Mennonite Links

Ruth Derksen Siemens is a first-generation Russian Mennonite who grew up in Vancouver. She spent many spring and summer months at her grandparents' farm in Yarrow (in the eastern Fraser Valley region of British Columbia). Here she was immersed into the ethnic culture of a replicated Russian settlement. As a pre-teen, she moved with her family from Vancouver to another Mennonite village. Arnold was a retreat into European Mennonite customs, rituals and language.

Music was her first passion and career choice, but a longing to understand language and its rhetorical uses directed her to return to university. Ruth is now an instructor of Rhetoric and Writing at the University of British Columbia, a researcher and historian. Her primary research has been conducted in the field of rhetoric and discourse analysis in an English Department, but her interest in historical documents and their linguistic implications remains dominant. Her PhD in the Philosophy of Language from the University of Sheffield (UK) investigates letters written from the former Soviet Union (1930-38) by Russian Mennonites, many of whom were imprisoned and died in Stalin's Gulag.

Her publications include both refereed and non-refereed articles, anthologies, and books. A one-hour documentary Through the Red Gate, produced by Out To See Entertainment Inc., Vancouver BC, was released in Fall 2007. The first volume of letters, “Remember Us:” Letters from Stalin’s Gulag (1930-37) was launched in December 2007. A subsequent book, Daughters in the City: Mennonite Maids in Vancouver, 1931-61 was launched in June 2013.

Contact Ruth Derksen Siemens