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Dr. Gordon Asmundson elected to Royal Society of Canada

Asmundson, a professor of clinical psychology, is being honoured for his pioneering work indetermining linkages between anxiety disorders, such as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and chronic pain.
 
“I’m honoured to be recognized with the select others who have been granted fellowship in the Royal Society of Canada,” Asmundson says. “This is a significant validation that the work my team and I are doing is important.”
 
Before joining the University of Regina in 2002, Asmundson was the director of research for the Regina-Qu’Appelle Health Region.

He earned his bachelors, masters and PhD degrees at the University of Manitoba. Asmundson was honoured at a ceremony in Ottawa on November 28.
 
The U of R’s Vice-President of Research, Dr. David Gauthier, says the prestigious national recognition of the accomplishments of Asmundson demonstrates the importance the University puts on research.
 
“The University is very proud of the tremendous leadership that Dr. Asmundson has shown in advancing this critically important area of research and the benefits his independent research is bringing to help those dealing with anxiety and chronic pain,” says Gauthier.

 

Iceland through a lens

It was all a matter of coincidence. Or coincidences, one after the other. A photographer bears the germ of an idea for publishing several years of unique views of Icelandic landscape.

He gets to chatting with a geoscientist and travel enthusiast who is one of the country’s most prolific writers.

They happen to know a publisher with the enthusiasm to appreciate their proposal for a joint project. And to top it off a translator lives just across the street.
 
That of course is the essence of Iceland – human connections. This unique society where you don’t look in the yellow pages, you ask your friends, whether you need a plumber, used baby furniture or an apartment to rent. And that became the name of this book, which reflects in images the physical essence of Iceland but doesn’t stop there: instead poetry and prose texts accompanying each photograph extract glimpses of the spiritual character of these same images.
 
Born in Reykjavík in 1952, Kristján Ingi Einarsson began taking photographs at the age of ten, when he acquired his first box camera. In 1972, he graduated from the Industrial College of Reykjavík as a printer and worked at this trade for a number of years while also doing freelance photography for various newspapers, magazines, companies and institutions.

In 1985, he took over as director of a printing firm, where he would remain until the autumn of 2006, when he sold the business to return to his former pursuit as photographer.

Although Kristján Ingi has held six photographic exhibitions and provided photos for a number of school text books, he became a favourite in our family with a number of highly original children’s books, including: Húsdýrin okkar (Our Domes­tic Animals), Krakkar, krakkar (Children, Children) and Kátt í koti (Full of Fun).
 
“My previous work focused more on people and their pursuits, but as I grew older my interest in nature and landscape grew. The photos in this book are all digital, taken during the last four years, and practically untouched.” He smiles, “you don’t have to ‘photoshop’ Icelandic nature. But selecting which photos to include was not easy. I decided to choose the stillness and natural beauty of Icelandic landscape without people.” The outcome, The Essence of Iceland, published by Salka publishers in four languages, Icelandic plus companion English or French or German translations in each volume. There are definitely less pleasant ways to brush up your Icelandic!
 
“This is my vision of the country, eyed through the camera lens. I don’t wait for hours for the right light but try to catch the light in this single instance,” Kristján Ingi explains. “And I travel routes other than the best-known travellers’ destinations. This book is intended just as much for Icelanders and will hopefully spark their interest in viewing new areas of the country.”
 
Author and geoscientist Ari Trausti Guðmundsson has given a voice to the images, in haiku-like poems that transpose musings into printed form:
Í dag er ég............... Today I am
örn.....................................eagle
skima yfir lendur mínar............. scanning my domain
hlusta á öldurnar...................... listening to waves
les skýin..............reading clouds
leita að bráð.......... seeking prey
 
Or they can be wry tales masquerading as traditional legends:
Once two giant seals dwelt in Hamravík. Cruel and greedy, they terrified other sea dwellers, even the whales. One night they devoured an entire school of pollock, but when it came to the last fish, one seal refused to let go of the head while the other gripped the tail tightly. Rearing back, challenging and threatening, they stared into each other’s eyes until the sun rose. Both turned to stone while the fish got off with a few scratches.
 
