Youth invited to explore ‘reconciling relationships’ at new CMU peace event

In the spirit of its popular Peace-It-Together event, and together with a range of ministry partners, CMU is launching a brand-new gathering for high-school youth this fall.

Titled sixpointeight: equipping peacebuilders, the event takes place from 2:00 to 8:00 PM on Sunday, October 15, 2017. Youth in grades 9 to 12 from across Canada are invited to gather around the theme, “Reconciling Relationships in the Way of Jesus.”

Six Point Eight Promotional ImageIn addition to featuring keynote addresses by Kathy Giesbrecht, Associate Director of Leadership Ministries at Mennonite Church Manitoba, and Lloyd Letkeman, Mission Mobilizer at MB Mission, sixpointeight will feature worship, inspiring workshops modelled after TED talks, and diverse opportunities for youth to reflect on, and respond to, what they have learned.

“This event extends CMU’s commitment to educate for peace-justice,” says Terry Schellenberg, Vice President External and head of the sixpointeight planning committee. “As with many of CMU’s initiatives, we’re gratified to bring together a diverse range of church, church school, and service agencies to offer this significant peace-equipping youth gathering.”

Planned to coincide with Mennonite Church Canada’s Special Delegate Assembly in Winnipeg October 13-15, sixpointeight takes its name from Micah 6:8: “…to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”

Together with CMU, MB Mission, Mennonite Church Manitoba, Mennonite Brethren Church Manitoba, Mennonite Central Committee, Westgate Mennonite Collegiate, Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute, and Mennonite Collegiate Institute are all co-sponsoring and planning the event.

Sixpointeight will replace the long-running Peace It Together conference, which was held for the last time in 2015.

Visit for more information.

Events News Releases

Youth Learn About Indigenous and Settler Relations at Peace It Together Conference

“A Meeting Place: Hearing God in Indigenous Voices” was the topic of Peace It Together (PIT) 2015, Canadian Mennonite University’s youth conference, which took place October 23-25, 2015.

The conference focused on making Biblical and Anabaptist themes of peace and justice relevant for today.

Seventy-five youth, youth sponsors, and pastors from across Canada gathered to hear stories from Indigenous and settler speakers, participate in acts of peace, and build new friendships.

The KAIROS blanket exercise, facilitated by MCC Canada’s Sue Eagle and Miriam Sainnawap with MCC Canada, kicked off the national youth conference

“It was a very valuable experience to be surrounded by likeminded people,” says Marnie Klassen, a grade 12 student from Abbotsford, BC. “It was so good to have meaningful conversations in an open space—to be open to questioning with both head and heart.”

The weekend began with the KAIROS Blanket Exercise, a workshop that explores the nation-to-nation relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. Sue Eagle and Miriam Sainnawap, coordinators of Indigenous Neighbours with MCC Canada, led the workshop, which helps participants understand how the colonization of land impacts those were here before settlers arrived.

Steve Heinrichs, Director of Indigenous Relations at Mennonite Church Canada, and his daughter Abby, shared about settler colonialism and the importance of learning the stories of both Indigenous and settler peoples.

“If you want to love someone, you need to know their story. If you want to know someone, you need to learn their story,” said Heinrichs.

Larry Monkman, an elder with the council of elders at Winnipeg’s Circle of Life Thunderbird House speaks to PIT participants

Christy Anderson (CMU ’11) shared about the impact colonialism has on her life as an inter-generational Residential School Survivor.

Clairissa Kelly and Wayne Mason spoke about the Peguis First Nation Indigenous Transition Program that CMU is hosting this year. Kelly, Mason, and Della Mason sang ceremonial songs of healing, love, and thankfulness.

Participants had the opportunity to take part in one of six ‘acts of peace’ including: learning about seed-saving at the CMU Farm; learning about solidarity activism and creating a solidarity activism art peace; going on a prayer walk through the Canadian Museum for Human Rights; hearing from an elder at the Circle of Life Thunderbird House; visiting Indigenous Family Centre and beading medicine bags; or learning about Christian Peacemaker Teams’ work on Turtle Island.

Activities such as square dancing, outdoor games, karaoke, and a scavenger hunt provided additional opportunities for youth to get to know each other.

PIT participants discussed how to take what was learned and apply the lessons to their daily lives

Krista Loewen, Associate Pastor of Wildwood Mennonite Church in Saskatoon, SK, says “Attending PIT reignited a passion for justice within me as a peacebuilder. I was reminded that working to build relationships with my Indigenous neighbours is integral to my faith and how I feel called to live in this world as a follower of Christ.”
The weekend closed with a sharing circle, providing participants with an opportunity to speak about what they will take away from the conference.

“I am inspired and challenged to go home to a place whose land I know it should be, to step out of my comfort zone, and to build relationships,” says Klassen.

Youth from Wildwood Mennonite Church also attended: “My youth were pushed to reimagine the history and legacy of Mennonites in Canada—most notably having to reconcile the fact that Mennonites were given stolen Indigenous land to farm and live to this day,” says Loewen.

