Lögberg-Heimskringla - 04.02.2000, Blaðsíða 2

Lögberg-Heimskringla - 04.02.2000, Blaðsíða 2
2 » Lögberg-Heimskringla « Millennium Edition » Friday 4 February 2000 Trade agreement to be concluded shortly Jean Chrétien Prime Minister of Canada Ottawa, ON | A N A D A ’ S TIES tO 'Iceland go back further than with any other European neighbour. While Canada has been touched by Iceland in many ways, two important his- torical events stand out. The first was Leif Eiriksson’s visit to L’Anse Aux Meadows on the northem tip of Newfoundland one thousand years ago. There, the Vikings established the first European outpost in North America, five hundred years before Columbus crossed the Atlantic. The second, and more lasting, event was the establishment of the vibrant Icelandic community 125 years ago on the shores of Lake Winnipeg. I am proud to have been able, as Prime Minister, to play a small part in preserving this noble history through funding for the Icelandic Museum in Gimli. Iceland and Canada have much in common. As liberal and inclusive soci- eties, we gained independence in a peace- ful and democratic way. We both built thriving communities in a harsh northern climate. Today, our stable and peaceful ways of life oífer a standard of living that is the envy of many countries around the world. When I visited Iceland in 1994, I Many events celebrating the connection with Iceland will be taking place across Canada , such as the traditional “Walk to the Rock’’ in Gimli, seen above. Phow: Jóm Einars. Gustafsson witnessed, at first hand, its natural beauty and the comfortable lifestyle created by Icelanders in the north Atlantic. We are both prosperous nations which depend on trade. I am glad to say that Canada and Iceland are actively working to increase the trade links between us. The process of negotiating a trade agreement between Canada and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), that I helped launch myself in September 1997, will be concluded short- ly. And so the new millennium will begin with a free trade agreement that will ben- efit the citizens of both Canada and Iceland. Combined with scheduled flights between Canada and Reykjavík, which began in 1996, trade and cultural exchanges between our two nations will only increase. Iceland is an important partner for Canada on the international stage as well. Our shared concern for human develop- ment has brought about a high level of cooperation in international organizations around the world. We are also both com- mitted to protecting the north through organizations like the Arctic Council. All in all, Canada and Iceland have a great deal in common. During this mil- lennium year, Canadians will have the opportunity to learn more about our his- torical, cultural, and religious ties with Iceland at celebrations from Newfoundland to British Columbia. As we mark this special year, I want to give my best wishes to Icelanders and Canadians and oflfer my hopes of ever closer ties in the future. The largest community outside Iceland Interview with Davíð Oddsson Prime Minister of lceland Reykjavík, Iceland WHAT ARE the most impor- tant aspects of Iceland-Canada relations today? Good relations between Iceland and Canada are important in many respects, since we are neighbours and allies in NATO. The main issues in our relations today involve free trade, fisheries, and the environment. There is scope for even greater trade between our countries, and for stepping up air communications. The Iceiandic government plans to open an embassy in Canada in the near future which will hopefully increase contact between us still further. Why is Iceland staging numerous events in Canada in the year 2000? The year 2000 marks the millennium of the voyages when Icelandic explorers became the first Europeans to set foot in North America. It is also the 125th anniversary of the arrival of Icelandic set- tlers on the shores of Lake Winnipeg. This year we will be establishing an Icelandic presence for the third time, with more than one hundred events all over Canada. Iceland and Canada share a cultural heritage. Apart from Iceland itself, there is no other country with more people of Icelandic descent than Canada. In recent years there has been a surge of interest in the history of the Icelandic emigrants to North America, partly as a result of new books and films. People have been impressed by the energy and determina- tion that the settlers showed at that time. What should be the lasting effect of the millennium celebrations in terms of the reiationship between Iceland and Canada? The most important effect will be to make as many Canadians as possible well informed about Iceland, its culture and history, and interested in doing business with us. It is also important for us in Iceland to strengthen our links with the descendants of the people who emigrated from Iceland towards the end of the nine- teenth century and settled in North America. They have an Icelandic back- ground and heritage that we would very much like them to feel proud of. Why has the Prime Minister been instrumental in supporting the major contribution—one million Canadian dollars from Eimskip shipping compa- ny and the Government of Iceland—to the Icelandic Department at the University of Manitoba? Manitoba is the scene of an important aspect of Icelandic culture. It is the para- mount example of how an Icelandic cul- tural community can evolve alongside others. Manitoba is also home to the largest community of people of Icelandic descent outside Iceland itself. Thus the decision to make a contribution to the Icelandic department and library was an integral part of Iceland’s own cultural policy. The library contains many rare books that our fellow Icelanders took with them to Canada when they emigrat- ed. Although they had little in the way of worldly wealth and possessions, they had a great treasure in the form of these books in their native language. These pioneers replanted Iceland’s literary heritage in their new homes, and the University of Manitoba library is a monument to that. For more information, visit our website: www.iceiand2000.org



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