance of a close relationship with God, and how the two should lead to a life of faithfulness and justice, and of caring for people in the community—especially the weaker and more vulnerable members of the community.

What you are reading for enjoyment?

In the last few years I’ve been trying to read more about Indigenous-settler relations in this country. That’s not always enjoyable, but I’ve found it deeply, deeply meaningful. I think if we’re going to live well in this country, it’s one of the primary agenda items that we as a settler society need to face going forward.

Where or how do students give you hope?

For me the hope and encouragement from students come from when I see them get excited about the stuff we’re talking about in class; when I see them get excited about particular biblical stories or biblical books or biblical passages and themes. They want their lives to be shaped by this stuff. They want to be people transformed by God’s grace, transformed by the life of Jesus, and they want all of that to make a difference in their lives.

What do you most long for in your work?

That students come to love Jesus, that they become excited about—and committed to—the biblical story, and that somehow their lives are transformed and deepened because of the stuff we’ve talked about, read, and studied in class. That’s what I long for: to see our students grow in their relationship with God, grow in their commitment to the Christian faith, and become more mature, healthy human beings.

What saying or motto inspires you?

In the last few years I’ve been drawn to a famous prayer by Augustine: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in you.” For me, that’s a source of huge comfort and hope. It’s also what I hope for my students: that they will come to experience themselves as beloved children of God and be deeply, deeply rooted in God.

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Working with Christian Peacemaker Teams a profound experience for alumni

Lisa Martens (CMBC ‘00) recalls what it was like being in Iraq when U.S. forces invaded the country in 2003. She remembers speaking with a man whose house was cracked because his neighbour’s home had been bombed.

‘It changed my thinking forever,’ Lisa Martens (CMBC ‘00) says of her work with CPT, which took her to places like Iraq, Mexico, and Colombia.
‘It changed my thinking forever,’ Lisa Martens (CMBC ‘00) says of her work with CPT, which took her to places like Iraq, Mexico, and Colombia.

“He was a Muslim I think, and his wife was Christian,” Martens recalls. “He just talked about how he believed that the people from various religions should be able to live in peace together, and how his family was evidence of that kind of cooperation.”

Martens is one of the more than 30 alumni, faculty, and staff from Canadian Mennonite University and its predecessor colleges who have worked for CPT. That includes Dr. Harry Huebner, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Theology, who helped found the organization.

Started in the late ‘80s, CPT seeks to build partnerships to transform violence and oppression around the world.

The organization uses small teams of four to six people trained in documentation, observation, nonviolent intervention, and various ministries of presence to make a difference in explosive situations.

Kenton Lobe (CMBC ‘95), who served with CPT in Haiti in 1994 and in Grassy Narrows in the early 2000s, praises the forward-thinking people who created the organization.

Kenton Lobe (CMBC ‘95) served with CPT in Haiti in 1994 and in Grassy Narrows in the early 2000s
Kenton Lobe (CMBC ‘95) served with CPT in Haiti in 1994 and in Grassy Narrows in the early 2000s

“CPT has a strong focus on justice,” Lobe says. “They were one of the first organizations that was working at questions of privilege, questions of the implications of globalization, and the connection of that globalization to violence in local communities.

“That was their work, and they were providing an avenue for the church to be present in those conversations.”

Rachelle Friesen (CMU ‘07) says that she has always felt part of the CPT community.

“CPT has always been part of my peace and justice journey,” says Friesen, who today works for the organization in Toronto as its Canada Coordinator.

Friesen’s work involves everything from administrative tasks like data entry and writing grant proposals, to reaching out to CPT’s constituency, to organizing training sessions, to supporting CPT workers, to speaking at rallies.

‘CPT has always been part of my peace and justice journey,’ says Rachelle Friesen (CMU ‘07), pictured here with fellow CPTers at a rally in Toronto.
‘CPT has always been part of my peace and justice journey,’ says Rachelle Friesen (CMU ‘07), pictured here with fellow CPTers at a rally in Toronto.

“It’s a big job, but it’s a fun job,” Friesen says.

“What I really enjoy is the opportunity to network with other organizations and with other peacemakers,” she adds.

People who are struggling around the world are all connected, Friesen says.

Whether it’s Palestinians struggling for freedom and liberation, or Kurdish people struggling for sovereignty in Iraqi Kurdistan, or small-scale farmers in Colombia who are fighting the multinational corporations that are trying to force them off their land, or Indigenous groups in Grassy Narrows and Shoal Lake 40, everyone is struggling to exist.

“I find it really exciting that I get to work with an organization that sees these interconnections and is working in solidarity with people to try to resist these multiple oppressions,” Friesen says. “There’s a great opportunity to build relationships (so that) we can undo the oppression that we have within our world.”

‘CPT has always been part of my peace and justice journey,’ says Rachelle Friesen (CMU ‘07), who works as the organization’s Canada Coordinator.
‘CPT has always been part of my peace and justice journey,’ says Rachelle Friesen (CMU ‘07), who works as the organization’s Canada Coordinator.

Martens agrees. She served with CPT in 1999, and then from 2001-2004. In addition to Iraq, the work brought her to places like Chiapas, Mexico; Colombia; South Dakota; and Grassy Narrows.

CPT not only made a difference in the lives of those Martens worked with, but it also made a difference in Martens’s life.

She recalls working for an organization in Winnipeg a few years ago that supports refugees.

“I felt I could do that (job) a lot differently having travelled and been in war zones (with CPT),” Martens says. “I could empathize differently having had some of those experiences myself.”

Working with CPT had a dramatic impact on Martens’s worldview.

“It changed my thinking forever,” she says.

-With file from Christian Peacemaker Teams