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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.”

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General News

Scholarship Winner Aims to Make a Difference Through Business

‘Business can be about more than just making a profit,’ says Benjamin Shantz

Business is in Benjamin Shantz’s blood. While his friends spent their summers in high school working shifts at local fast food restaurants, Shantz was running his own lawn care operation, Benjamin’s Lawn Mowing and Services.

The business earned Shantz enough spending money during each summer, and while his friends were obligated to work the hours their supervisors scheduled for them, he enjoyed the flexibility making his own schedule afforded him.

2013-11-07 - Ben Shantz [2]But Shantz says one of the biggest benefits of running his own business was relational.

Today, Shantz is in his first year of studies at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU). He received a full tuition scholarship for his first year of study from CMU’s Redekop School of Business as well as Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA).“Mowing lawns in my neighbourhood allowed me to build relationships and get to know people in the community,” the 19-year-old says. “I always enjoyed that, as opposed to having a job where I didn’t interact with anyone.”

Shantz says he gets his entrepreneurial spirit from his family.

“My grandfather and dad were involved in business, and my dad was big on teaching my brother and I how to manage our money,” he says.

His grandfather, Glen, was an electrician with his own contracting company who also owned a number of rental properties. Meanwhile, Shantz’s father, Rick, owned his own IT consulting firm for a number of years.

Participating in CMU’s Outtatown Discipleship School last year also influenced Shantz to study business, and it gave him a new perspective on what running a business can look like.

While in Guatemala at the beginning of 2013, he and his fellow students worked with a ministry called Solomon’s Porch. The ministry includes a café, and the income generated by the café is used to further the Solomon’s Porch ministry.

“I saw how business can be about more than just making a profit,” Shantz says. “It can also be used to give back to a community – in this case, to finance a missional organization that builds houses for people.”

As a result of his experience abroad, Shantz is working towards a double major in Business and International Development Studies at CMU.

While he’s not sure what sort of business he wants to be involved with after he graduates, he knows it will be the kind of business that reflects the things he has come to value over the past few years.

“It will be a business that’s tied to the community and relationships and helping people,” he says.

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Alumni Profiles Articles

Royal Canoe guitarist talks about how CMU has shaped his life

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Royal Canoe guitarist Bucky Driedger (bottom left) graduated from CMU in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences, with a concentration in Communications.

August 22, 2013 – With its forward-thinking blend of pop, rock, hip hop, dance, soul, and electronic music, as well as its energetic live shows, Royal Canoe has made a name for itself as one of Winnipeg’s most exciting bands.

Two of the band’s singles have reached the Top 5 on CBC Radio 3, they have toured throughout North America and Europe, and they’ve earned praise from venerable publications like The New York Times to blogs like This Music Doesn’t Suck, which described the band’s sound as “a clever blend of aesthetics and genres executed with a confidence and expertise usually reserved for more established groups.”

Bucky Driedger, Royal Canoe’s guitarist, backing vocalist and co-songwriter, sees a clear connection between the work he does in the band and the time he spent on Outtatown in 2002-2003 and then studying at CMU.

“Both were experiences that shaped my worldview and gave me a desire to experience new places and try new things,” says Driedger, who graduated in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences, with a concentration in Communications.

He adds that he studied and lived in residence with many creative people who were interested in making music and visual art.

“Being in a culture where my peers valued thinking outside the box really helped me develop my sense of taste and what I value in art,” he says. “Good art should help people . . . imagine a new way of thinking about the world.”

Studying communications gave Driedger an appreciation for the way media and pop culture interact, and the subtleties involved in phrasing a message so that it has a particular impact on its intended audience.

RC-SmallCover
“Today We’re Believers,” Royal Canoe’s new album, is in stores Tuesday, Sept. 3.

CMU also equipped Driedger with some of the tools he uses to help promote the band. While Royal Canoe has a manager, booking agents, and record label support, each member is actively involved with every aspect of the business side of the music industry, from graphic design, to photo shoots, to booking tours, to writing press releases and updates for the band’s website.

“Gone are the days when you can be a mad genius in your basement, get discovered by a major record label, and have everyone do everything for you,” he says. “You need to have copywriters and booking agents in your band.”

While at CMU, Driedger sang in choir. Growing up in the Mennonite Church, he saw what an important part music plays in Mennonite culture.

“From a young age, I learned to value thoughtful music-making,” he says.

The intricate composition and harmony Driedger and his bandmates witnessed in church has made its way into Royal Canoe’s sound. Some of the group’s songs have a classical music feel, and at any given moment, four of the band’s six members could be singing at the same time, weaving different harmonies together behind the melody.

This fall, Royal Canoe will spend three-and-a-half months touring throughout North America and Europe in support of its second full-length album, Today We’re Believers, which hits stores on Sept. 3. Driedger is excited to see how people respond to the album, which the band worked on for the better part of three years.

“We put a lot of thought into every tone and lyric,” he says. “They’re not just throwaway [songs]. They all represent really important moments in our lives.”

