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i              r ISM
KAl             /EGI 1
15.             [AVIK IC3LANÐ
President of Iceland visits Canada
The President of Iceland, Mme.
Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, will arrive in
St. John's, Newfoundland, on Satur-
day, the 29th of July, according to
Neil Bardal, President of the Icelan-
dic National League. The main priori-
ty of her visit is to meet with people
of Icelandic descent throughout
Mr. Bardal, who is the general
coordinator of the President's visit,
said that preparations began last Au-
gust, when it became known that she
would chair Vancouver's internation-
al conference, "Tourism: a vital force
for peace", that October. The Icelan-
dic community in B.C. became in-
volved, and the INL issued her an in-
vitation to visit other Icelandic com-
munities in 1989. The President
accepted, and extensive planning be-
tween the President's office and the
INL later resulted in the Canadian
government's invitation for an offi-
cial state visit.
This will not be the first Icelandic
Presidential state visit to Canada. Ás-
geir Ásgeirsson came here in 1961
and 1967, and Kristján Eldjárn in
1975. Neil says, however, that Vigdís
Finnbogadóttir's visit will differ from
those previous. "This is a very sub-
stantial nine-day visit, and from
Toronto westward the President will
be hosted by Icelandic communities.
Individual members have been desig-
nated to be spokesmen for their com-
munities, and they are working close-
ly with the Canadian government. In
Toronto, Tom Einarson is the desig-
nated spokesman, Dennis Eyolfson
in Alberta, Eric Stephanson in
Saskatchewan, Sigurlin Roed in Win-
nipeg, Dilla Narfason in Gimli, Lor-
na Tergesen for the íslendin-
gadagurinn, Jack Bjornson in Selkirk,
and Gudrun Gislason in Arborg. All
of the communities in Manitoba's In-
terlake area, other than Selkirk and
Gimli, will be cooperating in the Ar-
borg reception. Kirsten Wolf will host
the President at the University of
Manitoba, and all government events
will, of course, be handled by the
government," said Neil.
Neil feels that the President's visit
Vigdís Finnbogadóttir President of Iceland
will create better awareness of
Western Icelanders' own culturai
roots, and general stronger cultural
ties between the two countries,
resulting in higher visibility of
Iceland on the part of Canadians, and
awareness in Iceland of Canada as a
possible place to visit and as a trad-
ing partner.
In St. John's and in Halifax, the
President will attend exhibitions of
Icelandic products, organized by the
Export Council of Iceland. Neil says
that the exhibitions will likely stimu-
late trade between Canada and
Iceland. "There is potential for much
greater trade between the two coun-
tries. On my trip to Iceland early this
year, I met with Icelandic business-
men who were on their way to the
States in search of potential markets.
When I asked whether they had also
considered visiting Canada, they said
that it had never occurred to them.
"The Icelandic community is no
longer a ghetto community.
Icelanders are integrated into Cana-
dian society at large. In every field,
they have risen in stature and now
hold senior positions. This is because
of a certain inherited outlook, passed
down from generation to genera-
tion," says Neil. "What is needed is
a mutual exposure to modern reality.
Western Icelanders have to become
aware of Icelandic culture as it exists
today, and Icelanders of the potential
here in Canada. Since there are
Icelanders in prominent positions in
most fields here, we can cross-
connect at that level, whether it be
in trade, cultural exchange or in other
The President will attend many
events in Manitoba. On the evening
of her arrival, August 3, the President
will be honored at a reception in
Government House.
August 4 the President will visit the
Icelandic Collection at the Universi-
ty of Manitoba where she will also
receive an honorary degree. Other
events for the day include a visit to
the Winnipeg Art Gallery to open the
Icelandic Saga Manuscript exhibi-
tion, to Betelstadur (a seniors apart-
ment complex) and receptions at
Winnipeg City Hall and the Legisla-
tive Building where she will lay a
wreath at the Jón Sigurðsson statue.
That evening she will attend a spe-
cial service at First Lutheran
Church (580 Victor Street). A
visit to the Marine Museum in
Selkirk, a tour of Lower Fort Garry,
unveiling a cairn at Geysir and.a
reception by the regional Icelandic
Community in Arborg will take place
August 5. From Arborg the President
will travel to Hecla Island where she
will spend the evening before begin-
ning two full days of activity at the
Icelandic Festival, "íslendingada-
gurinn," in Gimli. The festival is ob-
serving its centennial in 1989.
Whiie in Gimli August 6, she will
be made an honorary citizen of the
townP visit Betel Home and attend a
reception given by the Icelandic Na-
tional League (Gimli Chapter). She
will also visit a number of local sites
of interest including the White Rock
on Willow Island which marks the
landing site of the first Icelandic set-
tlers in 1875. In the evening, the
Government of Manitoba will host a
reception and dinner at the Gull Har-
bour Resort on Hecla Island.
On August 7, she will take part in
the Centennial Parade in Gimli, tour
the Gimli Museum and participate in
the official opening ceremony for "ís-
lendingaduragurinn" and a special
tree-planting event in Gimli Park.
That evening President Vigdís will
return to Winnipeg and leave
Manitoba the following morning.
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