2015 Alumni Award Recipient Stories – Gerry Dyck (video)

Gerry Dyck (MBBC '82)
Gerry Dyck (MBBC ’82)

Since graduating from MBBC, Gerry Dyck (’82) has fused his interest in business with his interest in international development to make a difference. Dyck is the co-founder and president of Kalora Interiors International, a business that specializes in décor solutions for the home furnishings industry. An offshoot of a multi-national non-profit charity called International Development Enterprises, Kalora was established to match the needs of suppliers from the developing world with the needs of customers in the Western world. Dyck is also involved with the Ontario Board of Church Extension, with a focus on church planting in large urban centres in Ontario. He lives in St. Jacobs, ON.

The Distinguished Alumni Awards celebrate alumni who, through their lives, embody CMU’s values and mission of service, leadership, and reconciliation in church and society. The awards are presented to alumni from CMU and its predecessor colleges: Canadian Mennonite Bible College (CMBC) and Mennonite Brethren Bible College (MBBC)/Concord College.


Events News Releases

CMU Community Celebrates at Fall Festival 2015

Reunions, Concerts, Alumni Awards, and Donor Recognition Highlights of Annual Event

Although it’s only been five months since she graduated from Canadian Mennonite University, Amber Neufeld was eager to return to campus for Fall Festival.

Neufeld performed at the festival’s MPK folk concert, shopped at the farmers market, and attended the opening program. She hopes to attend more CMU events in the future because of the impact the university has had on her life.

“Not only did CMU teach me valuable things that are the foundation for my faith and education, it gave me some amazing people that I’m honoured to be friends,” Neufeld said.

More than 500 people gathered at CMU for Fall Festival this past weekend (Sept. 25-26).

President Cheryl Pauls addresses those gather for the Opening Program
CMU President Cheryl Pauls addresses those gathered for the Fall Festival 2015’s opening program

Celebrated at the end of each September, Fall Festival features opportunities for students, alumni, friends, donors, and community members to connect, learn, play, and celebrate with the CMU community.

In addition to the folk music festival and farmers market, the weekend included class reunions, community meals, a Manitoba Cycling Association-sanctioned bicycle race, MCAC basketball games, and a tour of Marpeck Commons, the new building on campus that houses a library, a bookstore/resource centre, learning commons, and a café.

The weekend kicked off on Friday, Sept. 25 with a Face2Face community discussion exploring oil dependency.

After a full day of activity on a warm and windy Saturday (Sept. 26), Fall Festival wrapped up with CMU’s annual opening program, a time of worship to celebrate the start of a new school year.

For the first time ever, the opening program was held in Marpeck Commons, which opened at the end of November 2014.

Delivering a message based on CMU’s chapel theme for 2015-16, Behold the Beauty of the Lord (Psalm 27:4), CMU President Cheryl Pauls spoke of the ways in which beauty and inquiry work together.

Meditating on the popular phrase, “Leave it better than you found it,” Pauls talked about how that mentality has captured people’s imaginations as they work amidst the complex, strained matters of today, such as economic disparity, climate change, food security, human sexuality, and reconciliation with First Nation, Métis, and Inuit peoples.

“I’ve little doubt that the call ‘Better than we found it’ nurtures our commitments to these and many more hurting peoples and places,” Pauls said.

“I’ve also little doubt that the mission entrusted to this university requires action and reflection—action and reflection that’s animated by bending towards beauty. That is, through postures of prayer in the courage and humility of inquiry and awe, ever seeking of God clear, compelling ways forward with matters and relationships that confound and trouble us. And also, perhaps more importantly, by ever releasing and offering to God the very best of our persuasions and of all we think we now grasp.”

The opening program included the presentation of the 2015 Distinguished Alumni Awards, which annually recognize alumni who, through their lives, embody CMU’s values and mission of service, leadership, and reconciliation in church and society.

Pauls presented the awards to Larry Plenert, an Olympian-turned-lawyer who has worked for the past eight years as an adjudicator of claims of serious abuse by former students of Indian Residential Schools; Cheryl Woelk, an educator and peace worker; Gerry Dyck, a businessman who has made significant contributions in the field of international development; and Arno and Lena Fast, a couple who have spent the past 46 years ministering at a church in Winnipeg’s North End.

Winnipeg artists Richard Finney (right) and Ray Dirks (left) with their art piece, which acknowledges those who donated to the construction of Marpeck Commons

Later in the program, Pauls noted that $12 million of the $14.4 million needed to pay for Marpeck Commons has been raised so far.

She unveiled a donor recognition wall, which features an art piece commemorating people who contribute money to the project.

Created by Winnipeg artists Richard Finney and Ray Dirks, the piece is made up of brushed metal and glass.

The glass features an etching of a tree made up of phrases from CMU’s mission statement.

The lower portions of the piece feature a laser cutting of the names of donors who contributed to the project, with room to add the names of future donors.

