MEI Secondary School
“Our parents decided that a good education for all their children was important and were willing to pay the additional cost of sending their children to MEI.”
I have been invited to write about John and Helena Wedel Suderman and their ten children. All attended and graduated from MEI.
Our parents grew up as teenagers in Gnadenheim in the region of Siberia. Mother’s father, Jacob Wedel was the village school teacher and youth leader. They experienced a happy good life. The outbreak of World War I changed Mennonite life in Russia. Mennonite men were conscripted. Mother was forced to quit school at the age of twelve. She has stated on more than one occasion, It was one of the saddest times of her life. The parents of John and Helena realized that with prohibition of religious freedom, life as it had been in the Mennonite communities in Russia had become untenable. Both families left Russia in 1926 and landed in Manitoba. My parents married in 1927 and move to British Columbia in 1941 with their growing family.
My parents and family settled on Clearbrook Road North in October 1941. The family increased to ten children, each attending and graduating from MEI. The children attended MEI for their high school grades. The years at MEI have provided a legacy of memories, singing in school choirs, playing sports, participating in student committees, and Christian values. Life was busy. The children assisted in the chores on our poultry farm and chick hatchery. The girls picked strawberries, raspberries and hops to earn extra money during the summer. This was to help our parents provide for our Christian education.
Our parents decided that a good education for all their children was important and were willing to pay the additional cost of sending their children to MEI. Dad was a member of the MEI School Board and mother was busy participating in parent support groups.
Luella (1949) Teacher, Abbotsford
Erna (1951) Teacher/Lawyer, Vancouver
John (1951) Teacher/School Principal, Abbotsford & Prince George
Lydia (1954) Reg. Nurse, Vancouver
Peter (1955) Realtor, Abbotsford
Elfrieda (1956) Teacher, Prince George
Jacob (1959) Teacher/Business, Vancouver
Henry (1961) Engineer/Banker, Texas
Edward (1963) Lawyer, Vancouver
Gerald (1966) Pilot/FV Regional Library Delivery, Abbotsford
The farm that we all grew up on Clearbrook Road is appropriately the current side of the Colleen & Gordie Howe Middle School and the W.J. Mouat Secondary School. I still feel quite nostalgic when I drive by our former home. A major part of the farm was a wooded bush area and became a personal quiet space for me and my siblings where we enjoyed some solitude from the busy daily life.
This past summer it was my privilege to travel to Siberia with a group including my brother Jack and cousin Ellie and her husband, Mel. It was very exciting to walk down the main street of Gnadenheim, Siberia where our parents and both grandparents live, attended school, church and other community events.