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Articles

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

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Faculty Profiles

Faculty: In Their Own Words – Kenton Lobe

KL03Kenton Lobe, Instructor in International Development Studies, has taught at CMU since 2005.

What do you love about your work here?

I love working with students, but in addition to that, I love my colleagues. I have a little neighbourhood at the end of the hall where my office is with two English professors and a colleague in International Development Studies. Paul Dyck is one of the colleagues, and he says he likes to think of this gathering of faculty as a fellowship. That always makes me smile, and that’s borne out of really rich conversations that we have across disciplines here. The size and scale of faculty makes that possible.

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

Participatory Local Development is a second year IDS class. For their major project, students are instructed to create something that roots itself in, and engages the participation of, the CMU community. In the past, that’s resulted in Wittenberg Radio as well as the CMU farm and community garden.

What are you reading for enjoyment?

I just finished reading Silence by Shūsaku Endō, which was recently adapted into a movie by Martin Scorsese. It’s a story of 17th century Jesuit missionaries to Japan and martyrdom. That one had an effect on me. I just started Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay, a Canadian writer. He writes historical fiction that borders on fantasy.

Where or how do students give you hope?

The most significant hope I get from students is watching the work of the CMU Farm. Two students came to me seven years ago and asked why we don’t have agriculture on our 44 acres here. They put together a proposal, and we worked collaboratively to move that into the CMU context. Ever since then, it’s been the labour of students that has made this farm flourish.

What do you most long for in your work?

I long for the academy to step outside of the classroom walls. We do some of that here at CMU with Outtatown and through our practicum program, but I long for a richer engagement with land-based learning. The CMU Farm is one example, but I’ve had students write papers about the Assiniboine Forest and memory, bridging philosophy and ecology that kind of builds on something right in their own backyard. I often wonder what would happen if we oriented our curriculum and our pedagogy around a 5 km. radius of the university. We could talk about Kapyong and urban reserves, we could talk about rail and transportation of oil, we could talk about wetland restoration on our campus—we could talk about all kinds of things and actually locate these things that otherwise become abstracted.

What saying or motto inspires you?

Whenever I left the house on a Friday night when I was growing up, my dad would always say, “Remember who you are.” Then, when I came to CMBC as a student, Harry Huebner—who was teaching theology at the time—had the same kind of saying. “Remember who you are” is a significant saying that sticks in my mind.

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Articles

Seed-saving at CMU leads to relationships between Mennonites, indigenous peoples

Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) made headlines this fall when it was revealed that workers at the CMU Farm, in collaboration with members of the Métis community, had successfully grown an ancient variety of squash from seeds shared with them by the White Earth Seed Library in Minnesota.

The story that accompanied the “Gete-Okosomin” squash seeds was that they were found in a clay ball at an archaeological excavation near the Wisconsin-Illinois border. It went on to suggest that the dating of the clay ball indicated that the seeds were more than 800 years old.

The story captured the imagination of seed savers and gardeners across the continent. It is a good story—but is it true?

When asked, Kenton Lobe, Instructor in International Development Studies at CMU and one of the CMU Farm’s founders, smiles.

“The truth of the story of these squash seeds is still emerging,” he says.

Kenton Lobe and Caroline Chartrand with squash
Kenton Lobe and Caroline Chartrand with Gete-Okosomin squash grown at the CMU Farm

Further digging into the history of the Gete-Okosomin seeds—which, roughly translated, means “cool old squash”—reveals that they were originally gifted to David Wrone, an emeritus University of Wisconsin historian, by some elder women gardeners from the Miami Nation in Indiana in 1995.

One of these squash had been grown and saved by the Miami people for many generations, perhaps even thousands of years.

The men and women stewarding the seed took care to grow them so that they would not cross-pollinate with other kinds of squash, maintaining the variety and characteristics that Lobe suggests resulted in a tasty and prolific squash.

One of the squash grown this season weighed in at more than 30 pounds.

In a note to the White Earth Seed Library, Wrone—who has spent much of his career studying the history of indigenous peoples around the Great Lakes—relates that he had earlier received squash seeds that had been found deep underground in a cave in Kentucky.

