Since their birth in the 16th century as a branch of Christianity, the Mennonites have faced persecution and suppression. Indeed, for nearly three centuries, they have been in near constant movement. ­During the World Wars, their bitter fate reached its climax. Originally, a Germanic community, the group reached Ukraine, only to be shipped off to Siberia.

During the economic crisis after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, 100,000 Mennonites immigrated back to Germany. Soon, over a hundred of their Brethren churches were founded, with about 30,000 members. At the same time, Canada also became a new destination for Mennonites looking for yet another home.

But across this vast diaspora, the Mennonites remain strongly bound. They are connected by their faith, their culture, and their Low German dialect.

The question about the individuality of my faithful ­bro­thers and sisters led me to families in Russia, Germany, and Canada. Curiosity about their thoughts, wishes, dreams, and fears increased my desire to portray them in their daily life and let them tell their stories through interviews.

—Mika Sperling