A statue commemorating the Russländer migration of Mennonites to the Steinbach region between 1923 and 1926 will be put up in Steinbach around October of this year.
Daniel Banman, representative of The Robert D. & Joanne S. Banman Heritage Foundation, says his great grandparents, Jacob and Barbara Banman, were part of the Russländer migration and arrived in 1924 and 1926 respectively.
“My grandfather was aboard the vessel, the Empress of Scotland, he arrived in Montreal on the 2nd of October, 1926, at 8 years of age, along with his mother, father, three sisters, and his brother.”
Being the 100th anniversary of the migration, the Banmans thought it would be an ideal time to commemorate this key part of Steinbach's local history.
“We hope the statue will also pay tribute to all the people who have had to flee their home countries and settle in our region over the years,” he says. “It's important to recognize that exactly 100 years ago after the Russländer migration, people are also escaping the same region to Steinbach under the exact same circumstances.”
The statue itself is bronze, nine feet tall, and weighs around 1,800 pounds. It depicts a young family that was forced to flee their homeland.
The statue will be located in front of the Millennium Clock Tower as seen in their to-scale mock-up.
They hope to have a formal dedication ceremony, with a tentative unveiling date of October this year.
Mayor Earl Funk believes the statue will commemorate not just the Banmans, but all the families that have given up so much to immigrate and start again in Steinbach.
“And most recently, with many of the Ukrainian families that have come, and how they're being integrated into our community and working hard and starting all over again.”
He is looking forward to seeing the statue become a part of Steinbach's Main Street.
“It's a great piece of art to have downtown, and I thank you so much for you and your family for coming forward with this, and just commemorating such a milestone in your family's life, 100 years being in Steinbach.”
The Robert D. & Joanne S. Banman Heritage Foundation was established in 2008 to recognize Steinbach’s history.
Other projects the foundation has been involved in include the Millenium Clock Tower and the large mural depicting Reimer Avenue in the 50’s.
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