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party to Mexico had returned with a favourable report and two delega­ tions later, the last of which met with President Alvaro Obregon, the decision was made to move to Mexico. The privileges they had been promised included complete exemption from military service, and unrestricted right to religious principles and the authority to conduct schools without government interference. 24 Armed with these promises the Reinlaender leaders in Manitoba and Saskatchewan proceeded to purchase adjacent tracts of 155,000 and 74,125 acres in the state of Chihuahua in 1921.

Mennonite Emigrants leaving Altona for Paraguay in the 1920's.

Credit: CMCA

Following the purchase of lands it became the responsibility of Bishop Johan Friesen of Manitoba to convince his people to accept emigration. It was made clear that faithfulness required emigration to Mexico, since the government in Manitoba was using the public schools to assimilate the Mennonites. Compulsion in school matters, however, was not the only reason for emigration. The encroaching outside world was leading to conformity in other matters, to such an extent that church leaders felt it necessary to emigrate to avoid absorption into the world."

To ascertain who would remain loyal to the Church and emigrate, Reinlaender Church members were asked to register with the Bishop. This made it difficult for those who did not wish to leave Manitoba and many registered only to stay in Canada, or return shortly after emigrat-