Government Pledges to Strengthen Manitoba’s Icelandic Studies Program

The Icelandic government has pledged to strengthen the Icelandic Department at the University of Manitoba by developing deeper connections between that institution and the University of Iceland’s Faculty of Icelandic and Comparative Cultural Studies. Mbl.is reports that among other steps taken, a lecturer position in Icelandic literature will be established at the University of Manitoba which will be partially funded by the Office of the Prime Minister in Iceland.

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir announced the collaboration on Thursday during a speech at the Veröld, the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute of Foreign Languages. During her talk, Katrín recalled her trip last year to Manitoba, where many Icelanders emigrated in the late 19th century. She said the trip had made clear to her what a strong connection Canadians with Icelandic ancestry (often known as West Icelanders) have to their Icelandic heritage.

The new lecturer will teach two classes on Icelandic literature in the Icelandic department at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, as well as advise graduate students in the department, and oversee a summer exchange program at the University of Iceland. The lecturer will also oversee possible research projects and publications in connection with the literary and cultural heritage of Icelandic emigrants and their descendants in North America.

Prime Minister Guest of Honor at Icelandic Heritage Celebrations in North America

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir and her husband Gunnar Sigvaldason will be the guests of honor at two Icelandic heritage celebrations held in Gimli, Manitoba (Canada) and Mountain, North Dakota (US) this weekend, RÚV reports.

Dubbed “New Iceland” by Icelandic settlers who started settling there in 1875, the town of Gimli is home to the largest population of people of Icelandic descent outside of Iceland. Islendingadagurinn, the town’s annual Icelandic Festival, is taking place for the 129th time this year and includes a Viking Village with 100 re-enactors who “live like authentic 800 A.D. period Vikings on the Harbour Park Hill during the festival and will ‘battle’ each day,” as well as music, children’s activities, Icelandic food and beer, and more.

The Deuce of August, Islendingadagurinn’s sister celebration in Mountain, North Dakota, will be held for the 112th time this year. The event quadruples the town’s population of 130 and offers free genealogical research, as well as a full schedule of cultural events. Mountain is also home to Vikur Lutheran Church, which was established in 1880 and is said to be the oldest Icelandic church in North America. Katrín will be taking part in the festival’s morning parade this year and will be the Keynote Speaker at the event’s Heritage Program.

Read more about ‘West Icelanders’ and their heritage celebrations on the BBC website here.