“They say that photography is a lonely art - at least for the person travelling with the photographer! So my family deserves plenty of thanks for being there to share these visions with me,” Kristján Ingi concludes.
 
The Essence of Iceland is available from Tergesen’s in Gimli or can be ordered from Amazon.

Matriarch of Hólmlátur

Hólmlátur, near the shore of Hvammsfjörður, Iceland, has for centuries been the home of many travellers who have gone from there to explore new worlds.

One of the first was Eiríkur Rauði (Erik the Red) Þorvaldsson and his wife, Þjóðhildur Jörundardóttir. Around A.D. 970, he received land as a dowry from Þjóðhildur’s father, Jörund Atlasson who lived on the farm named Vatn in Haukadal. On this land they built Eiríksstaðir.
 
When Eiríkur was outlawed in 982, he lost all his possessions, and they left Iceland to explore the island to the west. As the Saga says, he and the family returned, stayed with Ingólfur Ánason for the winter, and finally, in 985, sailed with others in 25 ships for Greenland. They left from Hólmlátur to build a new life far from Iceland.
 
In 1894, 909 years later, Jörundur Guðbrandsson left from this area and immigrated to Lundar, MB with his daughter, Kristjána, and her husband, Daniel Sigurðsson, born at Tjaldbrekka. In 1903, Jörundur´s son, Guðbrandur, his wife, Jóhanna, and their five children followed and settled near Lundar. Three more children were born and one is now, both in Iceland and North America, the Matriarch of Hólmlátur.
 
Aðalheiður Jany Jörundson (Ade­laide) was born on January 13, 1909, on the farm three miles from the Stony Hill Post Office in Grunnavatnsbyggð. Her mother gave her the nickname, Lalla, after an actress. Lalla learned English at Morning Star School, but was taught to read and write in Icelandic by her mother. Later, when the Rocky Hill School was built, the children walked the three miles daily to attend.
 
In 1929, Lalla and her older sister, Þuríður, followed to Los Angeles in the footsteps of their sister, Kristine, and her husband, Harry Mitchell, who had moved there in 1924.  Lalla was the hairdresser and Thura/Thora, who had married Nils Lansing, and Kristine were the dressmakers with clients in Hollywood.
 
In 1933, Lalla married Ronald McNutt and together they raised their three children, Gloria, Kenneth, and David, far from Manitoba and far from Iceland. Over the great distance of time, place, and language, Lalla faithfully main­tained contact with her family.
 
On January 13, 2010, our dear Lalla celebrated her 101st birthday. This active centenarian enjoys life to the fullest. The phone may ring and a youthful voice says, “Hello, this is Lalla.” A conversation with Lalla brightens the day. Let us honour the Matriarch of Hólmlátur by sending her 101 greetings and wishes.
 
Forward this article to all her family and friends old and new in North America and Iceland. The contact addresses are below.
 
Hólmlátur exists no more. It is only a metal sign. The people are gone. Eiríkur and Þjóðhildur died in Greenland. Jörundur and his family are buried near Lundar, and Lalla’s husband, sisters, and brothers-in-law are buried in California. But life goes on, with blessings. Lalla’s 8th great-grandchild, Marley Margaret McNutt Vazquez, will be one year old on January 19, 2010.

They are a century apart in age, but they are bound by love, the ingredient carried to the rest of the world with the travellers from the Hólmlátur “ætt”. No matter where we are, the Matriarch of Hólmlátur guides us with her heart.

Áfmælis oskir, Happy Birthday, Aðalheiður Jany.
 