Royal Canoe will celebrate the release of Today We’re Believers with two shows in Winnipeg this week: An all ages show at the Park Theatre tonight (Thursday, Aug. 22), and an 18+ show at Union Sound Hall tomorrow (Friday, Aug. 23). For details, and to hear the band’s music, visit www.royalcanoe.com.

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Alumni Profiles Articles

Alumni Profile – Matt Sawatzky (CMU ’06)

Matt Sawatzky [2] - Corey Aronec
CMU alumnus Matt Sawatzky. Photo by Corey Aronec.
May 2, 2013 – Matt Sawatzky likes photography because photos tell stories in ways that words cannot.

“Learning to do that well—to be able to capture a story visually—is interesting to me,” says Sawatzky, who participated in CMU’s Outtatown Discipleship School 2001-2002 and graduated from CMU with a three-year B.A. in International Development Studies (IDS) in 2006.

Sawatzky’s latest project combines his love for photography with his interest in international development. “A Sad Sort of Clean: Hydropower in Northern Manitoba” is an exhibit opening this Friday, May 3 at Winnipeg’s Flatlanders Studio that features photography and video Sawatzky created along with Cree elder Ellen Cook.

The photos and videos feature people and waterways that have been affected by hydro development in Northern Manitoba. Sawatzky and Cook spent 11 days last spring visiting Grand Rapids, Split Lake, and South Indian Lake, three communities that are between five and 11 hours north of Winnipeg.

Commissioned by the Interfaith Task Force on Northern Hydro Development, a coalition of leaders from Mennonite, United, Lutheran, and Roman Catholic churches and The Thunderbird Lodge who aim to promote thoughtful debate on hydro issues, “A Sad Sort of Clean” asks three questions: Is hydropower clean? Are new dams a good idea? Does Manitoba need new dams or a new approach to hydro?

IMG_5455
This image from “A Sad Sort of Clean” depicts fisherman Robert Spence of the Tataskweyak Cree Nation. Photo by Matt Sawatzky.

“The purpose of the project is to show the human cost of our ‘green’ energy,” Sawatzky says. “It’s not to disparage or demonize Manitoba Hydro, but rather, to counter the clean image they present themselves with by showing the people and waterways at the end of the transmission line.”

“The goal was to show that our great hydro-electricity comes at a cost,” he adds.

It was during his time in Guatemala on Outtatown that Sawatzky first fell in love with photography. When he returned home to Winnipeg, he enjoyed getting the prints back that he had shot with a small point-and-shoot camera.

Sawatzky says he enjoys photography in part because it’s a way for him to record his experiences.

“Some people have a journal that they write in, but I’ve started to assemble photo albums for every year of my life,” he says. “It’s a way for me to document memories visually.”

090912MS662
Elder Herb Cook of the Misipawistik Cree Nation (Grand Rapids) surveys wood debris littering Cedar Lake in this image from “A Sad Sort of Clean.” Photo by Matt Sawatzky.

Sawatzky’s Outtatown experience also led him to study IDS. The poverty he witnessed in Guatemala was eye-opening.

“Seeing the poverty, being out of my comfort zone, and seeing how the world actually operates made a big impact on me,” Sawatzky says.

In the years since, he has combined his love for photography and interest in IDS by working with non-governmental organizations in Egypt, Nepal, South Africa, and Zambia. He’s also travelled through India and New Zealand.

Sawatzky is currently working for a landscaping company and in September will start a pre-Master’s program in Landscape Architecture at the University of Manitoba.

“My time at CMU definitely shaped how I try and direct my life,” Sawatzky says. “Ultimately, I want to do work, whether it’s photographic or otherwise, that’s going to address inequalities in the world and work toward justice.”

“A Sad Sort of Clean” opens at Winnipeg’s Flatlanders Studio (782 Main St.) on Friday, May 3 from 7-10 PM. The exhibit will be up until the end of June. Regular hours are 1-4 PM on Saturdays and Sundays (closed May 25-26). For more information, visit the exhibit’s Facebook page at www.tinyurl.com/SadClean.

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Events General News News Releases

Outtatown participants celebrate returning home and finishing program

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The 30 students who traveled to Guatemala as part of the 2012/2013 Outtatown Discipleship School sing and dance at their graduation ceremony. Another 31 students traveled to South Africa.

Winnipeg, April 23, 2013 – Stories of love, hope, community and transformation characterized the 2012/2013 Outtatown Discipleship School Graduation Celebration on Sunday, April 14 as 61 young people graduated from the program.

“For years to come, we will be influenced by the experiences we’ve had as a community, as well as the things we have learned individually,” Ross van Gaalen, a student from Outtatown’s Site 2 South Africa group, shared with the crowd of family and friends who gathered to welcome the students back home after their semester abroad.

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“For years to come, we will be influenced by the experiences we’ve had as a community, as well as the things we have learned individually,” Ross van Gaalen, a student from Outtatown’s Site 2 South Africa group, shared at the graduation ceremony.