“The youth were also challenged to emotionally connect to this topic that they had learned about in school…and hopefully use their thoughts and emotions to inspire others to consider their relationships with their Indigenous neighbours.”

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

Events News Releases Uncategorized

Conference Inspires Youth to Pursue Peace and Seek Justice

‘The great adventure we get to be on is following Jesus,’ speaker says

How do we practice peace and justice in our daily lives? That was the question acclaimed activist Shane Claiborne explored at Peace It Together (PIT) 2013, Canadian Mennonite University’s (CMU) conference for youth focusing on biblical and Anabaptist themes of peace.

Shane Claiborne at PIT 2013
Shane Claiborne at PIT 2013

Over the course of three worship sessions, Claiborne challenged the more than 100 youth, youth sponsors, and pastors from across Canada who gathered at PIT to see that being a Christian isn’t about what happens to us in the afterlife, but rather, it’s about the way we spend our time on Earth.

“Jesus didn’t come just to prepare us to die, but to show us how to live,” Claiborne said.

Claiborne, author of a number of books, including The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical, told stories from his various ministry experiences, including working with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India; a trip with a Christian Peacemaker Team to Iraq in 2003; and living with The Simple Way, a community he helped start in Philadelphia’s Kensington neighbourhood.

He told listeners that there are a variety of ways to pursue peace and seek justice in their daily lives, and that everyone is invited to do something with their gifts that contributes to the redemptive work God is doing in the world.

He added that ultimately, more important than what you do or accomplish in this life is who you are becoming as a child of God.

“In the end, the great adventure we get to be on is following Jesus,” Claiborne said.

On Saturday afternoon, youth participated in a variety of different workshops to put into action the things they learned from Claiborne.

Youth had the option to visit a L’Arche community; visit Cedar Lane Farm, an organic farm located in a house-barn in rural Manitoba; spend the afternoon at Neechi Commons, a supermarket, bakery, and fish market in Winnipeg’s North End that fosters neighbourhood revitalization; visit House Blend Ministries, an intentional community in downtown Winnipeg; build instruments; or create and distribute a broadsheet newspaper with recent news stories rewritten from the perspective of peace

PIT also included times for small group reflection; opportunities to play sports or create art; and social events like square dancing, karaoke, and a talent show.

Robbie Friesen, a Grade 12 student from Vineland, ON., said the conference gave him a new understanding of what it means to be a disciple of Christ

Shane Claiborne addresses youth at one of his three speaking sessions
Shane Claiborne addresses youth, youth leaders, and pastors at one of his three speaking sessions

“When Jesus said, ‘Give up everything and follow me,’ there are different ways you can look at that,” said Friesen, 17, who traveled to Winnipeg with his youth group from Vineland United Mennonite Church. “I’ll definitely remember Shane’s stories of active peace and following Jesus.”

Hannah Thiessen, a Grade 11 student from Cambridge, ON., agreed.

“Shane makes it easy to wrap your brain around actually doing these things,” said the 15-year-old, from Wanner Mennonite Church. “I hope that I can act on what I’ve learned and contribute to my community in some way.”

Lois Nickel, Director of Enrolment Services at CMU and one of PIT’s organizers, said that was the goal of the conference.

“We wanted to show youth that you can live out peace wherever you are,” Nickel said. “We hope youth pastors and leaders will be taking ideas and inspiration from this weekend to go and try new things with their youth groups.”

CMU will host the next Peace It Together youth conference in October 2015.

Events General News News Releases

CMU Holds 2012 PIT Youth Conference

March 8, 2012 – Canadian Mennonite University’s (CMU) Peace-It-Together (PIT) Conference takes place on campus March 9 to 11, 2012. CMU welcomes high school students from youth groups all across Canada to stay at CMU and to share and discuss peace and justice issues with one another. The theme of this year’s PIT conference is “Jesus: The Peace that Matters,” focusing specifically on what the story of Jesus teaches us about peacemaking.

“It is exciting to anticipate youth from across Canada coming together to discuss Christian peacemaking,” says Harry Huebner. “Giving attention to Jesus is important in a world where we do not seem to know the things that make for peace.”

The Peace-It-Together Conference is a great opportunity for youth to learn from a variety of speakers, make friends, and see what CMU is all about. The Conference will be filled with activities of worship, discussion, singing, drama, games, and workshops.

Worship sessions and workshops will focus specifically on what the story of Jesus teaches us about peacemaking. The speakers, all CMU professors, will consider topics such as food, politics, and power, and ask how concerns around these topics can be shaped by the story of Jesus.

