As a young woman, Anna Thiessen wanted to be a missionary in India, however, she ended up in Winnipeg creating a difference for working women.
Anna Thiessen's story of immigrating from Russia to Canada is how the second season of Still Speaking begins.
Still Speaking is a radio show created by Conrad Stoesz that tells stories about people, places, and events preserved in documents and artifacts in the Mennonite Heritage Archives. The aim is to learn about the past, and the role of archives in society, and give listeners something to think about. Together we can listen to the people of the past "still speaking."
Over the course of the next twelve weeks, many stories will focus on the migration of thousands of Russian Mennonites to Canada beginning in 1923. Between 1923 and 1930, over 21,000 Mennonites arrived in Canada from the Soviet Union, and in this season of Still Speaking listeners will hear stories about this mass migration and its implications.
Archivist Conrad Stoesz, from the Mennonite Heritage Archives in Winnipeg, is hosting the program.
The Connections podcast: real life, real faith
This week's story is about Anna Thiessen, who emigrated from Russia to Canada in 1903, settling with her family in Saskatchewan. In the early 20s, she moved to Winnipeg, where she worked as a city missionary for the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches for the next eight years.
Her most significant work came from her sewing circle, which led her to be the matron of the Mary & Martha Home in 1925. The Mary & Martha Home is a faith-based company where those interested can create their own schedule, share inspirational products, earn income, and engage in community—a sisterhood. The Mary & Martha Sisterhood is a community of women across the nation that builds one another up in faith and business.
During Anna's time, on Sunday's, their only day off, young women would gather at the home to rest, socialize and share their sorrows in a safe environment.
Anna tried to make a difference by confronting employers to treat their female employees fairly, and lobbied Winnipeg City Council for better work conditions for them too. She even kept note of vicious employers and would direct women looking for work in other directions, which created pressure for employers to treat women fairly in the workplace.
Anna Thiessen served as an advocate, pastor, caseworker, surrogate worker and friend to young women in Winnipeg until she was 59 years old.
With files from Chris Sumner