A Scattering of Seeds: The Creation of Canada
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Subject Profile: Martha Black

Jacob and Rose Penner

When Jacob and Rose Penner arrived in Canada from Russia at the turn of the century, they brought their socialist ideals with them. The family's mixed ethnicity and radical politics combined to alienate their predominately WASP neighbours in North Winnipeg and their children bore the brunt of this bigotry.

Jacob campaigned tirelessly for the rights of working people. He was involved in organizing the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919. In 1933, Jacob was elected as an alderman for North Winnipeg, a position he held for almost 30 years. Interned during World War II for being a member of the then outlawed Communist Party, Jacob never let his dream of creating better conditions for working people slip away. He was returned to political office in 1942 and continued to fight for low cost housing, recreational facilities, and for the federal government to institute an unemployment insurance program.

Like many immigrants, Rose and Jacob Penner came to Canada seeking political freedom and the opportunity to build a better life - but they were committed to improving the lives of all Canadians.

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