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.
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 IS YOUR OPINION?
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.
DID THIS SURPRISE YOU?
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.
SHE TOOK A RISK!
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?
WHAT QUESTIONS DO YOU HAVE ABOUT YOURSELF?
DO YOU AGREE WITH HER HERE?
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?
WHY? EXPLAIN! DO YOU UNDERSTAND THIS?
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.
SHE WAS SHOCKED:
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?
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.