More than thirty Mennonite pilgrims were injured this past week as they gathered for the annual pilgrimage to the spot on the Red River where their ancestors first landed in the 1870s. The spot, near modern day Niverville, is known as ‘Mennonite Landing’ and is treasured as much for its prime fishing as it is for its historic importance to Russian Mennonite refugees.
“We had pilgrims, preachers, historians and fishermen,” explained horrified witness Agnes Plett. “It was a huddled mass of Mennonites all crammed in among the trees clamouring for a spot near the commemorative cairn.”
Some Mennonites believe that if they touch the commemorative cairn it can bring healing and prosperity.
“The problem is there’s only so much cairn to go around,” said Plett. “I really wish people would distribute their visits more evenly throughout the year.”
Despite the injuries, which sent dozens of Mennonites to the hospital, many pilgrims still believe in the power of the cairn.
“I was trampled trying to touch the sacred cairn, but thanks to the cairn’s healing power I am alive today,” said survivor Art Neufeld of New Bothwell.
Local fisherman also believe that touching the cairn brings good luck and extra-large catfish.