Ljósanótt “Evening of Lights” Tribute Dinner, Jan 26 2013

An evening honouring

Þrúður Helgadóttir and Atli Ásmundsson

26 January 2013
Cocktails: 6:00 p.m. (cash bar)
Dinner and Program: 7 p.m.
The Fort Garry Hotel | 222 Broadway
The Grand Ballroom | Fort Garry Place
Winnipeg, MB

Ljósanótt, Jan 26 2013

Leaving home, and going home

After nine years in Winnipeg, (‘the best time of my working life’) Iceland’s consul general and his wife are getting ready to retire …and talk about Manitoba

By: Martin Cash         Winnipeg Free Press

“Atli Ásmundsson, the good-natured consul general for Iceland in Winnipeg, likes to say that only the superpowers have diplomatic representation in Winnipeg — the U.S. and Iceland.

Ásmundsson has endeared himself to the Winnipeg community so excellently in his nine-year tenure here that most of us do not give it a second thought that Iceland is the only other country besides the U.S. to have a professional diplomatic presence in Winnipeg.

Considering there are much greater trade volumes between Manitoba and places such as China, Japan, Mexico and South Korea, and likely more immigration connections to the Philippines or Ukraine, it underlines the special relationship that exists between the north Atlantic island nation and this lake-dominated central province in Canada.

Ásmundsson has become a fixture in Winnipeg and is held in high regard not just by those of Icelandic heritage in Manitoba, but by the broader community. He has reached the mandatory Icelandic foreign service retirement age of 70 and will officially leave his post next June.

Lgberg-Heimskringla, Winnipeg’s long-standing Icelandic newspaper, will honour Ásmundsson and his wife Thrúdur Helgadóttir at its annual gala dinner in January.

The ever-charming former political party operative and his wife will relocate to Iceland, where they plan to spend their early retirement years doing public speaking in towns and villages throughout Iceland about a subject he said Icelanders cannot get enough of: Manitoba.

“For me, it (his time in Winnipeg) has been the best time of my working life,” Ásmundsson said.

“I have been offered many times to go elsewhere to different postings. I have always said that if the minister thought I am doing a good job here I would like to stay.”

Officially, the consulate’s most important function is to help the tens of thousands of people of Icelandic descent who live in Manitoba and Western Canada stay in touch with their history and heritage by offering information and facilitating cultural events.

Iceland established an honorary Consul in Winnipeg in 1942 even before the country was officially independent. In 1999, a diplomat was sent to head the new consulate general that opened that year.

Ásmundsson has been an excellent promoter of the vigorous cultural output from Iceland (as well as from North Americans of Icelandic descent.) Among other things, he was a great supporter of núna (now), the Icelandic Festival.

He has championed Icelandic writers and proudly boasts that Iceland has close to 100 per cent literacy and that Icelanders publish more books per capita than any other nation in the world.

But he is also a responsible advocate for economic interests between Iceland and Manitoba. Five years ago, when Iceland was full-steam ahead in its aggressive, if ill-advised, quest to establish a presence in the international banking industry, Ásmundsson helped Landsbanki, the former National Bank of Iceland, set up an office in Winnipeg.

It is fitting that on the eve of his retirement and departure from Winnipeg, Ásmundsson has seen a special committee of trade officials from Iceland and Manitoba formed to look into potential economic development opportunities between the two regions that have so many friendly connections but little to no business dealings.

“The fact is, there is very little trade between Manitoba and Iceland,” Ásmundsson said. “The committee will look at what the obstacles are. We assume distance and the cost of transportation hinders it. Now with Churchill and Centreport, we are going to have a serious look. I am hoping there will be meaningful results before the middle of next year.”

The Manitoba lead will be fittingly taken by Peter Bjornson, Manitoba’s minister of Entrepreneurship, Training and Trade and a Gimli resident of Icelandic heritage.”

Hotel Fort Garry, Winnipeg



Lobby of the Hotel Fort Garry



A Dapper Gentleman in Icelandic Formal Dress, Jon Gretar Axelsson


Logberg-Heimskringla Feb 15 2013 with lots of photos by Leif Norman
David Arnason checks in



The Grand Ballroom at the Hotel Fort Garry


Helga Sigurdson, Linda Sigurdson Collette, Vi Bjarnason Hilton


Glass Sculpture by Ione Thorkelsson “Anorak”

Gilles Fournier, Richard Gillis and Ron Halldorson Jazz Trio


John K Samson and his father J Timothy Samson


Everyone signed the guest book


Vi Bjarnason Hilton and Donald K Johnson


Icelandic Newspaper, Lögberg-Heimskringla, Logberg means Law Rock, and Heimskringla means Round World


Frank Wilson and Einar Vigfusson



Dr Craig Hildahl



Solskrikjan Kor Winnipeg Icelandic Choir songbook




Barb and Eric Stefanson, Lorna and Mariabar Tergesen


2012 Fjallkona Connie Magnusson-Schimnowski, Kiertan, Pat Bovey, John Gerrard, Tim Samson


Atli Asmundsson




Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra Composer in Residence Vincent Ho on the right



Solskrikjan Kor Winnipeg Icelandic Choir





Grant Stefanson, president of Lögberg-Heimskringla










Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger




Premier Greg Selinger presents a Roman Swiderek painting to Atli Asmundsson


Senator Janis G Johnson


Winnipeg city councillor Grant Nordman


Head of Consular Post
Heather Ireland
Honorary Consul General
for British Columbia


David Gislason, Poet, Farmer, good looking Icelander



A toast to Þrúður Helgadóttir and
Atli Ásmundsson



Þrúður Helgadóttir and her girls


Premier Greg Selinger talks with David Gislason





A fine Icelandic Sweater design









Dr Ken Thorlakson


Fort Garry Hotel’s Famous Creme Brûlée



Freya Olafson, Icelandic Dancer and multimedia artist





John K Samson





John K Samson and Gislina Patterson







Dr Ken Thorlakson



Þrúður Helgadóttir, Atli Asmundsson, Dr Ken Thorlakson and Grant Stefanson


Þrúður Helgadóttir






Þrúður Helgadóttir and Atli Ásmundsson






Rob Rousseau (the stage manger of the whole evening) and Grant Stefanson


After desert and coffee there was a large crowd of people wanting to talk to Atli and Þrúður



Fjallkona Connie Magnusson-Schimnowski




Erika MacPherson and Atli Asmundsson


A splendid Jaguar XK parked in front of the Hotel Fort Garry


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