August 21, 1921 – December 15, 2019
Edwin Kornelius Brandt, born August 21, 1921 in Altona, Manitoba, passed away peacefully on December 15 at the Polson Care Centre in Vernon, where he had resided since June 2019, with his wife Anne (nee Thiessen) of 55 years at his side. He had been dealing with prostate cancer for six years and had also developed heart block and some cerebrovascular disease. He was predeceased by his first wife Margaret (nee Enns) in 1963 and youngest son Steven in 2014. He is survived by 6 children and their partners: with his first wife – Lorne (Anne), of Richmond, BC, Loretta Kroeker (David, deceased 2015), of Tofield, AB, Leslie, Winnipeg, Lloyd (Patti), Tofield, AB and Tim (Dianne), Winnipeg, and with his second wife – Steven (deceased) and AnnaMarie Hope-Rapp (Eric), Sheffield, NB, as well as 15 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren.
Edwin grew up largely in Saskatchewan, the second eldest of eleven siblings, during the depression, where his father, an immigrant from Russia (now the Ukraine) was a rural school teacher. As a young man, he went to Herbert and then Prairie Bible Schools in Saskatchewan and Alberta, respectively, and was baptized into the Christian faith by the president of the last, L.E. Maxwell, when he graduated. During World War II, as a Mennonite Conscientious Objector, he chose Alternative Service and taught in a United Church Indian Day school in Island Lake (now Garden Hill) in Northern Manitoba.
That was the beginning of a 25-year career working in missions with Canada’s indigenous peoples, beginning with the United Church (2 years in Oxford House, MB), Northern Canada Evangelical Mission (9 years in Buffalo Narrows, SK and Grand Rapids, MB) and Mennonite Pioneer Mission, later Native Ministries of the Conference of Mennonites in Canada (5 years in Loon Straits, MB, and 5 in Winnipeg, MB).
He began his time in Winnipeg with a year at Canadian Mennonite Bible College, now Canadian Mennonite University, and making connections with indigenous people moving into the city, which led to the formation of Youth Opportunities Unlimited, a Notre Dame Ave. storefront agency providing a meeting place for learning skills to help with finding housing, jobs and furthering education.
This was followed by pastoring in Meadow Lake, SK, Bible school teaching at Swift Current Bible Institute in Saskatchewan and Okanagan Bible Institute in British Columbia, as well as a 3 yr period of service for the General Conference of Mennonites Commission on Home Missions among the Mennonites in Mexico. He returned to found the Vernon Mennonite Church in 1980 and was most recently a member of Faith Baptist Church in Vernon.
Throughout his ministry, he was always eager to take photographs and share his experiences; his extensive body of photos leave a huge legacy and many are donated to the Mennonite Archives. He also left behind diaries and writings of his life and his work among indigenous people.
Dad enjoyed sports and boating in his younger years, relaxing in timeshares around the continent and going on a number of cruises as he grew older. It was always his joy to share his travels and make albums of his trips and share pictures in hand-made greeting cards which he mailed to all his descendants. In his later years he bowled with Vernon seniors and then settled into table games with friends and family.
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