Welcome Address Jón Sigurðsson Day/Iceland Independence Day Manitoba Celebration June 17, 2020
by Judy Bradley, President, Jon Sigurdsson Chapter IODE and Karen Botting, President, Icelandic Canadian Frón
Welcome to the 38th Annual Jón Sigurðsson Day/Iceland Independence Day Celebration.
We begin our celebration by acknowledging that the Jón Sigurðsson statue is located on Treaty 1 land, which consists of original territories of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dené peoples and the homeland of the Métis Nation.
This year is particularly special as Manitoba celebrates its 150th Anniversary as a province, while the World comes to grips with a pandemic. However, we continue to nurture our special bond with Iceland, and honour traditions that keep us connected to our heritage. Thus, we are celebrating June 17 through social media.
Why is June 17th special? In Iceland, it is a national holiday which marks its full independence from Denmark. This date was chosen as it was the birthday of Jón Sigurðsson, who led the 19th century struggle for Icelandic self-government.
On June 17, 2010, The Jón Sigurðsson Day Act was assented to in the Manitoba Legislature, proclaiming June 17 as Jón Sigurðsson Day in honour of Icelandic settlers in Manitoba.
One year ago, in May, we celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the Icelandic National League of North America and the Icelandic Canadian Frón. We were honoured to have had the President of Iceland, Guðni Th. Jóhannesson and his wife, Eliza Reid join us and bring greetings.
Today, we proudly recognize Anna Stevens, the Fjallkona for 2020. Each year the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba chooses one woman to be Fjallkona and preside over Islendingadagurinn events. She is a symbol of the Icelandic homeland. Under normal circumstances Anna would have laid the wreath at the Jón Sigurðsson statue, but because of the current pandemic, this was not possible.
Thanks to everyone who has brought greetings today and to our guest speaker, PJ Buchan, Head, Department of Icelandic Language and Literature, University of Manitoba. We also would like to acknowledge the contribution of Susan Hjalmarson who put our “virtual” program together.
Please stay safe and healthy.
Greetings from The Honourable Janice Filmon
Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba
As the Queen’s representative in Manitoba, I am pleased to extend vice-regal greetings to the members and friends of Jon Sigurdsson IODE, as you come together in celebration of Jon Sigurdsson Day in our province.
For more than a century, your organization has been a shining example of what can be accomplished when we work together to honour our past, serve in the present and contribute to the future. Through your shared dedication to your Icelandic heritage, you continue to serve our provincial community in ways that are not only honourable and appreciated, but also provide the support and opportunities to help others lead the way into a stronger future for themselves, and ultimately, for us all.
Multiculturalism and community spirit are two of the most remarkable aspects of the great quality of life we enjoy here in Manitoba. Through your exemplary work, you demonstrate those truths with every good deed you accomplish.
Thank you for your outstanding contributions to our province. I wish you continued success.
The Honourable Janice C. Filmon, C.M., O.M.
Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba
Greetings from Ambassador Pétur Ásgeirsson
Icelandic Ambassador to Canada
Greetings from The Honourable Brian Pallister
Premier of Manitoba
On behalf of all Manitobans, I am pleased to extend a warm welcome to those participating in Jon Sigurdsson Day on June 17. This annual celebration is always a special occasion for Icelandic Canadians in our province, but it is especially noteworthy in 2020 as it coincides with Manitoba’s 150th anniversary.
At a time in our global history where people of all ages and backgrounds feel a greater sense of belonging and togetherness, this year’s virtual Jon Sigurdsson Day event will be one to remember as we celebrate Icelandic culture, heritage and descent.
Successfully hosting Jon Sigurdsson day requires the ongoing effort of a committed team. I join my fellow Manitobans in thanking the Jon Sigurdsson Chapter IODE and the Icelandic Canadian Frón for the work they do to ensure this annual event is celebrated across Manitoba communities.
The Honourable Brian Pallister
Greetings from His Worship Brian Bowman
Mayor of Winnipeg
I am happy to extend my warmest wishes marking this virtual celebration of Jon Sigurdsson Day. 2020 is a year that will change the lives of so many people, and while I know that many of you will be disappointed to miss a year of in-person celebrations, the Icelandic community is strong, resilient, and united.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Icelandic Canadian Frón Club for its work to represent the Icelandic culture in our diverse city. While there will be no large public celebrations of Manitoba 150 this year, it is still a time to think about the people who have chosen to come from across the globe to make this province home. Icelandic immigrants in Manitoba help define our multicultural heritage.
On behalf of the City of Winnipeg, I want to recognize the organizers of this virtual celebration. I hope that everyone will enjoy this unique way to mark the life and work of Jon Sigurdsson.
Mayor Brian Bowman
City of Winnipeg
Message From Peter John R. Buchan Instructor and Head of Department
Department of Icelandic Language and Literature University of Manitoba
Memories from June 17, 1944
Pictured above is Pétur Á Jónsson, grandfather of Icelandic Canadian Frón member Karen Johannsson. He was an opera singer who lived in Germany and sang with several opera companies from 1911 to 1932. Pétur Á Jónsson sang at the first June 17th celebration at Thingvellir in 1944. What an event that must have been! The people that participated in the ceremony at Thingvellir in 1944 were given a medal to commemorate the event, pictured below.
Statue of Jón Sigurðsson
Jón Sigurðsson is considered the key individual in the fight for Icelandic autonomy from Danish rule and he was the first president of the modern day Icelandic Althing.
In 1910, Icelanders began discussing erecting a statue of Jón Sigurðsson to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his birth.
Many Icelanders in North America wanted to be a part of this Icelandic initiative. It was decided by North American Icelanders to undertake a fundraising project with the goal of raising 10,000 krónur. This project was a great success with 10,415 krónur raised (approximately $2,800.00). This money was donated by 6,000 individuals from various Icelandic settlements in North America. The money was received with gratitude in Iceland and the Icelanders decided to have two statues made and to send one as a gift to the Icelanders in North America.
The statue arrived in Winnipeg in 1912. After much discussion, the statue was erected on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislative Building in 1921, where it stands today.
The statue of Jón Sigurðsson was the first statue to be erected on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislative Building. It is located northeast of the building and faces toward Iceland.
THE JON SIGURDSSON DAY ACT
THE JON SIGURDSSON DAY ACT
(Assented to June 17, 2010)
WHEREAS Jon Sigurdsson was an Icelandic scholar and statesman who led the 19th century struggle for Icelandic self-government;
AND WHEREAS Jon Sigurdsson’s birthday, June 17, was chosen as Iceland’s national holiday when Iceland announced its autonomy from Denmark in 1944;
AND WHEREAS a statue of Jon Sigurdsson, which stands on the northeast corner of the grounds of the Manitoba Legislative Building, was presented by the people of Iceland in June 1921 in honour of the Icelandic settlers who were among the first to establish a community in Manitoba;
THEREFORE HER MAJESTY, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, enacts as follows:
Jon Sigurdsson Day
June 17 in each year is proclaimed as Jon Sigurdsson Day.