War And The Conscientious Objector:
A History Conference

War and the Conscientious Objector - Poster

20 and 21 October 2006

On October 20 and 21, 2006, a history conference will highlight the experience of Canadian conscientious objectors in the Second World War. During this time about 60% of Mennonite men who were called to military service agreed with their church and refused to participate in active military service and opted rather for the alternative service program as negotiated by the Mennonite leaders with the Canadian Federal Government. This story, while reflecting Mennonite church teachings, has not been fully told. Many people know nothing or very little about the story, experience, and significance of the conscientious objectors, even in the Mennonite community. In fact it seems counter-cultural to talk about peace and alternatives to war in a time when media celebrates participation in the war and calls on us to remember and honor members in the armed forces and their actions.

This conference will take a critical look at the experience of the Canadian conscientious objector in the Second World War, but also include speakers who have carried on that value and stance in recent times. The Conference has invited speakers from BC to Quebec, from various Mennonite denominations as well as from the United Church, Jehovah’s Witness, Quaker and Brethren in Christ denominations. In addition experts on pacifism in Canada, as well as university students, and actual COs will speak.

The Chair of Mennonite Studies will host these lectures at the University of Winnipeg’s Eckardt Gramatte Hall. As in past years, the public is invited to attend all sessions for free. Selected lectures will be published in the peer-evaluated publication Journal Of Mennonite Studies. The planning committee for the conference includes John Derksen, Esther Epp-Tiessen, Royden Loewen, Conrad Stoesz, and Hans Werner. The conference is sponsored by the Chair in Mennonite Studies, Mennonite Historical Society of Canada, MCC Canada, and Menno Simons College.

Click here to download the official event brochure (file size: 2MB).