Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A toast to Canada

A speech by Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland on Islendingadagurinn August 2nd 2010

It is a great pleasure to be with you here today on this splendid occation. I want to thank you for inviting us to participate in the festivities of Islendingadagurinn.

We have been here a few days now and this has been an adventure beyond anything we could have imagined. We have visited Icelandic Winnipeg and walked along Sargent Street. It is fascinating to think that a few decades ago we would have heard Icelandic spoken everywhere on that street, both in the shops and the sidewalks as well as in the children´s playgrounds. We saw the First Lutheran Church where a generation of people, born in Iceland, worshipped. The church where young immigrants got married and a new generation was christened and blessed to carry on the hopes and dreams that were born in a country far away, but always in their hearts.

As Prime Minister I bring you the greetings of the Icelandic Government which is hard at work steering our country through very difficult times. There were no easy solutions and there certainly were few popular decisions to be made. But like the Icelanders arriving at White Rock 135 years ago we are determined to succeed - fortified by the knowledge that we have many times before in our history been faced with great adversity and survived.

Iceland is blessed with great resources - the fish in the sea, the power in the waterfalls and the geothermal energy. The nation is educated and the people are hardworking as always. We have a solid infrastructure of schools, hospitals, roads, bridges and airports, already built and mostly paid for. Our long term prospects are therefore good and I am certain that within a few years we will be doing fine again.

The friendship and moral support of the people of Icelandic descent in Canada is greatly appreciated and much needed. Canada enjoyes unparalelled respect among the nations of the world for how open and welcoming the country has been to immigrants from all continents and how you have created a true multicultural society full of compassion and understanding.

We have a very special bond between Iceland and Canda – made strong by common history and shared heritage. The fact that Canadians of Icelandic descent have formed about 30 different clubs, chapters and institutions to nurture the Icelandic history and heritage in Canada is a solid testament to the unique dedication that people of Icelandic descent in Canada show to their Icelandic roots.

Earlier this year Iceland lost one of its best friends in Canda, former Consul General, Neil Bardal whom we are forever grateful to and will remeber fondly. I never met Neil, but I heard about him from numerous friends and greately respected him. His lifelong effort to strengthening the relationship between Canada and Iceland will never be forgotten. God bless Neil Bardal.

We are grateful to Canada for many things and we admire and respect what has been achieved here - and we love Canada because it is home to thousands and thousands of wonderful people of Icelandic descent – our friends and relatives.

Dear friends

I admire your dedication and I assure you that my government is fully committed to working with you in perserving and honoring your history and heritage.

Let me thank you again for your invitation. Thank you - takk fyrir.

God bless Canada


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