Welcome Address Jón Sigurðsson Day/Iceland Independence Day Manitoba Celebration June 17, 2021

by Judy Bradley, President, Jon Sigurdsson Chapter IODE and Signy Thorsteinson, President, Icelandic Canadian Frón

Jon Sigurdsson Chapter IODE and Icelandic Canadian Frón welcome you to the 39th annual Jón Sigurðsson Jón Day in Manitoba, and the 77th anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of Iceland.

We begin our celebration acknowledging that the Jón Sigurðsson statue is located on Treaty 1 land, which consists of original territories of Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples and the homeland of the Métis Nation.

This year we continue to struggle with the worldwide pandemic. However, we also continue to nurture our special bond with Iceland, and honour traditions that keep us connected to our heritage. Thus, we are celebrating June 17th through social media.

Why is June 17th special? It is special in Iceland as it is a national holiday commemorating the day in 1944 when Iceland severed its ties to the Danish crown and established a republic. This date was chosen as it is the birthday of Jón Sigurðsson, who was an Icelandic scholar and statesmen who led the 19th century struggle for Icelandic self-government.  

On June 17th, 2010, The Jón Sigurðsson Day Act was passed by the Manitoba Legislature and given Royal Assent, proclaiming June 17th as Jón Sigurðsson Day in honour of the Icelandic settlers in Manitoba. 

Thank you to all who brought greetings today. We would also like to thank Peter John Buchan, head of the Department of Icelandic Language and Literature, University of Manitoba. And, thank you to Susan Hjalmarson who put our virtual program together.

To all, stay safe and healthy.

Greetings from The Honourable Janice Filmon 

Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba

Greetings from the Consul General of Iceland

Ambassador Guðmundur Árni Stefánsson

Greetings from The Honourable Brian Pallister

Premier of Manitoba

Greetings from His Worship Brian Bowman

Mayor of Winnipeg

Greetings from Jenna Boholij

President, Islendingadagurinn

On June 17th, Icelanders celebrate their independence from Denmark and the birthday of Jón Sigurðsson, without whom this would not have been possible.

The legacy of Jón Sigurðsson reminds us of what can be achieved through perseverance, dedication, and a commitment to education and culture.  

The statue of Jón Sigurðsson on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislative Building is identical to one in Reykjavík, Iceland. It is symbolic of the history, connection, and continued partnership between Iceland and Manitoba.  

It is our second year celebrating virtually and the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba would like to thank the Jón Sigurðsson, Chapter IODE and the Icelandic Canadian Frón for their commitment to the Icelandic community and ensuring this important day is recognized.  

We look forward to attending the ceremony in-person in 2022.  

Jenna Boholij
Icelandic Festival of Manitoba / Islendingadagurinn

Greetings from Fjallkona Anna Stevens

As the Fjallkona I am pleased to bring a warm welcome and greetings as we celebrate Jón Sigurðsson Day on June 17, 2021. 

The date of his death in 1879 was only four years after the establishment of New Iceland here in Manitoba. Our pioneers would have known of his work in gaining independence for his country.

In 1921, when they heard that there were plans in Iceland to erect a statue of Jón they decided to contribute what they could for this endeavour. In Iceland, the decision was made to cast two statues and one was sent to Manitoba, which was placed where we see it today.

It is with thanks to the Jón Sigurðsso Chapter, IODE and the Icelandic Canadian Frón that we are able to gather for this tribute and today we do so virtually.

Góðar stundir Bless, Bless Anna Stevens

Greetings from Peter John R. Buchan Instructor and Head of Department

Department of Icelandic Language and Literature University of Manitoba

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.



(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.

Thank you for participating in the Icelandic Canadian Frón and Jon Sigurdsson Chapter IODE virtual June 17th celebration.

8 thoughts on “June 17th Jón Sigurðsson Day

  1. Thank you for this presentation. We really enjoyed it. Heather & Johann Schreiner (Selkirk Bruin Chapter)


  2. Thanks everyone who helped to put together this virtual celebration Most of all thanks to Susan Hjallmanson for making this possible to be seen and shared by everyone online Thanks for sending out the information on how to find this event Maria Bear (Selkirk Bruin Chapter INLNA )


  3. Thank you for sharing the virtual celebration of Jón Sigurðsson Day/Iceland Independence Day Manitoba June 17, 2020. Well done everyone!!


  4. Takk! This was really nice to see and watch! I really appreciated having notification that this was available for virtual watching! This was well done and implemented for so many!🇨🇦🇮🇸😊


  5. I was thinking about the celebration today. Hard to believe it has been 10 years since the legislation was passed. Congratulations for a fine virtual celebration.
    Peter Bjornson


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