Low German people initially moved to Chatham-Kent in the mid-1980s and continue to immigrate from Mexico and Bolivia. Low German refers to the specific dialect of the German language, not a connection with status. Many Low German families live in rural areas of Chatham-Kent, working in the agricultural sector as they have done for several centures in Mexico, Canada, Ukraine, Russia and Poland.
Many Low German people have maintained their faith and religious values as they were expressed during the 1870s. Dresden is home to a church, and community centre, built by the Low German community, and a private school has been established in Tupperville for Low German-speaking students. Traditional values and beliefs are taught at school to help students maintain their culture in a new country.
The Low German people celebrate religious holidays with family, typically considering Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, and Ascension Day as very important. Some drive to Mexico for these holidays to visit extended family. Church leaders are volunteers within the church and are elected to provide services in several churches on a rotational basis.
The Low German-speaking people value hard work and tend to work as a family. Men commonly prefer to work with their hands, in agriculture, skilled trades, and manufacturing. Many work on farms and in greenhouses, have started successful roofing and construction businesses, or work as welders, mill rights and mechanics.
While some women work in greenhouses and on farms during the spring and summer months, the majority of mothers are full-time caregivers for their children and homemakers. Women tend to be excellent cooks, bakers, and some are very skilled seamstresses. Many have learned from their mothers to make everything from scratch. Saturdays are often baking days when women bake buns, cookies, cinnamon and peanut rolls. The Low Germany cuisine is now a selection of foods from Russia, Mexico and Canada. Favourites are chicken noodle soup, tacos, tamales, and fried crackles.
Major family events are often connected to work. Butchering either a pig or chicken is a family celebration, with fun and humour involved in preparing food such as sausage and Rebspaea (ribs). Low German people are accustomed to working six days a week, reserving Sundays as non-working days except for necessary farm-related work.
The Mennonite Central Committee has more information about Low Germany culture, including the videos below:
Low German Speaking Community
Contact Person: Lily Hiebert Rempel