Following is the address for Lalla: Adelaide J. McNutt 1230 E. Windsor RD. #109 Glendale, CA 91205-2640  Email messages may be sent to her son, David McNutt:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 

The Icelandic Connection renewed

Surviving into one’s sixty-eighth year is a goodly age for anyone, but when it comes to literary magazines it should be said that one has not aged, one has simply mellowed and matured.

On October 1, 1942 the first issue of The Icelandic Canadian was published and a new magazine was born. The magazine was the ambitious endeavour of the Icelandic Canadian Club in Winnpeg.

The first staff consisted of author Laura Goodman Salverson, along with the editorial board of Stefan Hansen, Helen Sigurdson, Hjalmur Danielson, Grace Reykdal and Judge W. J. Lindal. Advertising duties were handled by Sig. T. Bardal.
 
The Icelandic Canadian Club was formed in Winnipeg by a group of people who were keen to maintain their links to their Icelandic ancestry and community but intended to do so on their own terms – in English and with their Canadianness firmly in focus.

Arni G. Eggertson was then the President of the Icelandic Canadian Club of Winnipeg. In that first issue of the magazine he expresses his pleasure and congratulations to the club members who had formed the editorial board and launched this new journal.

The club members felt that the Icelandic-language speaking community in North America was well enough served by the newspapers Lögberg and Heimskringla (still two separate papers at that time).

The aim of the Icelandic Canadian Club was to provide an English language outlet for articles, poetry and essays by members of the Icelandic-North American cultural community. The first editorial states: “It is our conviction that the time has come to cut ourselves free of the fallacious idea that our duty to the past must constrain us to the old Icelandic mold. We believe that our first duty is to Canada and the world of tomorrow.”
 
Back in 1942 the subscription rate was set $1.00 for a year. The rate today is $32.00 for mailings in Canada and $40.00 for USA and international mailings. Even though the Bank of Canada’s calculator tells us this increase is two and a half times the rate of inflation, it can be argued this is still a reasonable rate for four issues of reading enjoyment per year.

Much has transpired in the sixty-eight year history of the journal. The Icelandic Canadian has continuously maintained itself through many, many steadfast volunteers.

Only the desktop layout setter receives payment. For the rest of the editorial board and the magazine’s contributors it is looked on as a commitment to our community. Volunteering is a matter of pride rather than an onerous duty.
 
Many people have kept the magazine in print throughout the years; some editors have even gone so far as to back it with their own personal funds. Editors in the past include such well-known names from the history of the Icelandic-Canadians in the Winnipeg community: Judge Walter Lindal, Holmfridur Danielson, Dr. Wilhelm Kristjanson, Axel Vo­pnfjord, Kirsten Wolf and Sig­rid Johnson.
 
The very first edition of the magazine began the short biographical and photo feature “Our War Effort” to recognize men and women of Icelandic descent who were then enlisted in the American and Canadian forces during World War II.

These entries later became the base of the compilations of enlisted personnel published by the IODE Jon Sigurdsson Chapter. These books are cherished to this day by so many of our families. Another early fea­ture was to publish the names of university graduates and to note their achievements.

After some years this listing became too difficult to assemble as so many were now integrated into the general community with anything but Icelandic surnames. However we are still certainly eager to publish short articles extolling accomplishments of our younger achievers.
 
The magazine has offered to many an aspiring young writer the opportunity to see their work in print. Subjects are so varied over the years that it is difficult to categorize. Poetry has always played a part in the issues as have book reviews.

Many a university thesis has been edited to fit the format suitable for the general readership and has seen publication in The Icelandic Canadian, giving our young scholars another audience to which to present the results of their research.

It would be wonderful to have more translations of some of the adventure stories and essays written in the earlier days of our Icelandic-North American history. So much of this literature is only accessible to those who read or write in Icelandic. This is something the editorial board is trying to pursue.
 
As far back as Volume 3, Issue #1, a letter to the editor from an American subscriber, Mrs. Herman K. Thordarson reads: “…that the name of the magazine be changed. The very fact that an article entitled “Our Friends Across the Border” is contained in the magazine im­plies our exclusion.”

