There have been some gracious inquiries by folks who have questioned why Prairie didn’t call the police when purported abuse that occurred forty or fifty years ago was recently made public.

Today, in society at large, police are called at the drop of a hat for even perceived abuse.  It is an appropriate and conditioned response.  Such was not the case when I was growing up in the 1950s.

We lived in a different era back then, an era I have fond recollections of.

Prairie didn’t call on anybody for anything.  It was a fiercely independent gathering of committed evangelicals who followed a mandate to “come out from among them and be ye separate, says the Lord,” and it didn’t just limit that to the length of the women’s skirts.

Prairie took this separation from the world so seriously that they created a sustainable lifestyle that could have possibly withstood Armageddon itself.  Whether a bakery, butcher shop, grocery store, sawmill, carpenter shop, print shop, boiler plants, or night watchmen to stalk the predators, they were self sustainable.

I lived beside that campus for 14 years during the ‘50s and ‘60s, and never once saw a policeman walking his beat or a patrol car slinking silently down an alley at 2:00 a.m.

When they encountered difficulties, they dealt with them, but they dealt with them on their own terms and on their own schedule.

Zero tolerance was a phrase that would not be coined until forty years later, but when it came to the enforcement of social regulations on campus, zero tolerance was demonstrated with the student body.  While I was in the 10th grade a friend of mine was caught in an indiscretion, and within hours he was removed from campus.

Justice was an entirely internal process with no accountability to the outside world, and for the most part it worked, and worked well.

Apparently, however, this same justice was not a two-edged sword.  There were occasions, (two that I am aware of), where indiscretions by the faculty were not treated in the same way as indiscretions by the students.

I commend Mark Maxwell, the current president of the school and grandson of the founder L. E. Maxwell, for now bringing in the RCMP to bring resolution and transparency to the accusations being brought against the school.  This is a good first step that makes sense today.  This is way beyond the ability of the night watchman to resolve.

The next step for the school is to now provide a neutral third party to provide the crucial role of seeking resolution and ultimately closure for the survivors.

Times have changed.  So has the school.  The wheels of justice will now grind without the school being in control of the outcome.  Nor should they be.

I pray that these current travails will enable the school to continue to function transparently, and effectively as it fulfills its mission of “to know Christ and to make Him known.”

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  1. Bob Snyder says:

    I can identify with the “zero tolerance” comment; I can also identify with the “removed from campus in tenth grade” comment! The “indiscretion” was something I’d do in front of my wife today, without making her too angry! (a little annoyed perhaps, but not angry enough for any major problems)

    You are correct: PBI was almost completey self sufficient. In your list above, you didn’t mention the farm, or the dairy. Nor did you mention the garage. Or the “root cellar”, where vegetables were stored. And you are also correct in that no police were needed. That said, the night watchmen surely did contribute to some significant recreation for a few of us that were, um, somewhat more adventurous than others!

    I am greatly saddened by these accusations; but even more so, I am saddened at the clear attempt to bring the school down. Hopefully, something good will come as a result of all this.

    There are many potential victims here – some of them, legitimate.

    It will be interesting for all of us to see what has happened, about one year from now.

    Peter – Keep up the good work!

    • peter says:

      Actually, Bobby, you were not the one I had in mind, but hey, if the shoe fits… Your family left a living legacy on that school. Read just recently of a gentleman who recently retired from 40 years in music administration. He received his doctorate in music because of a comment your Dad made to him when he was in high school.

  2. Leila Bolster says:

    Yes, I remember a fellow MK brother who did not get to graduate with us from high school for spying on the girl’s gym. It was not aberration with the young man, just a boyish prank done on a dare. A married male staff member did it regularly and legally with the excuse to work there on his carpentry while we were having class, watching us girls with his mouth wide open and causing us considerable frustration. That staff member was still on staff when I left the campus 8 years later. It seemed to me that the rules for students were much more stringent than those for the adult faculty. I am refreshed to note that that attitude does not presently prevail.

  3. Jon "PJ" Congo says:

    While my growing up was somewhat ‘apart from’, rather than a part of the ‘campus scene’ of which you describe, I would say your recall is still quite accurate, Peter, and complimented with an appreciated, balanced perspective. Kudos.

  4. Al Hiebert says:

    Among my fond memories of PBI are the joys of playing in the orchestra (a very faulty horn) under Robert Snyder, including events at Calgary’s & Edmonton’s Centennial Concert Halls. His pre-concert prayers were priceless!

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