I Am Hutterite Video Conference NOTES and QUESTIONS

First of all thank you to Mary-Ann for her book/efforts and the risks she took to tell her story.

Notes from I Am Hutterite Video Conference on October 1 at 9:00 am with Mary Ann Kirby!

She used to live in Lloydminster and worked for NewCap Television.

Hutterites have been in America for 145 years… WOW!
She focused on telling other peoples story but her life story went on untold.
No one has ever told the Hutterite story. She knew- it was time to tell her version!

What do you remember about your young years?
When she(Mary-Ann) sat down she started to really recall what happened and make sense of the memories- she realized she had a lot to take away from them.
We as people need to do the same!
Where we come from is important to know so that we understand how we can continue into the future down the paths we want.

Self publishing:
NO ONE WOULD PUBLISH HER BOOK? Say what? Are publishers crazy…
She was forced to self-publish.
She tried very hard to get it published but everyone said no!
She was so afraid and felt, ‘Nobody is going to want to read this book?’
She started selling them at McNally Robinson and before she knew it…
The book spread like a prairie grass fire!
100,000 copies of her book sold so fast she couldn’t explain it.
She is writing a second book right now called:
Secrets of a Hutterite Kitchen!

She went from small library to small library and these small libraries were jam packed with people. She felt like a Hutterite rockstar. She was so honoured and humbled that people wanted to hear her story. She worked hard having self published. (STUDENTS: When people say no to your dream- PROVE THEM WRONG!)

Mary Ann said:
Beneath the black hats and polka dots- WE ARE JUST LIKE YOU!
We are all people. (HOW DOES THIS MAKE YOU FEEL? Do you agree?)

Hutterish (language) is over 1,000 years old! Mary Ann continues to speak it and practice it! She continues to have a strong relationship with many of her family and colonies.

What is your take on gay rights?
Hutterite opinion- Being gay is a sin.
She knows there are gay people on hutterite colonies.
They chose to remain single and not express themselves usually.
She knows one person like that. They are NOT accepted on a colony if they express themselves.

Her own opinion: Gay people are God’s children and should be treated with respect!


What would happen if someone committed a serious crime like murder on a colony?
There has never been a serious crime and/or murder on a Hutterite colony. Ever.
She went on to say:
That doesn’t mean that we are mild tempered- we are very gregarious people.
We speak our minds and definitely have our differences.

Hutterites don’t believe in Premarital sex! There are times when teenage pregnancy happens. (Hutterites are people too!) If it does happen they are encouraged to marry! Sometimes they chose to raise them single.
There is so much support for the baby and family when this does happen. If it is a situation where they are both adults and marriageable- they are encouraged and gently forced to marry. Sometimes they are more than gently forced. The decisions are usually made to the benefit of the baby.
Remember on a colony:
You don’t have to worry about a mortgage, food, family- This is all done for you.
There are times when our society could learn a lot here I think- What about you?

In the end: It is about taking responsibility for your actions she said.

Are their people on colonies with African heritage?
There are some hutterites with an African Background.
There was/is a Hutterite sort of colony/missionary in Nigeria.
They thought they would do some mission work to help the people.
Hutterites are very industrious so they should them how to work and worship together and live as a community. Some of the women went to marry African American men. Thus having mulatto children. Men would go into the bush for days and have other wives (As was there culture…)
Things sort of fell apart there because this is so different than Hutterite beliefs.
In the meantime they helped them become more self sufficient. When it came time for the woman and men who went to do this missionary work to come home… Many of those mulatto children returned to North America.

Have you had contact with Rhoney since?
(20 years she didn’t have contact with him)
She always felt guilty about the way she broke up with him.
She broke up with him because he was black at the time
even though she was from a culture that was facing prejudice she was discriminatory about him. She was trying so hard to fit in. She did not want people in town to judge her. (ADMITING SHE DID THIS IS KEY. She is a very open and accepting person now. To move on and realize that she was not perfect and had ‘wrong’ thoughts (AS WE ALL DO) was a huge step for her and something I think we can all learn from.

Rhoney was so proud of being black. This was such an eye opener for her. He was never ashamed of his culture. This throw her for a loop. She never told him why she broke up with him and knew she hurt him. She actually tracked him down to make sure it was okay to tell her story. He was so gracious and loving as always and they remain great friends. He moved to Toronto, married and is a chef there.
She has COME FULL CIRCLE she said.

WHEN WAS A TIME YOU HAVE COME FULL CIRCLE? What is something you need to improve on?

On pg 151 she “borrowed the rain cap”.
How does the hutterite colony see borrowing/taking/stealing?
She thinks there is the perception that Hutterites steal and they are followed in stores and have always been accused. They learn the ten commandments.
Sometimes this laps over because on a colony if you need something- you go next door and take it.  As a rule to go and steal something from a store- they were always taught that was wrong.

We have all the troubles than happen within the world she said.

There are 50,000 Hutterites in North America.

What are your parents and siblings up to these days?
Are you still very close with your family?

Everyone is doing well.

Ed: Excel construction in Manitoba
All her brothers are engineers or in construction and all work on Hutterite colonies

All continue to have the Hutterite work ethic.

Mary lives in P.A. (Writer)- has a son, LEVI.

Rosie: Lives an hour and half away and has 4 children.

Genie: Lives in Vancouver and is Mary’s assistant.

Her Mom lives in Brandon and she speaks with her everyday.

Her Father: Lost him two years ago.
When he died: 84 when he passed.
She had strained relationships with the book came out with many family members.
She had to tell some painful truths… especially about her Uncle.
She needed to tell HER story.
She didn’t live in Utopia and knew she couldn’t lie.
Some were deeply hurt by the book.
WHEN HAVE YOU TAKEN, or WANTED to TAKE A RISK that you know was RIGHT for YOU!?

Her wish is that all people should stop judging each other where you are gay, black or Hutterite. What she learned throughout this whole process is:

Humanity is what we have in common…
The cultural heritage is the GIFT we are given at birth.
We cannot reach our full potential unless we know ourselves and where we come from?

She used to hide her ability because she was scared.
One of the hardest things for her to say was, “I Am Hutterite” and she felt she FIRST fit into the Enbglish world when she said, I AM HUTTERITE?
What does this mean?
EXPLAIN: She felt she first fit into the English world by sayind she was a Hutterite?

Incest/’Sperm donors’
She likes this question very much…
The myth: IT IS FALSE!
It doesn’t happen.
When Hutterites first came to Canada.
Farmers were livid that the Hutterites were buying all the land.
They could band together- What happened was: A farmer put it into the Western Producer that they were seaking MORE PEOPLE…
They didn’t read newspapers.
Anything from the outside was very off limits.
People thought that about them….
It is so outrageous that we would compromise out young women.
Height of insanity. It would DISMANTLE their faith!

There are no AIDS and STI’s on Hutterite colonies!
How could they be if that is what they did?
It is so patently false. Hutterites never spoke out against it.

Hutterites are very strict about that.
There were only 400 of them…
It has been proven time and time again: They are good at the women have a strong VOICE! Healthy children are PREMIUM.
Strict code they have self-enforced because of that.
Married a first cousin is NOT allowed.
There has been occasions where second cousins have married.
Health of their children is unbelievable.
Blood test to be allowed to marry.
Never seen a special needs children in her life.
Blood clinics: purity (lack of disease)
Red Cross has honoure dthe Hutterites for being so generous in giving.

Mary Ann spoke candidly answering so many questions! We must thank her. There are so many things WE as INDIVIDUALS can learn from this book. What did you learn?
WHat do you need to be better at in life? Where do you come from? How are you ‘alike’ your family? How are you different? How have your parents influenced who you have become? What can you do to be better?

The beautiful and BRAVE- Mary Ann Kirkby on October 1, 2012 during a video conference with 80+ Holy Rosary High School students!

