Foreign Minister Attends “West Iceland” Festivals Skip to content

Foreign Minister Attends “West Iceland” Festivals

Iceland’s Foreign Minister Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir attended two festivals in North America last weekend, held by so-called “West Icelanders,” descendants of Icelanders who migrated to the US and Canada in the late 19th and early 20th century.

In Gimli in Manitoba, Gísladóttir held a speech saying how honored she was to be invited to the festival. The minister said both Iceland and Canada put great emphasis on human rights and that she looked forward to working more with Canada in the future. Gísladóttir also said Iceland had a lot to learn from Canada in relation to immigration issues, Morgunbladid reports.

The Gimli festival was held for the 119th time last weekend and was the largest festival to date with 50,000 people in attendance. Two hundred visitors came from Iceland. “The festival has a long and strong tradition and I am pleased with how it went,” said chairman of the Iceland Committee in Gimli, Robert Arnason.

The other festival in North America in which Gísladóttir participated last weekend was held in Mountain in North Dakota. “You haven’t been to the US until you’ve been there,” the minister said. “It is amazing to see how much effort this scarcely-populated community puts into upholding their origins.”

In her speech, Gísladóttir said that the Icelandic government was proud of the Icelandic community in Mountain. Senator Curtis Olafson, who is also chairman of the local Iceland association, thanked Icelanders and their government for their support.

The Mountain festival was held for the 109th time last weekend and around 200 Icelanders attended the festival.

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