The Icelandic Festival of Manitoba, Íslendingadagurinn, was held in the town of Gimli in Canada on 31 July and 1 August. Minister for Foreign Affairs, Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir, was a guest of honor and representative of the Icelandic Government at the event. She furthermore attended the Deuce of August, an Icelandic festival in Mountain, North-Dakota in the United States. Both celebrations are the largest Icelandic events held in Canada and the United States respectively.
“The Icelandic diaspora’s preservation of their Icelandic heritage is admirable. I would wish for every Icelander to experience the warmth and friendliness which the communities here share towards Iceland,” said Þórdís Kolbrún.
The Foreign Minister delivered a celebratory speech at the Icelandic Festival in Mountain as well as at the festival in Gimli. In both speeches she expressed her appreciation of the common traditions and deep ties which continue to connect Iceland and the Icelandic diaspora in North America.
Approximately sixty thousand people attended the Icelandic festival in the town of Gimli, with visitors arriving from various states in Canada and the United States, such as from North-Dakota and Minnesota, where large communities of Icelandic descent live.
As part of the celebrations, the Foreign Minister also visited a number of sites that are of historical significance to the Icelandic diaspora and to Iceland. Amongst those were the Víkur Church in Mountain, the oldest Icelandic Church in North America, as well as the New Iceland Heritage Museum, the Viking Park, and the monument of Sigtryggur Jónasson in Gimli. Sigtryggur Jónasson was the first Icelandic native who settled in Canada, and he became known as the “Father of New Iceland” for paving the way for Icelandic settlement in North America. Þórdís Kolbrún moreover visited the University of Manitoba where she received an introduction of collections of Icelandic books and letters.
During her trip to North America, the Foreign Minister also visited the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto which leads the cultural project Nordic Bridges. This international project focuses on the promotion of Nordic art and culture in Canada and the fostering of cultural exchange between the country and the Nordic Region. Þórdís Kolbrún furthermore visited the Head Quarters of the Canadian Air Division in Winnipeg and attended a bilateral meeting with Heather Stefanson, the Premier of Manitoba.
Hlynur Guðjónsson, Iceland’s Ambassador to Canada, Vilhjálmur Wiium, Iceland’s Consul General in Winnipeg, and Davíð Logi Sigurðsson, Minister Counsellor at the Embassy of Iceland in Washington, D.C., also represented Iceland at the celebrations.