The Icelandic in Íslendingadagurinn

There many parts to the Icelandic Festival and to the Monday parade. Over the years, it has grown from one day to four. Various groups such as the Shriners have become an integral part of the celebrations. However, at the heart of the Festival is the history of the settlement of New Iceland. Gradually, as smaller communities such as Hnausa have, like rural communities all over Canada, closed stores and churches, local schools, the annual celebration of New Iceland´s Icelandic heritage has devolved on Gimli, Manitoba.

At one time, the Icelandic Celebration was held in Winnipeg, then moved to two locations, Hnausa and Gimli, Manitoba. Eventually, the annual celebration at Hnausa ceased.

Now, as Gimli grows more suburban, as housing developments spread to the north, south, and west, as it becomes more of a retirement community and less of a commercial and fishing community, the challenge is to retain the original reason for celebrating with Íslendingadagurinn. The challenge is for us to celebrate our history, our culture, our community while allowing others to share that experience with us but not to make it for them.

There are the flags, of course. They signal to the world our intent, our identity, flown with the Canadian and American flags, they reveal our three way connections among Iceland, Canada and the United States of America.

There is Fjallkona, the symbol of our memory of and historic loyalty to Iceland.

There are the books. Publishing and books have played a enormous part in our history, both in Iceland and in North America. That history and loyalty to the printed word is apparent in the cultural tables in the Gimli park pavilion.

While bookstores were closing all over North America, Lorna Tergesen created a bookstore in the historic Tergesen store. There, she dedicates shelves to Icelandic and Icelandic North American authors.

Jim Anderson, from Poplar Point originally, and from a family deeply involved in literature, buys and sells historic books published in Icelandic as well as books in English about all things Icelandic. Here, he is talking to Tammi Axelsson, the head of The New Iceland Heritage Museum.

Nelson Gerrard, the community historian, and Wanda Anderson, selling Icelandic River Roast coffee (that drink inextricably linked to Icelandic culture), to raise funds for heritage projects in Riverton.\

Photo by Kendra Jónasson

The gathering of colleagues, friends and family, particularly stalwarts such as Garry Oddleifson, member of the board of Logberg-Heimskringla, the Icelandic newspaper headquartered in Winnipeg; Gwen Gratten, Executive Secretary, the Icelandic National League; Linda Sigurdson Collette who organizes and runs Lestrarfélag, a reading club for books connected to Iceland and Icelandic North American culture.

And then there are the projects that are inspired by our past. Johann Straumfjord Sigurdson and David Collette are organizing an expedition that will sail up Lake Winnipeg, into Hudson Bay, from there, explore likely camping spots of the vikings and, finally, make their way to Iceland.

There are the Icelandic visitors.

The mayor of Akureyri the Honourary parade marshall, with his wife Alma Jóhanna Árnadóttir.

Distinguished visitors like Atli Asmundson, the Icelandic Consul General, and Mr. Bjarni Benediktsson, the Chairman of the Independence party.

Photo by Kendra Jónasson

Atli Asmundson and his wife, Þruður, have brought the best of Iceland with them in their years in Winnipeg.

The Akureyri women´s choir, Kvennakór Akureyrar

And, at Amma’s kitchen there is vinarterta.