The worship session leaders include Kenton Lobe, Instructor in International Development Studies; Justin Neufeld, Lecturer in Philosophy; and Irma Fast Dueck, Associate Professor of Practical Theology. Focusing their sessions on the temptations of Jesus by the devil, PIT’s worship leaders will explore how the peace Jesus offers is true peace, respecting human freedom and the power of God, and how the peace the world offers is false peace.
Other highlighted weekend events include CMU’s get-to-know-you game called “Walk-a-Mile,” jam sessions, a drama presentation titled “Gadfly” by Theatre of the Beat, art workshops, movies, Variety Night, and sports activities. The PIT conference is hosted by students and allows youth to integrate into the CMU community and meet some CMU professors and staff.

PIT is an opportunity for youth to explore what CMU is all about and learn about peace in the process. Peace and justice are integrated into the core of the CMU institution and this conference helps to nurture a vision for peacemaking among the youth in Canada.


Peace It Together Conference Returns

Performer Ted Swartz among key presenters at March 2011 event
For release November 25, 2010

Youth and their leaders from across Canada will gather at CMU in March 11 – 13, 2011 to discuss how each can bring their own “pieces of peace” to a world in need of healing, peace, and justice.

Peace it Together (PIT) was held for 31 consecutive years until last year. “It was time to step back and assess its future,” says Abe Bergen, director of Enrolment Services at CMU, who was centrally involved in the planning of PIT for the past 10 years. “After talking to stakeholders across Canada, the message was clear – CMU needs to continue to nurture a vision for peacemaking among the youth in Canada. This conference will invite high school students into a faith commitment to Jesus Christ and challenge them to grow a faith that embodies understanding, reconciliation, and service.”

“We are excited about the return of PIT and the increased opportunities for our own CMU students to be involved in this event.” says PIT Steering Committee Co-chair Lisa Kelly. “PIT offers a great opportunity for our youth to benefit from sessions with some really dynamic and creative presenters, both from within the CMU community and without, and we will all learn and grow from contributions from our youth as they reflect on the theme, ‘Pieces of Peace.’”

PIT takes place at CMU’s campus in south Winnipeg. The program will feature drama from Ted Swartz ( ) and presentations by CMU speakers Adelia Neufeld Wiens, Dan Epp-Tiessen, and Jarem Sawatsky.

Actor, playwright, and storyteller, Ted Swartz has been enacting faith stories to audiences across the U.S. and Canada for over two decades. Swartz and the late Lee Eshleman, through their company Ted & Lee TheaterWorks, developed such plays as Armadillo Shorts, Fish-Eyes, Creation Chronicles, Live at Jacob’s Ladder and DoveTale . Swartz continues to write and perform plays with a number of artists. He brings humour and imagination to the re-telling of familiar faith stories. His presentations at PIT will include a drama called, “I’d Like to Buy an Enemy.”

Neufeld Wiens is the coordinator for student advising at CMU. Before coming to work at CMU, she served as a guidance counsellor in Nairobi, Kenya at Rosslyn Academy, a Christian International School run by three denominations.

In her time in Kenya, Neufeld Wiens learned that conflict is “interpersonal, cross-cultural, and interreligious.” Her presentation at PIT 2011 will draw on her interest in building bridges, both physical and metaphorical.

“I will speak about how relationships with each other help us to build peace,” says Neufeld Wiens.

PIT presenter Dan Epp-Tiessen also served overseas, serving in the Philippines with his family from 1982 to1986 through Mennonite Central Committee.

Epp-Tiessen, associate professor of Bible at CMU, will talk about how we can open ourselves personally to God’s healing and peace so that we can become part of God’s agenda for healing and peace in the larger world. He will draw on his experiences of being father to Tim, who lived with multiple disabilities and who died of cancer at the age of eight.

For Jarem Sawatsky, some of his earliest memories were at peace rallies, fasts, and protests, so he was “born into the peace movement,” he says.
Along with being a professor of Peace and Conflict Transformation Studies at CMU, Sawatsky is co-director of the Canadian School of Peacebuilding, a school of CMU. Sawatsky has extensive experience lecturing on restorative justice and on peacebuilding locally and overseas.

“I plan to discuss loving our enemies and the various contexts in which we’re called to do that,” says Sawatzky, who will speak on this in relation to his own personal journey and in relation to foreign policies.

The cost to participate* in PIT is $100 if registered by Jan. 31, 2011 and $125 if registered after Feb. 1, 2011. (* includes registration, food and lodging at CMU)

Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) is a Christian university offering undergraduate degrees in the arts and sciences, business, communications and media, peace and conflict resolution studies, music, music therapy, theology, and church ministries, as well as graduate degrees in Theological Studies and Christian ministry. Located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, CMU has over 1,700 students at its Shaftesbury Campus in Southwest Winnipeg, at Menno Simons College in downtown Winnipeg, and enrolled through its Outtatown discipleship program. CMU is a member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) .
For PIT information, contact:
Lisa Kelly, PIT Steering Committee Co-chair, CMU Assistant Director of Enrolment;

For CMU information, contact:
Nadine Kampen, Communications & Marketing Director ; Tel. 204.487.3300 Ext. 621