THANK YOU MARY-ANN Kirkby for your bravery and risking your reputation and relationships to tell your story. What you have done- cannot be described. We thank you for your time and energies.

10 comments on “I Am Hutterite Video Conference NOTES and QUESTIONS

  1. rwenzel says:

    I would like to thank you for Skyping with us, and answering all of our questions. I appreciate you being okay with answering any questions that we had. I was surprised to know that there have never been any murders on the colony. I liked hearing about how you were so confident in your book that you published it by yourself even after so many publishers told you that your book wasn’t good. I envy you for having so much self-confidence. The biggest lesson I think to be learned is that we should stop listening to stereotypes about people who are different from us because all of the stereotypes that we asked you about Hutterites were all false. I need to improve on not judging people by what I hear about them. Another thing that I would like to know is if you have ever watched the show “Breaking Amish” and if you have, how do you feel about what they are doing? My favorite part of the book was when you took the Saran Wrap out of the garbage and took it home to wash and use it for your own food. It really made me appreciate and be grateful for the things I have. Thank you again for talking to us, it was a joy to hear all that you had to say and learn more about your story and about Hutterites.

  2. Today we had a conversation with Mary Ann Kirkby the author of “I Am Hutterite” over Skype. I would like to thank Mary Ann for taking time from her busy schedule for talking to us about her book. I appreciated that she shared her story with everyone and took us on an inside tour of the Hutterite colony. I was surprised that Mary Ann went into such detail with her story. It must have been so hard for her. I relate by her trying to fit in with the English society with me trying to fit in with my family. On my Dad’s side I’m First Nations and I know they do things differently then English people. My dad was kicked out of the house at age 13 so I’m not that close with that side of my family. On my Mom’s side I am Irish / Scottish. I know little to nothing about my family in Ireland. I have also never got the privilege of meeting one of my grandparents. I liked that she was so open about the problems her family faced when they were on the colony and when they moved off the colony. I have further questions about if it would have been harder to be born into English society or Hutterite society. The biggest lesson I think needs to be learned by people is that if you don’t know much about a group of people you shouldn’t assume or make things up. I need to improve on having more time for my family and friends. I need to learn to get things done right the first time. My favourite part of the book is the baseball game when the 6 Dornn kids beat 35 other students in a game of baseball 40-0. I remember going to the best babysitter ever with my childhood friends Barcley Green, and Brandon Rowland. She lived by JC Park so during the winter we would always go sledding. My opinion on gays is like the Hutterite’s view, it is a sin. Thank you for sharing with us Mary Ann.

  3. Today we had the honour of having an interview with the author of the Book “I Am Hutterite”. I would like to thank Mary-Ann for taking time out of her day to have a chat with us. She must be pretty busy having your book become recommended resource for both Saskatchewan and Manitoba English curriculums. I appreciated her openness and how accepting she was of what we asked. It was an open table conversation and she let anything go. I was surprised to know how Hutterite Mary-Ann still is. She still wears Hutterite clothing on occasion and still visits many colonies. I was surprised how her wedding was a blend of English and Hutterite tradition. I was surprised how Mary-Ann explained how she really, really fit into English when she said… “I Am Hutterite”. I thought for sure that she fit in when she hit Grade 12. I can relate to her childhood experience of being humiliated by her dress. I had my Air Cadet survival camp this weekend and if I kept my clothing on from that weekend I would be seen exactly the same way. Combat boots, pants, jacket, face paint and a Tilley hat. People would have thought that I just broke out of an asylum! It must have had been hard to become accepted into English society. I’m glad to see that she still has good relations with her family. I am on the same boat as well; even though most of family on both sides is strewn around the country we still have ties to each other. Heck I even have relatives in Brazil and Holland and still have relationships to them. I’m so grateful that Mary-Ann shared her experience of her childhood and growing up and into English culture. Reading her book and meeting the author was a pleasure. How many times have you done this in your life? I have done it twice with Sigmund Brouwer and now Mary-Ann Kirkby. Its awesome reading a book and then getting meet the author. The person who went through the tale and then wrote about that and with that I thank you Mary-Ann!

  4. Jay David says:

    I would like to thank you Mrs. Kirkby for being such a great guest speaker! You are super duper awesome and I love your confidence and her willingness to speak to us and answer some difficult questions.
    I appreciated how you took time off your busy schedule to talk to us about your thoughts and feelings about your book and the Hutterite culture. Your book has made me appreciate more about the Hutterite culture, and I feel awful for being so ignorant and judging this amazing culture before I have even read your book. It was a great eye opener and a wake up call.
    I was very surprise to know about the conflict that it gave to your family, how your uncle was very mad about telling the secrets that was kept in the colony, but I adored your courage and willingness to keep going through with your vision that has been a success.
    I can totally relate to your book and your life because I came into this country with knowing a little bit about the English culture. I was being made fun off because of my accent and how pronounced things, and thing book made me appreciate more about my culture as well. It showed me that you should be proud of the culture you came from and not to be afraid to stand up for your thoughts and beliefs.
    I liked how you were strong about your beliefs and how your family was religious; It was so awesome to see that you expressed that throughout your book. By trusting God and his marvelous works anything is possible and you clearly showed that!
    The biggest lesson I have learned throughout your book is be thankful for what I have and just be willing to learn about different cultures and not judge them, It is pretty funny because I asked you on our conference about kids judging your book when on the other hand I was doing it. I feel very ashamed and I personally want to say sorry and thank you for being so forgiving.
    My favourite part of the book was when everything started to get better for you, throughout your book I felt your pain and I was astonished how you passed through all the tough times and still having faith. It is very inspirational!
    You are so great! I will for sure read your upcoming book! I hope to learn more about your culture!

    Jay David

    P.S. I love how you make your kid wake up at 7 every morning, this just shows the power of Hutterite mothers. And you should listen to some Taylor Swift, she’s real good!

  5. neil5harris says:

    I would like to thank you for taking the time to answer are questions, and informing us the true facts about the Huttrite people and culture. I was very shocked to here how much the hutterite people outcast suicidal, depressed or people with mental illness as much as they do. But I was very glad to here that the incest marriages myth is false and the huttrite people don’t pay outsiders to have sex with. I was startled to here that there is no Std or AIDS at all in the the huttrite community, it makes sense why there wouldn’t be but I was still surprised to here that the red cross would choose huttrite blood as more favorable then other blood cause it is very clean and disease free.

    I’m glad that in the end that you truly accepted your true culture and background. And that you published this book put tons of your work and time to send this message to the world. Its great to here that you are still connected to the huutrite culture and your embracing Levi in his culture as well.

  6. raynaleigh says:

    I would like to thank you, Mary-Ann, for taking time out of your life to share your story with us. Answering our questions was a big help, and we are all grateful to have this knowledge and understanding.
    I had three main questions that I wanted to know the answers to, and they were all answered today. The first question was about knowing when you fit in with the English world. Knowing that moving away to a different city helped you with this, other people were are also having a difficulty with life may choose to start over somewhere else. Saying “I am Hutterite.” and feeling that you now know your place in the world is truly inspirational.
    My second question was if you ever imagined how your life would have gone if you had stayed with Rhoney. Hearing the answer to this question made total sense. You were still trying to be accepted as Hutterite, so you couldn’t bear to be looked at as even more different than you already were.
    I wondered in my third question what values you passed on to Levi that were taught to you in your childhood. It was very nice to hear that you have a very close relationship with Levi, and he also embraces your background and culture. It sounds like you have done a wonderful job raising him.
    I was surprised to know that you had lived in Lloydminster. This makes me more proud of you because this book will truly benefit Western Canada and provide insight into the culture that is all around us.
    The fact that there has never been murder on a colony surprised me as well. I was glad to hear this. From the book, it is obvious that Hutterites are very open and outspoken, and it is nice to know that arguments have never ended badly, as they often do in our world.
    The biggest lesson I learned was along the lines of “don’t beat around the bush”. If you have questions, ask someone. If you have heard misconceptions, clarify them. If you are opposed to something, state your opinion.
    I loved hearing about all the support that you have had from people showing up to libraries and wanting to hear your story.
    I agree with your statement of beneath the black hats and polka dots we are just like you. I have always agreed with this kind of statement. Just because someone has a different background and culture, it doesn’t mean they don’t share emotions and thoughts with us. We are all human, and we all deserve to be treated the same, not judged by who we are and where we come from.
    Hearing you speak about Rhoney was enlightening. You reconciled with your past and I’m very glad that you are friends again. I too have done something very similar to this, recently actually. It made me feel like I can move on and not feel regret for the past.
    Thank you for risking your relationships to share your story. You are very inspirational.

  7. bossaer says:

    I would like to thank you for your time telling us your story, and answering our questions. Your story is one that had touched every one of us, and had forever changed our perceptions on Hutterite culture. I was surprised to find out that there has never been a homicide on a Hutterite colony. It just goes to show you how mutual people are on the colonies and how much faith shapes their lives. As much as I enjoyed the Skype session with the class, there was one question I wish I had asked you. How are Hutterite relations with other Ana-Baptist groups like the Mennonites and Amish? And how do these relations influence your differences and similarities? I understand how their culture differentiates from yours, but do these differences bring you closer together, or set you farther apart?
    After reading your book, I feel like I learned another important aspect of Canadian heritage and culture. You shared with us a part of this country that not many people have witnessed; a part of this country that, separate from our society or not, will always have a place in our history. You truly opened a window for us from which to view a misunderstood culture within our own. Your book has opened my eyes to not only Hutterite culture, but has prompted me to do the same to others. We live in one of the most culturally accepting countries in the world; yet we remain uneducated about the many ethnicities that make up this nation. Although your book was already very in-depth, I’m glad that we will be making the trip to O.B. Colony near Marwayne, Alberta, to experience the Hutterite way of life to it’s full extent. When it comes to what I disliked in your story, there is nothing obvious to point out. You were very descriptive, and did a remarkable job at telling your story; through it’s ups, and downs. If there’s anything I need to personally improve on, it would be catching up on some simple German, because that seems to be the only thing I didn’t learn from your book, which had flew above my expectations! Thank you!

    As you said in your book, “Things that you do, do with your might; things done by halves are never done right” (pg.123). I love this quote, and it’s a great example of how you achieved success!

  8. simoneduke04 says:

    I would really like to thank Mary-Ann Kirkby for taking the time to Skype with my Global Media Studies class and the other English 20 classes this morning. I really appreciate that she answered all our questions we had about the book. We are truly lucky to have had such an inspirational woman speaking to us. I was surprised to know that there have been no Hutterite people to commit serious crimes on the colony. I can kind of relate when she feels lonely and like she doesn’t belong at school, because like Mary-Ann, I too have felt alone at school. I believe that it’s a part of growing up, going through that awkward stage where you have no one, but you get over it and make friends. Before reading the book “I Am Hutterite”, I thought that living on a colony would be very boring and kind of dull. It seems like they have a lot of fun on the colony and its probably nice to have everyone treating you like family. If only the people in the English culture people were as close as Hutterites are. My favorite part of the book was when the young boy was saying that his mother was going to kill him because he got his pants dirty. It showed how much innocence Mary-Ann had because she took it seriously and she was so concerned. It was really sweet to read about how she prayed for him because it really upset her to think that his own parents, the people who are supposed to love you unconditionally, would kill the little boy over muddy pants. I like how she can still go back to the colony even though her family left; its nice to know that she wasn’t shunned by the colony. Mary-Ann said, “Beneath the black hats and polka dots- we are just like you” I agree with her completely, they are people too. Just because we do not dress the same way, or believe the same beliefs, does not mean they deserve to be treated like aliens. When people see Hutterites at Walmart they stare, and act like they’ve never seen someone different in their whole life. I too used to react that way, until I read the book and realized that Mary-Ann has been through some of the same things English families have gone through. They are no different from us and we are all equal. It was really big of her to admit that she broke up with her teenage boy friend because he was black. She was already judged enough and all she wanted was to fit in with everyone else. It was nice to know that Rhoney was so understanding when Mary-Ann explained to him why she had broken up with him. I would once again like to thank Mary-Ann for speaking to our class.

  9. danio43us67 says:

    First of all, I would really like to thank you for your time with us and your willingness to answer our questions. I understand some of our questions must have been very difficult to answer and I greatly appreciate your openness.

    I can relate to your story, because I come from Poland and I am a new immigrant into Canada. Lloydminster is a very nice city, full of kind people and very tolerant, but nonetheless there are moments when I feel like an outsider.

    When I read your book, it helped me take pride in my language, my culture and my unique heritage. It doesn’t matter too much anymore what other people think of me. My culture defines who I am. Yes, I have taken much from others, but this is where I was born, where I grew up. My parents are from Poland and my entire family is as well. This is the biggest lesson that I learned. I agree with your view in the Prologue: “What I know with certainty today is that our humanity is what we have in common, but our cultural heritage is the special gift each of us is given at birth. Until we embrace who we are and really value the power it is meant to bring to our lives, we cannot realize our true potential”. You are proud of your culture and I must learn to be proud of mine. Thank you for this powerful message.

    I was so shocked when I heard no publisher wanted your book. You are such a great storyteller and the topic is very interesting. It makes no sense to me, why not even a single publisher wanted to publish it. You self-published it and now it is a school novel.

    You answered a question about gay people and said that all people are God’s children and I accept your opinion. I believe every person should have equal rights and freedom to express themselves. Gay people are people like you and me and we should be tolerant to them and make them feel welcome. This is what we would want and we should do the same for others.

    I was very surprised to hear that no murder or serious crime has ever been committed on a Hutterite colony. This only speaks of Hutterites as very kind and nonviolent people. We should strive for this in the outside world. As well as that, I felt it was the right thing to care about others, like the Hutterites do. On a Hutterite colony everything is shared and everyone helps each other. Every action has consequences and we should take responsibility for them, but we should also love our neighbour.

    You also told us about your relationship with Rhoney and the reasons why you broke up with him. It was very hard for you to fit in and the fact that Rhoney was a black man made it even worse. But you realized that he was proud of being black and proud of his culture and this is what I have to achieve. You first felt truly accepted in the ouside world when you said “I am Hutterite”. Unless we do not accept who we are we will not be accepted.

    Thank you Mary-Ann Kirkby.

  10. selinabrianne says:

    I would like to thank you for taking the time to talk to us about your book and explain and answer some of the questions we had for you. I appreciated how you were very open to explaining anything we were wondering or unsure of. What really surprised me about life on a Hutterite colony was that some of the same problems we have in the English world happen there as well. The thing that I can relate to that you went through when you were first exposed to the English world was, worrying about fitting in. I have never experienced such a change of culture like that, but I still feel as if I need to do certain things or be a certain way to really fit in with everyone. I really like how only when you were able to say you were Hutterite and really embrace that about yourself was the first time you really felt accepted into the English world. In your book, it gives us a great insight of Hutterite life, clearing up some of the rumors and assumptions that are still said today but I still have a few questions. I know that Hutterites are allowed to request permission to leave the colony, but I wanted to know if they are still restricted to following rules as if they were still on the colony, or are they allowed to do anything they want as long as they’re not there. I think your book is very inspirational because it teaches people that even if you are ashamed about your past, it’s important to know about it and to learn to love who you are and where you come from. And again, I thank you for answering our questions and further explaining things that were mentioned in your book!

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