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The Mennonite West Reserve much as it would have appeared to the Mennonite
delegates from Russia.
after 1875 have been characterized as part of a conservative reform or revival movement seeking to re-establish the Mennonite ideal of total separation of Church and State and a return to the old values in an uncompromised form. 22
Johann Wiebe, an elder of the Fuerstenland group, was concerned that the Mennonites in Russia had become too involved in the area of civil and worldly authority to the detriment of the Church and the scripture. He saw the migration to Canada as halting the drift towards the exercise of worldly authority." This is an accurate description of intent, but in practice Manitoba Mennonite response was much more ambivalent. While the first few years in Canada saw the establishment of traditional line villages isolated from the rest of society, within a few years some Mennonites began exporting a wheat surplus onto the world market, became involved in business ventures, and participated in municipal affairs.
As such, Mennonite settlement should not only be seen within the themes of reform, separation, and tradition, but also within the themes of accommodation, participation and modernization. This was not simply progressive adaptation from one to another, traditional to mod em or separated to acculturated, rather the two existed side by side with a continual tension between the two.
A comparison between the Mennonites and the Metis in Manitoba illustrates more clearly the ambivalence of the Mennonite position.