They were well preserved in perfect temperature and humidity and were estimated to be several thousand years old. Wrone reports that he grew them out, but that they were “smallish and not as tasty.”

The seeds from the Miami women were shared with Wrone and eventually with White Earth Seed Library.

Over time and through many tellings, these two squash seed stories crossed and turned into one.

The seeds shared with the CMU Farm were, in fact, those grown by the Miami women.

Pollinating Gete-Okosomin squash at the CMU Farm

During the last three growing seasons, members of the Metanoia Farmers Worker Cooperative, who work the CMU Farm, collaborated with Caroline Chartrand, who describes herself as “the landless Métis seed saver,” to grow the seeds out and maintain the varietal purity of the squash.

Their pioneering hand-pollinating method involves community members in planting and caring for the plants, and in harvesting the seed to share with others.

Megan Klassen-Wiebe, one of the farmers, presented this methodology at the Indigenous Farming Conference at White Earth Indian Reservation in March 2013.

“When we started the CMU Farm, we talked a lot about seeds—the politics of seeds and the role they play in our global agriculture system,” Klassen-Wiebe says. “To have connected with Caroline and be doing seed-saving work is exciting.”

Lobe says that whether or not the original story is ‘true,’ growing the squash has helped forge relationships between Métis and Mennonites, with Anishinaabe peoples in Minnesota and ultimately, with Miami gardeners.

“The truth is, the work of seed saving has opened up space for indigenous-settler dialogue and has been both hopeful and helpful,” he adds, noting that the CMU Farm lies on what in the 1870s was a Métis river lot, and which is still part of Treaty 1 territory.

Chartrand says that seed-saving is important in Métis culture because in one sense, every time a variety of vegetables goes extinct, part of Métis history is sacrificed.

“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this partnership I have with Kenton and the farmers at CMU,” she says. “As a result of our work, we have varieties of seeds that were once rare that are now in seed libraries across Canada and the United States.”

While the new development in the Gete-Okosomin story may not seem as exciting as the story the farmers originally received with the seed, it is still fascinating, and shows the care and commitment the Miami people had for this variety of squash.

The story helps those who grow and eat the squash to appreciate the long agricultural history and seed saving skills of indigenous peoples.

“The story opens up people’s imagination to indigenous seed varieties and the stewarding of agricultural biodiversity, which has been done by indigenous farmers from time immemorial,” Lobe says.

The squash seeds will eventually be available for sharing through the fledgling Red River Regional Seed Library hosted on CMU’s campus.

“We love this squash for the story, its unique size and beauty, as well as for its deliciousness and the food it provides through the winter,” Lobe says. “It plays a part in cultivating agricultural biodiversity on the farm and in restoring relationships with people who were here before the Mennonites arrived in this region.”

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Face2Face: On Campus – Community in Conversation Video

Germinating Seeds: Eating Together at the Table with Kenton Lobe

Featuring CMU’s Kenton Lobe, Instructor of International Development Studies, this is part 2 of the 6-part Face2Face Conversation Series.

Eating is one thing that all people have in common, but what do we eat when we are together? Who grows it? How did it get to our table? What was the impact on the land? Does it nourish? Is there enough? Does it taste good? Does any of this matter? How might these questions be informed by our faith?

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Events News Releases

Farmers, Hunters, and Urban Eaters to Gather for Conversation About Food and Faith

Germinating Conversations: Eating Together at the Table takes place on World Food Day

Eating is one thing that all people have in common, but what do we eat when we are together? Who grows it? How did it get to our table? What was the impact on the land? Does the food nourish us? Is there enough? Does it taste good? How might these questions be informed by our faith?

These questions will be part of a roundtable conversation at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) with food growers and eaters who think hard about these questions.

Titled “Germinating Conversations: Eating Together at the Table,” the conversation takes place on Wednesday, Oct. 16 in CMU’s Great Hall (500 Shaftesbury Blvd.). The event starts at 7:00 PM and all are welcome. Admission is free.

