Lögberg-Heimskringla - 04.02.2000, Blaðsíða 3

Lögberg-Heimskringla - 04.02.2000, Blaðsíða 3
Lögberg-Heimskringla • Millennium Edition • Friday 4 February 2000 • 3 Our intention is to open an embassy in 2001 —says Halldór Asgrímsson Groundwork laid for trade growth Interview with Halldór Ásgrímsson Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of lceland Reykjavík, Iceland WHAT IS most important in Iceland/Canada relations in the year 2000? At the beginning of the new millen- nium the Icelandic Foreign Ministry has set a course to emphasize culture and trade, along with the traditional diplomat- ic relations which have been excellent for a long time. We have opened an Icelandic Consulate in Winnipeg. At the Consulate, numerous celebrations to honour the his- toric ties between the countries have been organized in cooperatión with Canadian organizations and the Leifur Eiriksson Millennium Commission of Iceland.'The program is ready and it is difficult to sin- gle out the most important event. I would though like to mention the sailing of a viking ship, from Iceland of course— tracing the route of our forefathers who first stepped ashore in Canada in the year 1000. However, what is most important, of course, is that we are laying the foun- dation for enduring and richer relations in many fields, both with people of Icelandic decent and the Canadian nation as a whole. Emöke J.E. Száthmary President óf the University of Manitoba The meaning of the University of Manitoba’s Depaitment of Icelandic and its Icelandic Collection is multi-lay- ered and complex. Certainly they reflect the yearning of Canadians of Icelandic descent to have a place where their lan- guage and literature is spoken, taught, preserved and respected. To those who first heard their mother’s voice in the cadence of Icelandic language and whose deepest feelings may surface on hearing Icelandic melodies, our library collection and courses in Icelandic language and lit- erature are precious. However, it is worth knowing that Canadians of other ethnic backgrounds also find enormous value in our Icelandic focus. These Canadians are attracted by Icelandic sagas, and what they say about the first Europeans in North America. Others are drawn here because they have read the poems, stories and novels of Icelandic-Canadians. This is particularly true for students and schol- ars from Iceland who want to explore Icelandic-Canadian thought and its writ- ten expression over the past 125 years. Such material shows Iceland’s legacy in Why does Iceland have a special I interest in Canada in the year 2000? The year 2000 marks a major mile- stone in relations between Canada and j Iceland—namely one thousand years i from the airival of the first Icelanders to j the shores of Canada, and 125 years from | settlement in Manitoba. Besides the cele- j brations, we would like to facilitate the j finalization of the EFTA/Canada contract, j and we aim to open an embassy in j Canada. That is not an isolated decision, j but rather part of the whole foreign poli- i cy. We would like to open more avenues to North America. Trade between our countries is steadily increasing. What do you hope to achieve in Iceland/Canada relations after the year 2000? Many things will be achieved. The Icelandic govemment’s participation in cultural projects in Manitoba is at the top of the list, as well as the fact that we are perhaps first now expressing our appreci- ation to the generations of people of Icelandic descent who have kept Iceland in their hearts and prayers for 125 years. This friendship is important to us and we would like it to continue to grow and flourish. When will the Icelandic Embassy in Canada be opened? At a meeting last summer with Canada’s Foreign Minister, Lloyd Axworthy, I announced our intention to open an embassy in the year 2001. another cultural idiom, as well as a differ- ent language and demonstrates the power of Icelandic in the creation of a vigorous Canadian regional literature. The gift frorn the Govemment of lceland, Eimskip, and from the University of Iceland’s Eimskip University Fund also has meaning to the University of Manitoba. The most practi- cal meaning is that the gift will allow the Icelandic Collection to grow, as it will permit renovation of our facilities to pre- serve fragile texts and rare materials bet- ter than is currently possible. The cre- ation of an Icelandic Reading Room will encourage greater use of the Collection by visiting scholars, students and the broader community. Infusion of endowed funds into the Department of Icelandic will secure a second professional position in the unit, which will have a very posi- tive impact on promoting learning and scholarship in Icelandic. The gift from Iceland provides the assurance that the Icelandic heritage will be preserved and cherished at the University of Manitoba, and we shall continue to inform future generations about the multi-faceted impact of the Icelandic presence in North America. Lloyd