“It’s a field of names,” Pauls explained. “Each individual is a kernel, a kernel that matters and is vital to the actual, ongoing life of this place. As a collective, this field of names draws out the best of what is made possible through the learning, the conversation, the sharing together in this place.”

Vice President External Terry Schellenberg noted that Fall Festival is an important community builder for CMU.

“Once again, Fall Festival opened CMU to alumni, friends, and the broader community,” Schellenberg said.

“We were moved by a significant Face2Face conversation; inspired by stories of ministry, restorative justice, business, and peacemaking from five alumni award recipients; gratified by the generosity of CMU’s support community as we unveiled a beautiful donor wall in Marpeck Commons; and celebrated and blessed the start of a new academic year.”

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

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

General News News Releases

MSC Honours its First Distinguished Alumnus Award Recipient

Menno Simons College is pleased to award the first Distinguished Alumnus Award to Noelle DePape who graduated with a double major in Conflict Resolution Studies and International Development Studies in 2003. The award honours graduates who exemplify the goals and values of Menno Simons College (MSC) in their life and work.

A commitment to bridge building, developing partnerships, and coalition work has been foundational for DePape, whose career has focused on working with immigrants and refugees.

Noelle DePape with the first Distinguished Alumnus Award to be presented by Menno Simons College
Noelle DePape upon receiving the first Distinguished Alumnus Award to be presented by Menno Simons College

DePape is the Director of Training and Development at the Immigrant and Refugee Committee of Manitoba (IRCOM). The organization “strives to empower newcomer families to integrate into the wider community through affordable transitional housing, programs, and services.”

IRCOM is one organization in a wider network working towards creating safe and inclusive neighbourhoods in Winnipeg’s inner city, says DePape. She manages special projects, which encompasses developing projects to support newcomer families, creating partnerships with other organizations, and securing funding.

“My passion is working in the ‘intersections’,” she says. “In order to address complex social problems with multiple barriers, I believe we need to work collaboratively with multiple stakeholders and look outside the box to find innovative and collective solutions.”

IRCOM’s second major housing project is underway as a result of a strong partnership with Manitoba Housing and Community Development. IRCOM Isabel will provide safe and affordable housing for 50-60 immigrant and refugee families and will also offer services and supports as these families adjust to life in Winnipeg.

The Newcomer Education Coalition (NEC) is another partnership that excites DePape, who currently co-chairs NEC with Reuben Garang. Many refugee children and youth have experienced interrupted schooling due to years of displacement and can face challenges when beginning school in Canada. In addition to language barriers, youth are placed in classes that may not correspond to prior learning though they are age-appropriate, and often do not have access to supports they need to succeed. Many newcomer youth feel marginalized in the school system and may not complete their education.

The NEC is comprised of 25 different stakeholders including representatives from schools, community organizations, ethnocultural groups, and individual newcomers who came to Canada as refugees, all of whom want to explore different education models for newcomers.

“We’re looking at creative models and adaptations that can better support these kids so they’ll have a higher chance of success,” says DePape. “We’ve seen that when they’re getting some extra help early on and have culturally proficient mentors, volunteers, or teacher’s assistants working with them, they’re doing a lot better.”

DePape is also passionate about UMOJA, a newcomer-police advisory group that seeks to build trust between police and newcomers in the community. UMOJA is a Swahili word that translates to “unity.” Newcomers who have come from countries experiencing conflict may feel unsafe around those in uniform, explains DePape. UMOJA works to provides opportunities for law enforcement members to become more culturally proficient by learning about newcomers realities and backgrounds. The advisory group hopes to help newcomers grow to feel they can trust the police and draw on police members as community peacekeepers.

Additionally, DePape works with other community change makers and like-minded groups, to provide opportunities for newcomer, indigenous and settler communities to connect through programs like the Youth Peacebuiding Project, the annual Across Cultures event and Open Roads Transformative writing program with Rossbrook House, and through partnerships with the Ka Ni Kanichihk and the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba.

“If we want to truly create an inclusive society, we must acknowledge the unique challenges and gifts of the different communities in our city, especially our indigenous peoples, and work together for social change.”

DePape was awarded the Rotary World Peace Fellowship to pursue a Master of International Relations–Peace and Conflict Resolution at the University of Queensland, Australia. She describes it as an incredible program that connected her with a global network of peacebuilders.

She highlights the importance of having communities of support that development and conflict resolution practitioners can vision and work within as they work on pursuing social justice. DePape finds motivation and strength from her co-workers and the newcomers with whom she works.

For those interested in working for positive change, DePape’s encouragement is: “Do what you feel comfortable with, then take one more step, and now you’re in the right place for beginning to change the flow of the status quo toward inclusion and justice.”

“I always encourage people to stretch a little more—stretch your mind, stretch your circles and most importantly speak against oppression, even when your voice shakes.”