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Young Mennonite brings CO project to National Historica Fair


Bright red Mennonite Central Committee buttons reading “To Remember is to Work for Peace” placed in front of Allegra Friesen Epp’s project send an alternative message about war.

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July 25, 2008
-Deborah Froese

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Twelve-year-old Allegra Friesen Epp took her project on conscientious objection to a national audience. She was 1 of 15 students chosen to represent Manitoba at the National Historica Fair in Victoria BC July 7-14, 2008.

A student from École Golden Gate Middle School in Winnipeg, Friesen Epp has family ties with conscientious objection. Her great-great uncle, Nick Friesen, went to prison during World War II when he was denied Conscientious Objector (CO) status.

“I heard a bit about his story and I wanted to gather the information that was all around me and put it into a project,” Friesen Epp says. She realized that the topic of conscientious objection was something many people would not be aware of and she liked the idea of doing something different.

Friesen Epp divided her project into three sections; Alternative Service, Non-Combative Military Service, and men who were denied CO status. With photographs, copies of newspaper clippings, and personal stories of COs, her project raised curiosity among her schoolmates. “Many of them asked questions,” she says. “and I went into further explanation. They were really interested because they’d never heard of it before.”

Her project was one of several chosen to represent Grades 6 and 7 at a school-wide fair, gradually progressing to divisional, provincial and national levels.

Undertaking this project has enhanced Friesen Epp’s personal commitment to peace. “There is another option or solution for conflict. You never need to go to war to solve arguments or problems. There are alternatives.”