Winnipeg, Manitoba – Premier Brian Pallister and members of the Progressive Conservative government welcomed Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir to Manitoba Friday.
The Premier was joined by MLAs Len Isleifson (Brandon East) and Derek Johnson (Interlake), both of Icelandic descent, and Municipal Relations Minister Jeff Wharton, who represents Gimli, the town with the world’s greatest concentration of people of Icelandic descent outside of Iceland.
“Manitoba and Iceland have a real and special connection,” said Pallister. “Icelanders immigrated here, first to the shores of Lake Winnipeg to found New Iceland, beginning in 1875, and have contributed greatly to the cultural life and economic prosperity of our province since then.”
Manitoba boasts both the highest number and greatest concentration of people of Icelandic descent in Canada, comprising more than two per cent of the province’s total population.
Prime Minister Jakobsdottir was touring of Manitoba and North Dakota, and will be visiting the Icelandic Festival in Gimli this weekend as part of her trip.
The two leaders discussed the close bond between Iceland and Manitoba as well as current issues of common interest, including climate change and challenges to international trade.
The Prime Minister renewed an invitation for Pallister to visit Iceland.
The connections between Iceland and Manitoba were made obvious leading up to the 2018 FIFA World Cup when MLA Isleifson discovered he was related to almost the entire Icelandic national soccer team.
“Families like mine are very proud of our Icelandic heritage and our contribution to Manitoba,” said Isleifson. “We retain much of our culture and traditions and it was a thrill for me to meet the prime minister of my family’s ancestral home.”