Canadian documentary tells CO stories

Jan 16, 2017 by and

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WINNIPEG, Man. — A film produced by the Mennonite Heritage Centre Archives about conscientious objectors in World War II is garnering significant attention.

"The Last Objectors"

“The Last Objectors”

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. 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, Indonesia. It was also nominated for the Best Feature Documentary at the Views of the World Music & Film Festival in Montreal this summer.

The Last Objectors embodies faith, peace and service in action. It includes interviews with a handful of still-living World War II 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,” said Korey Dyck, director of the 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.”

Unique perspective

Andrew Wall of Refuge 31 films directed the documentary. He said the project came to light through his connection with Conrad Stoesz, MHC archivist, with whom he attended Canadian Mennonite Bible College (now Canadian Mennonite University). A passionate supporter of conscientious objection, Stoesz is the energy behind alternativeservice.ca, a website exploring how COs found ways to serve their country. His success in securing grants for The Last Objectors helped 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,” he said. “Unlike the veterans, their stories haven’t been all that well recorded. . . . It was a story worth telling.”

The Last Objectors is the second part of two 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 Last Objectors has been screened for several congregations, the Mennonite Historical Society of Ontario and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg. The latter event included discussion with Wall and some of the COs profiled in the film.

A trailer is online at commonword.ca/go/831.


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