“No matter how impactful our relationships have been, no matter which crazy stories will stick with us, and no matter which lessons or insights will affect us most deeply, I believe this year has made us all better prepared to face the rest of our lives.”

Bethany Bustard, a leader from Outtatown’s Site 1 Guatemala group, shared that she and the students learned of God’s transformative love during their time together.

“God’s love is not passive or timid,” Bustard said. “It is a powerful and active force as Christ offers to live in us, place his love in our hearts, and empowers us to go forward giving, receiving, and finding love in both expected and unexpected places.”

IMG_7162
L to R: Erin Harder, Brette Elias, Erica Deighton, Tara Hansen, and Louisa Hofer from the 2012/2013 Site 1 Guatemala group celebrate their graduation from the Outtatown Discipleship School.

The celebration included a time for worship as well as a message by Outtatown instructor Nathan Rieger, who challenged graduates to use their experiences from the program to look at the world differently.

“You have to see differently – that is the core of discipleship,” Rieger said. “To say, ‘Jesus, I want to see with your eyes.’”

Before praying for the graduates, CMU President Cheryl Pauls likened the university to a rich mosaic and spoke of Outtatown’s place in the mosaic.

“Outtatown is definitely a vital part of what makes it glistening and gritty, real and holy,” Pauls said.

Reflecting on the stories he heard students sharing about their experiences, Outtatown Director Cam Priebe said common themes included hope, freedom, and the value of learning in community.

“Our own journey impacts those around us, and their journey impacts ours,” Priebe said, pointing to Outtatown’s mission to inspire students in their life of discipleship with Jesus Christ in a journey towards knowing God, knowing yourself, and knowing the world.

“When that’s done on an individual level, it’s one thing,” Priebe said. “But when it’s done with others, there’s incredible value in that.”

In addition to the South Africa and Guatemala teams, this year’s Outtatown program also included a team that traveled to Burkina Faso. That team graduated this past December.

The Outtatown Discipleship School is a unique and enriching program of serving and learning for students seeking a life-changing experience of adventure, travel, service, and Christian studies.

Through participation in Outtatown, students may earn up to 18 university credit hours for the academic work completed during their programs. Outtatown offers two-semester programs at site locations in Guatemala and South Africa, and a one-semester program in French Africa.

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Audio Outtatown Staff interviews

Stefan Kliewer – Outtatown South Africa Site 2 Leader (2011-2012)

Stefan Kliewer (far left in photo)
Outtatown South Africa Site 2 Leader
Interview Date: April 13, 2012

In this interview, Stefan shares with David Balzer – host of Sunday@CMU Radio, insights into the value of an OT experience and muses about what color he would use to describe South Africa.

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For more information about Outtatown, CMU’s one-year discipleship program, click here

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Audio Outtatown Staff interviews

Bethany Bustard – Outtatown Guatemala Site 1 Leader (2011-2012)

Bethany Bustard (far left in photo)
Outtatown Guatemala Site 1 Leader
Interview Date: April 13, 2012

In this interview, Bethany shares with David Balzer – host of Sunday@CMU Radio, a God-encounter moment from her experience as Guatemala site leader.

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For more information about Outtatown, CMU’s one-year discipleship program, click here

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Audio Outtatown Staff interviews

Josh Dookhie – Outtatown South Africa Site 3 Leader (2011-2012)

Josh Dookhie (far right in photo)
Outtatown South Africa Site 3 Leader
Interview Date: April 13, 2012

In this interview, Josh shares with David Balzer – host of Sunday@CMU Radio, a moment in downtown Vancouver where homelessness became very personal for Site 3 participants.

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For more information about Outtatown, CMU’s one-year discipleship program, click here

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Audio Outtatown Student interviews

Alanna Johnson – Outtatown South Africa Site 3 (2011-2012)

Alanna Johnson
Outtatown South Africa, Site 3 student (2011-2012)
Interview Date: April 14, 2012

Take a listen to candid reflections from Outtatown South Africa Site 3 student, Alanna Johnson, during celebrations on Saturday, April 14, 2012.  David Balzer, host of Sunday@CMU radio, waded into the crowd of over 100 students along with their family and friends that had come on Family Day to celebrate the OT experience from four sites – Guatemala, South Africa 1 & 2 and French Africa.

Site 3 South Africa

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For more information about Outtatown, CMU’s one-year discipleship program, click here

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Audio Outtatown Student interviews

Outtatown South Africa students offer candid reflections (Site 3, 2011-2012)

Matthew Kopperud and Julie Letkeman
Outtatown South Africa, Site 3 students (2011-2012)
Interview Date: April 14, 2012

Take a listen to candid reflections from Outtatown South Africa (Site 3) students during celebrations on Saturday, April 14, 2012.  David Balzer, host of Sunday@CMU radio, waded into the crowd of over 100 students along with their family and friends that had come on Family Day to celebrate the OT experience from four sites – Guatemala, South Africa 1 & 2 and French Africa.

Site 3 South Africa

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


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For more information about Outtatown, CMU’s one-year discipleship program, click here