The genesis of a book written by a Nova Scotia woman about her Mennonite upbringing in Oklahoma and Ontario began right here in Mission.
Mary Ediger was an elementary school teacher in Mission for many years and will be returning here Feb. 29 to read excerpts from her book, Mennonite Girl, at the library.
A two-week teachers’ strike in 2005 prompted Ediger to stop musing about writing a book about her childhood and get to work.
“I started writing at that point, and printing it out and looking at what I’d written. I ended up reading some of it to some of the people that were picketing with me and they were very encouraging.”
Ediger had always enjoyed teaching novel studies and creative writing, but was a neophyte novelist when she put pen to paper that fall.
The book takes place during a five-year period from six to 12 years old when her parents moved to the north end of Hamilton, Ont. to become social workers. She said she struggled quite a bit to write the transition of moving from a tiny town in Oklahoma to living in a big city like Hamilton.
“We couldn’t even hardly see a house from where we lived to moving into an area of Hamilton that was so densely populated with kids everywhere.”
Ediger says the book isn’t about just being Mennonite, but being from another culture and trying to fit into a new community, something to which she thinks everybody can relate.
She remembers well the culture shock of moving and trying to fit in to her new home, but realizing her religion and homemade clothes set her apart from the other children.
“I’ve read several books about Mennonites and there’s so many different perspectives on them, but I just wanted to give my take.”
Ediger’s husband Robert Ross was the director of planning in Mission for 18 years. When her parents died, they decided they wanted to be near Robert’s mother, so they moved to Port Mouton, Nova Scotia.
It was there that she finished her book and found a publisher.