It’s the fifth in the Germinating Conversations series on food, faith, eating, and the land presented by a partnership of CMU, the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Manitoba Peace Program, A Rocha Prairie Canada, and Food Matters Manitoba.

1237099_10151862489501866_1361437829_nThe conversations invite growers and eaters to the table to listen to one another, and are intended to help bridge divides among people of faith.

Kenton Lobe, instructor in International Development Studies at CMU and one of the event’s organizers, says that Germinating Conversations aims to promote an understanding of how land stewardship and food ethics are understood in both urban and rural contexts.

“As farmers markets expand and the interest in ‘eating local’ surges, there remains a tension between those who grow food and those who eat it,” Lobe says. “Germinating Conversations explores what it means for people of faith to eat. How does one’s understanding of food as a gift from God impact daily decisions in the supermarket and in our kitchens?”

Lobe will facilitate the Oct. 16 conversation along with Deanna Zantingh, a student from CMU’s Graduate School of Theology. The panel will include Ron Krahn, a third-generation grain farmer from Rivers, MB; Terry Mierau, an opera singer-turned-chicken farmer from Neubergthal, MB; Tina Hildebrand, a cattle farmer from the Pembina Valley; Aaron Epp, an urban eater who has lost 100 pounds over the past two years through diet and exercise; Melanie Unger, Spiritual Life Facilitator from CMU; and Matthew Dueck, a CMU student, urban farmer, and avid hunter.

“Germinating Conversations: Eating at the Table Together” is the second of seven Face2Face events CMU will host during the 2013-14 school year. The Face2Face series of conversations with CMU faculty designed to engage the community on a wide variety of current events and issues at the intersection of faith and life. For the complete Face2Face schedule, please visit cmu.ca/face2face.

“Germinating Conversations: Eating at the Table Together” falls on World Food Day, an annual event meant to encourage attention to agricultural food production, and strengthen international and national solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty.

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Events General News News Releases

Conversations on Food, Faith, Eating, and the City

December 5, 2012 – On World Food Day 2012, Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) was excited to co-host the second event in the Germinating Conversations series on Food, Faith, Eating, and the City. The series is a partnership between CMU, the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Manitoba Peace Program, and A Rocha Prairie Canada.

The October 16 event presented perspectives from five different urban dwellers, reflecting on their faith and how that impacts their food choices. They all answered the question: As an eater, what do you wish food growers understood about how you buy and eat food?

“We wanted to include diverse perspectives – from people who subscribe to the 100 Mile Diet to people who are fast food regulars,” said Kenton Lobe. “The idea was to bring these people together with food growers and other consumers and to create an environment for listening and learning.”

Deanna Zantingh, a CMU student, was one of the presenters. “As a rural farm girl turned urban eater, I have come to appreciate both sides of this complex conversation. My presentation was based on my ‘Alice in Wonderland’ experience of existing in two very different worlds that don’t always understand each other. Going in, my hope was to function as a bridge builder and lay a foundation for truthful engagement that incorporated all stakeholders – eaters and growers – without backing away from tough issues. I walked away very encouraged.”

Another presenter, DeLayne Toews, works at CMU Farms and Winnipeg Harvest. He shared his journey to incorporate the principles of Micah 6:8 – “…to do justice and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” – in all areas of his life, including how he eats. “I’ve come to see that the food I eat is a way that I can live these passages out,” he explained. “For me, food has become one of those places where I can grasp how faith interacts concretely in my everyday life. I try to beenvironmentally and socially responsible in my choices, buying locally and directly whenever possible, and looking for products that are organic and fair trade. That said, there is so much to learn from nearly every place on the spectrum. God is at work at many places in the food system.”

“It was so encouraging to see the dialogue that came out of this event,” Lobe continued. “After the presentations were over, I watched as one of the Province’s largest conventional farmers and an organic 100-mile eater got into a really friendly conversation. It was wonderful to see.”

The event’s organizing partners are working to make the presentations available online and are considering future events. Visit www.mccmanitoba.ca for details.

A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences, and social sciences, as well as two graduate degree programs. CMU has over 1,600 students, including Menno Simons College and Outtatown students, and is a member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC).

Article written by Lindsay Wright for CMU.

 

 

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Events General News News Releases

CMU Co-hosts Germinating Conversations Series

October 15, 2012  – On October 15, 2012, the second event in the Germinating Conversations series on Food, Faith, Eating and the City will be hosted in Winnipeg by a partnership of Canadian Mennonite University, the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Manitoba Peace Program, and A Rocha Prairie Canada.

The conversations invite growers and eaters to the table to listen to one another, and are intended to help bridge divides among people of faith. The desire is to promote an understanding of how land stewardship and food ethics are understood in both urban and rural contexts. Following the first converstation in Winkler in spring, this event will focus on perspectives of urban eaters and attempt to address challenging food issues such as satisfying food desires, contradictions seen in consumer practices, and how Christian faith impacts the selection and preparation of food.

“As farmers’ markets expand and the interest in “eating local” surges, there remains a tension between those who grow food and those who eat it,” says CMU Instructor Kenton Lobe, one of the event organizers. “Germinating Conversations explores what it means for people of faith to eat. How does one’s understanding of food as a gift from God impact daily decisions in the supermarket and in our kitchens?”

The public is invited to hear what five urban dwellers from different walks of life have to say about their food choices. Free to the public, the event will be held in the CMU Great Hall at 7:00 p.m., 500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg.

A previous Germinating Conversations event, held in Winkler, MB on March 21, explored the perspectives of rural food growers.

For event information, contact Kenton Lobe at kalobe@cmu.ca

 

 

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General News

CMU Breaks New Ground with On-Campus Community Farm

Urban Farm Collective Launches First Season of Two-year Plan

Spring 2011 marks the first season of CMU’s new on-campus Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) Farm, a two-year collaborative urban farm project of the university and the CMU Farmers’ Collective.

“The farm is a place of learning in which emerging farmers can practice the craft of land stewardship while growing healthy, local food for sharers,” says Kenton Lobe, CMU International Development Studies (IDS) instructor and Farmers’ Collective member. “I am ecstatic with the level of commitment from the farmers working on the project.”

This project is the realization of a dream of Lobe and alumni DeLayne Toews and Megan Klassen-Wiebe, who are members of CMU Farmers’ Collective and who, over several recent summers, worked on several small-scale farms in Manitoba and the East Coast and imagined what an urban, campus farm might look like at CMU, bringing the idea to fruition.  Other members of the Collective committed to farming this season are alumni Karin Coleman Neufeld, Kurt Lemky, Corinne Klassen, and MSC practicum student Jeanette Sivilay.

“The farm provides a real place in which to engage the issues of food security, land stewardship, and project development—all areas that I teach,” Lobe says. “Having a place to experiment and imagine what the work looks like provides a rich context for learning by doing that really supports the academic curriculum of the university.”

For this season, the CMU Farmers’ Collective is selling 25 shares at $450 each, providing each sharer with a weekly box of fresh, seasonal vegetables starting mid-June for a projected 12-week timeframe. The farm is also growing a plot of corn to sell at a corn roast to support the work of Mennonite Central Committee, and will host a fall harvest celebration. Next year’s work will involve clarifying linkages with university courses.

“The CMU Farm holds the potential to link the issues of global hunger with local and small-scale agriculture and to help us explore how the food we eat opens us to God’s creation and connects us with others,” says Lobe.

To read the Winnipeg Free Press July 30, 2011 article on the CMU community garden, click here.

Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) is a Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, offering undergraduate degrees in arts and science, and such disciplines as business and organizational administration, communications and media, peace and conflict resolution studies, music and music therapy, theology, and church ministries, as well as graduate degrees in Theological Studies and Christian ministry. CMU is a Member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC). Located in Manitoba, CMU has over 1,700 students at its Shaftesbury Campus in Southwest Winnipeg, at Menno Simons College in downtown Winnipeg, and enrolled through Outtatown.

