Lögberg-Heimskringla - 20.08.1999, Blaðsíða 3

Lögberg-Heimskringla - 20.08.1999, Blaðsíða 3
Lögberg-Heimskringla • Föstudagur 20. ágúst 1999 • 3 President Grímsson 's visit to Canada was modified to include a briefstop in Winnipeg. Above, he and his daughter Dalla were received at the home oflcelandic Consul Svavar Gestsson and met with local government leaders and dignitaries. phoio: j<m Emars. Gusiafsson President Grímsson visits Canada Joan Eyolfson Cadham Vatnabyggd, SK 44 I "ALREADY feel that we are here at home with you and I am sure .we will have a splendid day together," Icelandic President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson told the surprisingly large crowd who had gathered at the Community Hall on July 29 for a week- day two-hour luncheon with the first head of state of a foreign country to visit Foam Lake. The last time an Icelandic President toured the Vatnabyggd area (roughly from Dafoe to east of Foam Lake), was on Sept. 16, 1961, when President and Mrs. Ásgeir Ásgeirsson were driven to Wynyard for a three-hour visit. In 1989, then-President Vigdís Finnbogadóttir paid a brief visit to Regina and members of the local Icelandic Club bussed to the city for a reception. "I can assure you it will not be thir- ty years before the President of Iceland comes here again because there is in my country a clear desire to cultivate and enhance the ties with you and your fam- ilies, the descendants of the Icelandic settlers here one hundred years ago," President Grímsson said at the wind-up dinner in Wynyard. "We in Iceland see the settlement in Canada not only as a part of Canadian history but also our own history because in those decades one hundred years ago, Iceland was struggling to become an independent nation," the President said during his stop at the memorial to Icelandic pioneers in Elfros. "People who settled here continued to be involved in many ways, contributing to Icelandic society and contributing to Icelandic culture, so I come here on a pilgrimage journey to bring you the heartfelt thanks of my people and to promise you that there is now in Iceland a very strong determination to enhance our relationship and to extend it in the new century and to bring the Icelandic community, wherever you live and what- ever you might be, together." President Grímsson spent a day in the Vatnabyggd area, with stops in Elfros, Foam Lake, Bob Eyolfson's farm, Wynyard, and Kandahar. He was accompanied by his daughter, Dalla, by Consul General, Svavar Gestsson and his wife, Guðrún Ágústsdóttir, by the Honorary Consul of Iceland in Saskatchewan, Jón Örn Jónsson, and by his Secretary General and his Special Assistant, Robert Trausti Arnason and Örnólfur Thorsson. The visit also attract- ed the attention of CBC radio, GX94 and one other commercial radio station and a CTV team of cameraman and reporter. The visit was arranged by Jón Örn Jónsson and organized by , the Vatnabyggd Icelandic Club under the guidance of provincial and federal proto- col officers and security. The President made three stops in Canada—in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba—on his way to August 2 celebrations in Mountain, ND. The province of Saskatchewan hosted meetings and din- ner at Government House in Regina on July 28 and provided two aircraft for the trip to and from Wynyard (International) airport as well as cars and drivers for the official party and Vatnabyggd Club member escorts. The first stop, at the Icelandic monu- ment in Elfros, clearly set the tone for the visit, said Vatnabyggd Club execu- tive members. In each of his speeches, the President described how moved he was by the statue which depicts a young Icelandic couple in period costume. She is seated, knitting. He is standing, read- ing to her. "The Icelandic settlers who came here brought themselves and their chil- dren but they also brought their books and their books were their most precious possessions," he said. "In the hard Canadian winters they were able to read the Icelandic books that gave them the spirit, the courage and the endurance to survive." The President described the pioneer memorial as "the statue of the reading sessions." He also commended Club members for "having the names of the settlers put here for everyone to see." The names of the pioneers are listed on an information board with a map of the area and a brief history of the early Icelanders. During the stop at Elfros, members of the official party greeted about two hundred people who had come from across Saskatchewan for the event, and the President asked people to point out their family names to him. The President was curious about the naming of Elfros. He suggested that it was quite common in poetic language to call a river "Elfur." Therefore, he said, the word "Elfros" could mean "a town (or area) with a river and roses." Elfros R.M. Reeve Evans Thordarson presented the President Please see President onpage 8 nnn .Mr- rnrrtk hmi dhh w nm wi wi ww mn n *\m nrn ni \k wi \yy\ *km



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