A film produced by the Mennonite Heritage Centre (MHC) Archives about Conscientious Objectors (COs) is garnering significant attention.
The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) recently aired The Last Objectors on its national channel, as well as in Manitoba. The 44 minute documentary won a Silver World Humanitarian award in Jakarta, India. It was also nominated for the Best Feature Documentary at the Views of the World Music & Film Festival in Montreal this summer. The film embodies faith, peace and service in action.
The Last Objectors includes interviews with a handful of still-living WWII COs who describe the faith that drove them to refuse arms and the resistance they faced from society for their choice.
“The Last Objectors acknowledges these men’s experiences as both important and valid,” says Korey Dyck, Director, MHC Archives and Gallery. “For some, this is their only chance to tell their story about serving Canada in a peaceful way during the Second World War.”
Andrew Wall of Refuge 31 films directed the documentary. Wall says the project came to light through his connection with Conrad Stoesz, MHC archivist, whom he attended Canadian Mennonite Bible College with (CMBC, now Canadian Mennonite University). Stoesz is a passionate supporter of conscientious objection and the energy behind www.alternativeservice.ca/, a website exploring how COs found ways to serve their country. His success in securing grants for The Last Objectorshelped see the project to fruition.
The unique perspective of those who chose not to go to war captured Wall’s attention. “The COs, like the veterans of the Second World War, are fading away. Unlike the veterans, their stories haven’t been all that well recorded . . . it was a story worth telling.”
The Last Objectors is the second of two parts in The CO Project. The film was produced in association with the CBC, MTS Stories From Home, and the support of Heritage Canada through the World Wars Commemoration Fund. The film has already been screened for several congregations, the Mennonite Historical Society of Ontario, and the Winkler Senior Centre (Man.) with ample time included for discussion. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) in Winnipeg will show the documentary on Nov. 26, followed by a Q & A with director Andrew Wall and some of the conscientious objectors profiled in the film.
Watch a trailer for the film: