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Empire, be flown over every public school building. This measure was intended to inculcate feelings of patriotism and materially assist in blending the various nationalities into one common citizenship."
Speaking at a meeting of young Conservatives Roblin said; "I think the man who comes from a foreign country in order to benefit his circumstances and who objects to perpetuating the glories of our flag and declines to have his children infused with British patriotism, is a man that is undesirable"." Going into effect on May 24, 1907 this law aroused the fears of Manitoba's Mennonites who regarded a flag as a military emblem, which if accepted, would be the first step to the loss of their principle of non-resistance and military exemption.
Some Bergthaler leaders, including H. H. Ewert and Bishop Funk, presented petitions to Premier Roblin asking to be exempted from the flag legislation, claiming their "Privilegium" exempted them, but were unsuccessful. In response to this flag legislation, 11 Mennonite district schools reverted to private status in 1907, two in Rhineland, and those who had been slow to accept public schools became even more ada mant. By 1916 district school enrollment in Rhineland was lower than it had been in 1906.
Fig. 14 R.M. of Rhineland District School Population 1896-1916
Year 1896 1901 1906 1911 1916
879 980 904 905
No. per 1000 of Pop. in School
98.9 115.6 105.6 101.0
Attendance 435 439 594 476
Source: John Jacob Bergen, M. Ed. Thesis, 1959.
This decline in attendance led to the passage of the School Atten dance Act and it became clear that the Manitoba Government was ready to make even more drastic changes to the School Act. While many of Rhineland's inhabitants accepted these conditions, the more con servative Mennonites perceived these actions as a direct threat to their corporate rights and their right to live according to their faith. These fears seemed more than justified in the years following.
Municipal Developments and Politics
Though the issue of Nationalism and government control of educa tion was thrusting itself forward, it was at this point still a question