Thank you for joining us and Discovering Your Land as we fête 128 years of Islendingadagurinn and 85 years in the RM of Gimli. This year’s theme bridges with our nation’s year-long celebration of the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation and is a call for all of us to discover our roots.As many of you are already aware, Icelandic settlers are spread out across our great land – from the original Viking settlement at L’anse aux Meadows to the western coasts of Vancouver Island. Our Icelandic history is interwoven with Canada’s from the time then 22-year-old Sigtryggur Jonasson arrived in Quebec City on September 12, 1872 to find new lands for his countryman. Great poets such as Stephán G. Stephansson and Guttormur J. Guttormsson; arctic explorer and anthropologist Vilhjalmur Stefansson; and novelists including the late Governor General Award-winner Laura Goodman Salverson, William Valgardson, David Arnason and Betty Jane Wylie just to name a few, are celebrated in both Canada and Iceland..
Settlers were welcomed by many of our First
Nations, such as the Ramsay family who ensured many Icelanders not only survived but thrived throughout our harsh winters, despite untold personal loss.
Our houses of government also recognized and embraced Icelanders. Sigtryggur Jonasson was first elected in the Manitoba Legislature in 1898. Margaret J. Benedictson, formed the first women's suffrage society in Winnipeg in 1908 that helped secure women the vote over 100 years ago. Two Manitobans of Icelandic descent – the Honourable George Johnson O.C., M.D., and Honourable John Harvard P.C., O.M – have held the province's highest office of lieutenant governor. We can lay claim to astronauts, world-class scientists, world-renowned musicians, and the first Olympic gold medal in hockey!
This weekend we also discover the new Viking Park – part of the 125 Legacy project originated in 2014 under the leadership of campaign cabinet co-chairs Kathi Thorarinson-Neal and Grant Stefanson. Islendingadagurinn is proud to offer this legacy project to the RM of Gimli and the people of Manitoba.
We encourage you to take some time this weekend and find your pathway stone – or if you haven’t already done so, join us by leaving your mark in the park by adding your own stone.
Thank you for making the Islendingadagurinn festival part of your summer. I truly hope you enjoy your time discovering your land!
Icelandic Festival of Manitoba President, 2016-2017