SAVOURING OUR HERITAGE - Celebrating 140 years in New Iceland

Every year in Gimli, Manitobans of Icelandic descent gather at the New Iceland Heritage Museum (NIHM) on 21 October and then take part in " The Walk to the Rock " to Willow Point where the first wave of Icelandic settlers landed 21 October 1875.
     So, this time around, 140 years were celebrated in Gimli under the banner " Savouring our Heritage". After the walk and traditional ceremony at the Willow Point Monument, Anna Birgis Hannesson gave a talk at the Museum on the one hundreth anniversary of the voting rights, gained by the women in Iceland 1915.
     In the evening, the actor Elfar Logi Hannesson from Ísafjörður in NW Iceland, performed a powerful solo theatre play at the A-Spire Theatre in Gimli. The play, "The Saga of Grettir" is based on one of the most famous Icelandic sagas and tells the story of the Icelandic outlaw and trouble maker, Grettir the Strong, the longest surviving outlaw in Icelandic history. Elfar Logi performed the play also the next day at the University of Manitoba for students and teachers of the Icelandic Language and Literature Department, The English Department and the Theatre and Acting Department. He performed a third time at the A-Spire Theatre on October 23. The play was received with great enthusiasm and Elfar Logi received a lot of praise. These were the first official performances of the play in English.
     On 24 October an Icelandic Gala Dinner took place at the Lakeview Resort Hotel in Gimli. It was the annual NIHM fundraising Gala Dinner but very special. This time Master Chef Friðrik Sigurðsson came from Iceland with Icelandic delicacies, including Icelandic Halibut Soup with Trout, Pickled Carrot and Prune Foam, choice Icelandic Lamb, Nói Siríus Chocolates and chocolate Snow served with Fresh Blueberries to name but a few of the absolute exquisite dishes prepared by the Master Chef. Friðrik Sigurðsson got a standing ovation for his extraordinary efforts. There were three short speeches by Johanne Kristjanson, President, NIHM Board, Ambassador Hjálmar W. Hannesson, the Consul General of Iceland in Winnipeg and Randy Woroniuk, Mayor of Gimli.The Icelandic singer - songwriter Svavar Knútur entertained and delighted the guests at the sold out Gala Dinner with his music and story telling. Elfar Logi joined him in one song to the amusement of everyone. Svavar Knútur was on tour in Canada to promote his fourth solo album, BROT (the breaking), and he also perfomed in Winnipeg twice 25 October.
     The "Savouring our Heritage" celebrations were hugely successful.
     In his message Premier Greg Selinger wrote: "Icelandic culture is a fundamental part of Manitoba´s identity and it is an honour to reflect on the community´s 140 year legacy in our province. When the first wave of Icelandic immigrants came here in 1875, they infused in Manitoba a spirit of courage and determination. They faced tremendous challenges including a long journey, supply shortages and harsh winters. But despite these great hardships, the inhabitants of New Iceland persevered and established thriving communites along the east side of Lake Winnipeg."

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