Axworthy Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs IT IS UNLIKELY that .when Leifur Eiriksson landed on the north- ern tip of Newfoundland that he imagined a vibrant viking community springing up more than two thousand kilometres to the west on the shores of Lake Winnipeg 875 years later. I am certain that he would be proud of the contributions the Icelandic comrnu- nity in Manitoba have made to the rich cultural make-up of their newfound coun- try, Canada. No more proud, though, than Canadians from all over our great coun- try. As a Canadian and a Manitoban, I am delighted to celebrate the thousand-year- long viking history in North America. I was pleased, when in Reykjavík last sum- mer, to board the replica of Leifur Eiriksson’s ship, the Islendingur, and will certainly celebrate when it leads a flotilla that will be greeted with great honours in L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland on July 28, 2000. It is indeed in Manitoba, and espe- cially in Gimli, that the Icelandic commu- nity has established and has thrived for 125 years. It has helped to open up the rugged Canadian west and has spread throughout Canada to as far away as the Pacific Ocean. The threshold of the new millennium brings with it new initiatives that will enhance relations between Canada and Iceland even more. Let me salute important contributions to our eth- nic heritage by the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg and the Stefansson The Government of Iceland and Eimskip, the Icelandic Steamship Company, are donating one million Canadian dollars to the Icelandic Department and the Icelandic Collection at the University of Manitoba. This gert erous contribution will be presented by Iceland’s Minister of Education, Mr. Bjom Bjarnason, in Febmary 2000. The reason for Iceland’s gift is sim- ple; Canada is the home of the largest number of Icelanders, outside Iceland, and the Icelandic Collection is the second largest collection of Icelandic books out- side Iceland. “This, now close to 27,000 volume collection, is the largest collection of Icelandic materials in Canada. The great- est strength, however, and that for which the Collection is intemationally recog- nized are its nearly exhaustive holdings of Icelandic Canadiana,” says Sigrid Johnson, head of the Icelandic Collection. Institute in Akureyri. Our relationship will grow stronger as our two countries stand poised to enter into a free trade agreement that will enhance trade and investmenl relations for the future. The Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement, which is expected to be signed later this year, will ensure easi- er access for Canadian and Icelandic business and businesspeople into our two nations. Combined with regular Icelandair service between Iceland and Canada, the groundwork has been laid to see trade between us grow for future gen- erations. Icelanders and Canadians are north- ern peoples and are natural partners to stand as guardians of a sustainable devel- opment in the north. As active partners in the Arctic Council, we share the goal of ensuring that the arctic environment is preserved for our children. Our common interests have allowed us to act together to develop solutions for much of the problems that threaten the north such as global warming, protecting fish stocks, and energy conservation in the cold northern climate. We also are prepared to work together to find ways to best take advantage of ópportunities offered by the untouched north such as eco-tourism. Canada and Iceland have a partner- ship that started one thousand years ago. The millennium celebration events that will take place in Canada and Iceland this year will highlight our deep ties. I wish to express my congratulations to many peo- ple who, over the years, have helped to build these relations. “This most generous gift of one mil- lion dollars from Iceland means that, after 64 years, the collection will finally be housed in a space appropriate for a col- lection of this nature.” The Collection will be re-located within the Elizabeth Dafoe Library to a completely renovated space, twice the size of the present location, where ade- quate provision has been made for envi- ronmental controls, temperature, humidi- ty, lighting and storage facilities. Library patrons will be able to conduct their research in a “state of the art” reading room where, among other things, ade- quate provision has been made for new technology. Recently, the University of Iceland signed a contract with the University of Manitoba on student exchange, research, and academic conferences to be held every third year. 4W5fiWWWOWOWWOMWC<WWOÖWMWX-KWW3WW»5CWSCðOWWOOCCflWC>50WOOWC*SððWOWfiflflWöCWW»WW6WWíW»C,SiMWÖflWWWWOðöCOflOCÖMflWMWÖ«OWSWWCW»ðöOOWOðCöðOððCWSCWMöCWWðCCM»WCC<SðOWCMWOflWCÖðWOMOCOOOOWWHðWOOWWWðWflflWMWOCOOÖðððððOðððOCflöC< The Value of Icelandic Presence One million dollars to the University of Manitoba For more information, visit our website: www.iceland2000.org

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