For more information or to reserve your share, contact:
The CMU Farmers’ Collective, cmufarm@gmail.com

For CMU information, contact:
Nadine Kampen, Communications and Marketing Director
nkampen@cmu.ca
Tel. 204.487.3300, Toll free 877.231.4570
Canadian Mennonite University, 500 Shaftesbury Blvd.
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3P 2N2

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General News

First Disaster Recovery Grad Inspired to Alleviate Suffering

David Barker Completes Disaster Recovery Studies at CMU

DRS Graduate David Barker with CMU President Gerald Gerbrandt and Instructors Lois Nickel (DRS) and Kenton Lobe (IDS)

Three years ago, in the middle of reading Roméo Dallaire’s traumatic first-hand account of the Rwanda genocide, David Barker decided his future would be in disaster response.

“It was the first time I read something about the actual suffering going on in the world,” says Barker, recalling his profound emotional response to Dallaire’s book, Shake Hands with the Devil.

This spring, Barker became the first student to graduate from Canadian Mennonite University’s fledgling Disaster Recovery Studies (DRS) program. Barker received his diploma on April 17 with a major in Peace and Conflict Studies and two minors, one in International Development and the other in Disaster Recovery.

If CMU had offered a major in disaster recovery, he would have taken it, Barker says. When he enrolled, CMU was just getting the 18-credit-hour program off the ground.

CMU developed its Disaster Recovery Studies program through a partnership with Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS), a faith-based agency with more than fifty years of experience responding to disasters in Canada and the U.S.A.
The emphasis of CMU’s program is on the longer-term phases of individual, family, and community rebuilding following disasters. A key part of the program is a series of two terms of fieldwork, eight to ten weeks each, fulfilling CMU’s practicum requirement.

“The first term is spent serving with MDS. The second may be either with MDS or with another agency that does disaster recovery work in North America or internationally,” says DRS Instructor Lois Nickel, Program and Region Director with MDS. “Through these service terms, students like David Barker receive hands-on and leadership experience in the rebuilding of disaster-affected, often vulnerable communities. DRS helps students understand the nature of disasters, their aftermath, and the best ways to help people and communities recover physically, psychologically, socially and spiritually.”

Ever since reading Dallaire’s book, Barker has felt called to help alleviate suffering in the world caused by disaster and conflict. He feels his classes and hands-on fieldwork over the past three years have helped equip him to begin that work.

In the summer of 2009, Barker completed his first practicum helping rebuild homes destroyed by California wildfires. “It was a very valuable experience,” he says. “We actually got to interact with the people who had been in the disaster and hear their stories – to talk to them about how they grew spiritually and mentally.”

For his second practicum, Barker worked with the Red Cross in Winnipeg helping develop a tool to assess the province’s ability to respond to disasters such as floods, heat waves, tornados, forest fires, or blizzards. In the classroom Barker studied the theory behind disaster response and the phases of recovery.

Barker’s long-term goal is to get a job working for an organization like the Red Cross, World Vision, or the UN. He says he’s willing to live in whatever part of the world he’s needed. “I’d find that interesting and rewarding,” Barker says.

But to get that kind of job, Barker needs more volunteer experience on his resumé. That’s why, the day after graduation, he started volunteering with the Manitoba government’s Emergency Measures Organization coordinating responses to the annual spring flood.

Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) is an accredited Christian university offering undergraduate degrees in the arts, music, music therapy, theology, and church ministries, and master degrees in theological studies and Christian ministry. CMU is a member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC). Located in Manitoba, CMU has over 1,700 students at its Shaftesbury Campus in Southwest Winnipeg, at Menno Simons College in downtown Winnipeg, and enrolled through Outtatown, CMU’s adventure and discipleship program.

For information, contact:
Nadine Kampen, Communications and Marketing Director
nkampen@cmu.ca     Tel. 204.487.3300   Toll free 877.231.4570
Canadian Mennonite University    500 Shaftesbury Blvd.   Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3P 2N2

Categories
Faculty inConversation Video

Kenton Lobe – International Development Studies Program

Kenton Lobe – International Development Studies Program at CMU ‘A Shrimp Buffet’