It is always a great pleasure to present a life membership award and I have the honor, on behalf of the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba, to present a life membership to our new President, Grant Stefanson.

Grant has been involved with Islendingadagurinn for 30+years. As is the case with many of us, we were “drafted” by our family into volunteering for the Festival at a very young age. My first memory of Grant’s involvement centers on the Beach Volleyball event. My recollection tells me that it was largely through Grant’s leadership, and later his cousin Eric’s, that this event has evolved into the great success that it is today. More recently, Grant has taken a much more significant leadership role with the Festival. I believe he joined the Board about 6 or 8 years ago and our organization has benefited greatly by his work on the board.

I have come to know Grant much more over the past few years via the Viking Park Campaign Cabinet. Grant’s leadership, along with his co-chair Kathi Thorarinson-Neal, on this project has been exceptional. Viking Park has been, and will continue to be, a huge project. As is the case with projects of this scope, it requires a strong vision and an equally strong discipline to bring the vision to life. Grant excels in both these areas and it has been a real pleasure to work with him. I look forward to more excitement as we move forward to the next phase of this legacy project.

With many within our membership, we combine our volunteer work with a very busy work/family life. We do so because we share a passion and commitment to our culture, our community, our quality of life and our legacy. Grant’s lovely wife Shannon and children Jilian, Reyna and Natalie have always been his overarching focus. His family commitment is combined with a very busy law practice as a partner with MLT Aikins. His professional affiliations include Life Council Member of the MB Bar Association; past Chair of the Civil Litigation Section of the MB Bar Assoc; past president of the Mb Law Students Association and member of the Law Society of Manitoba.

His volunteer work goes well beyond the IFM. He is president of the Fort Whyte PC Association, Former Board member of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, former honorary Counsel of the Western Canadian Pictorial Index, former Board member of the Manitoba Law Federation and a volunteer with the Manitoba Heart and Stroke Foundation – an organization that is dear to Grant’s family. He also served as President of the Logberg Heimskringla for several years.

Looking around the room, I see members of several families who have shown a multi-generational commitment to the IFM. Grant’s family is no exception. His Afi, Eric senior served 2 terms as President 1957/58 and 1966/67. Very rare for an individual to serve two terms as President but it did happen on occasion back in the day. In speaking with Grant’s uncle Eric yesterday, we think the second term, which coincided with Canada’s centennial, may have been due to Eric Sr. being a MP for our riding. Grant’s father Dennis was President in 1973/74 and Grant’s Amma Sigrun was Fjalkona in 1959. I must also add that Grant’s Uncle Kris demonstrated a tireless commitment to our Festival and I know that mentorship played a big part to where Grant finds himself today.

I mention this as an example of how strong the family connection is to our Festival. Many of us follow 3 generations of service and that is the case here. Our festival focuses on family. That remains our mission. We continue to deliver on this mandate through generations of service. Grant, with our sincere thanks and congratulations, we present you with a Life Membership into the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba.