Wanda Josephson Anderson 2018 Fjallkona
Wanda Josephson Anderson is a third generation Icelandic Canadian born and raised in Gimli. She is the daughter of Walter Josephson and Margaret Isfjord and the sister of Linda, Carol, Cindy, Mona and Steven. The granddaughter of Oli and Rosa Josephson (nee Thompson) Sigmundur and Margaret Josephson and Norman and Katie Isfjord (nee Slywka).
After graduating from Gimli Composite High School in 1977 Wanda was employed in the Treasury Department at Manitoba Hydro in Winnipeg, and the Evergreen School Division in Gimli. In 1981 she married Tim Anderson and they currently reside at Skallastaður, their family farm west of Riverton where they have made their home and worked as farm partners for the last 38 years. Tim and Wanda are the very proud parents of two son’s, Brett and Drew.
Wanda has a tremendous passion for her Icelandic Culture and Heritage, which was influenced by her dearest friend, Helga Guðmundsdóttir. Helga was an exchange student in Gimli in 1975. Her first visit to Iceland was in 1979 and since that time she and Helga have been hosting each other’s family and friends in their respective homes.
During the last 40 years Wanda has travelled to Iceland many times researching her family genealogy. Wanda states “It’s hard to explain the feeling you get when you walk up to your family homesteads knowing your great grandparents left from the very spot you are standing on."
Wanda is certain that this exchange of family and friends was the incentive for her involvement and leadership with the Snorri West Program; which introduced 60 young Icelanders to the Province of Manitoba between the years 2001 and 2010. The Snorri West motto was “Strengthening Ties Between Canada and Iceland”. Today the Program has grown to “Strengthening Ties Between North America and Iceland”. Wanda is extremely proud to have been one of the founding members who developed the Snorri West Program into what it is today.
In 2006 Wanda was asked to be a member of the Icelandic River Heritage Sites, a group of volunteers dedicated to preserving and promoting the culture and heritage of the Icelandic River district, which she continues to this day.
Wanda’s attendants will be her nieces, Stephanie Johnson and Willow Josephson.
Congratulations to Wanda, our 95th Islendingadagurinn Fjallkona!
It is with great honor I bring you greetings as the 95th Fjallkona, in the symbolic role of “Mother Iceland”, as we gather in Gimli today at the 129th Íslendingadagurinn. It gives me great pleasure to welcome all our visitors, especially our family and friends. To our frændur og frænkur and close friends from Iceland, let’s continue to keep our connections strong. Velkomin til Gimli og Nyja Ísland.
Íslendingadagurinn is one of the oldest running and most successful ethnic festivals in North America. I would like to commend the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba committee and all the volunteers for their hard work and dedication. Because of you we are able to gather here in Gimli every year to celebrate our culture and heritage. On this celebration weekend we rekindle friendships, celebrate family reunions, share memories of the past, and most importantly, we “gather as family” which is the 2018 Íslendingadagurinn theme. I can’t think of a better way to describe this annual celebration. I would like to read a quote taken from a letter dated August 3rd, 1919, written by my great Amma, Arnbjörg Jónsdóttir, to her sister Elín in Iceland. She writes:
“Yesterday was the Íslendingadagurinn at Gimli and we all went there in an automobile, which belongs to my sons. It is a nice way to travel, but it is rather expensive.”
Celebrating Íslendingadagurinn, and gathering as family, has been a part of my families’ heritage for over 100 years.
As a child, Íslendingadagurinn fell into the same category as the first day of school and Christmas. My siblings and I waited all summer for the “Celebration”. My mother made certain we were dressed in our finest clothes to watch the parade. Once the parade was over our family sat down to a traditional lunch which always included coffee, rúllupylsa on brown bread, smoked fish, and of course, pönnukökur and vínarterta.
My mother and father have since passed, but my sisters and brother, along with our children, remain true to this tradition. After lunch it was off to the park to participate in the races. This was a time to meet with family and friends and enjoy picnic lunches under the tall spruce trees in the park. Of course, at 2:00 p.m. we were all focused on the traditional program. Monday night was for the adults, as they danced the night away to “Johnny And His Musical Mates” at the Old Timers Dance in the pavilion. These memories of Íslendingadagurinn have a special place in my heart.
Everyone here today has his or her special memories of Íslendingadagurinn.
It is up to us to make sure the next generation is making memories of their own from the customs and traditions passed on by our parents and grandparents.
In 1875 our ancestors landed upon these shores on Lake Winnipeg. They came to this country with the hope of a better life for their families, while preserving their language, culture and traditions, and above all, maintaining ties with their homeland.
Their determination to succeed was evident by the building of schools, churches and publishing a newspaper within the first few years of settlement.
143 years later, I believe we are achieving the dreams of our forefathers.
Groups such as The Icelandic National League of North America (INLNA), individual chapters of the INL, the Icelandic River Heritage Sites and the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba are working hard to preserve and promote the culture and heritage of the people of Icelandic descent in Manitoba. Now, we must make sure that our youth will carry on this legacy.
The success of the Icelandic Language and Cultural Camp in Gimli is testimony to this.
The Snorri, Snorri West and Snorri Plus programs, to which I have a close personal interest, continue to ensure the ties between North America and Iceland are strong.
With Icelandic language classes taught in so many communities, we are making an effort to keep the Icelandic language here in Manitoba alive. I admire all the dedicated teachers and students. Stephanie and Willow, you represent the future ties between our two unique countries. I’m certain that you and your generation will carry on the legacy gifted to you by your ancestors.
As we gather as family this weekend, let us take the time to remember our pioneer families and family members who are no longer with us.
On behalf of my family, and myself, I wish you all a wonderful and memorable Íslendingadagurinn.