Letters such as these and suggestions from even our Canadian reader­ship have frequently caused us to rethink the name. The subscription list has been dwindling and just like the L-H we find our­selves wondering how we can reinvent the magazine to reach out to the larger community of those of Icelandic descent and, in general, anyone with an interest in our community.
 
At recent editorial board meetings much discussion has gone into how to go about broadening that interest base. By using the name The Icelandic Canadian it was felt we were discouraging fellow Americans and other international readers from subscribing.

The discussions followed as to what would be a more suitable name. The culmination resulted in the board’s consensus to rename our magazine the Icelandic Connection (with acknowledgement to Bill Perlmutter for the new name proposal).

The new name will appear with the first publication of the 2010 year: Volume 64, issue 1. We hope this renaming will appeal to a wider audience. Name change notwithstanding; we guarantee that the quality of our literary journal will continue and we most certainly expect to survive for many more years to come.

Snorri Plus 2009

Each day of the Snorri Plus Program brought the chance to meet new people, see new landscapes and learn about the history and culture of Iceland. When I was asked to share my experience in the program last summer, a particular day of the trip came to mind mmediately as one that showed me better than all the others the wonder of Iceland.
 
The day began as we left Akureyri and ventured on an hour ride in the countryside where we caught glimpses of snow skimming the mountaintops.  The first stop was the impressive Goðafoss or “Waterfall of the Gods”. According to the sagas, this waterfall got its name after the formerly heathen priest marked the conversion of Iceland to Christianity in the year 1000 by throwing wooden images of the pagan gods into the falls.

Next we ventured to a family-owned stable where we saddled up and had the chance to ride Icelandic horses. As they navigated us through a rocky field near Lake Myvatn in the misty rain, I learned to appreciate these beautiful but sturdy animals.

After a quick lunch we embarked on a short road trip to the Dimmuborgir area and walked around the eerily shaped lava field where trees, moss and toadstools have sprouted and where we half-expected to find elves or trolls living in and amongst the caves.

 Unbelievably, just a few minutes away, there were pits of bubbling sulfurous mud and rocky pustules gushing with steam. At this point, my mom, aunt and I got a case of the giggles because it felt like this little patch of ground was so unusual that it had to be from another planet.

What made it even stranger was the fact that just on the other side of the parking lot was a lush green pasture with sheep being corralled for the annual wool harvest. After that, we drove past a geothermal energy plant and headed to an almost opalescent pool of water in the middle of a crater, called viti (hell).

The adventure ended with an evening trip to the heavenly waters of the Myvatn Baths. There we stargazed                    while soaking in the warm water and all the things we had seen that day. This day took us from hell to heaven with many adventurous and historical stops along the way. Having gone from powerful waterfalls to hardy horses to lava fields to sulfur pits to sheep pastures to craters and then to heavenly baths was certainly a sensory overload.

However, it was also much more than that. It was a glimpse into the extremes of the Icelandic geography and how its people have adapted to make the most of their incredible surroundings. To have been able to not only survive but to thrive in this environment, the people of Iceland, our ancestors, must have had a spirit of strength and ingenuity as well as a wonderful sense of humour.

I’ve always been proud of my Icelandic heritage, in part due to the exotic nature of being able to tie myself to a European country about which few people know anything. After being able to see the north- Icelandic                    landscapes where my ancestors were born and raised, my pride is now much greater.

They came from this harsh country and, even though they left, my great-grandparents and the other New Icelanders stayed true to many of the fundamentals that make the Icelandic people great: a focus on literacy and education, music and the arts as well as that good Icelandic witty humour.

At the end of the two weeks of the program, I arrived home more exhausted than when I left but with a far greater appreciation of my Icelandic roots that I thought possible. The chance to be able to share this with my mom and aunt as well as a group of other Canadians with Icelandic roots made it all the more meaningful. I keep trying to find an appropriate word to summarize our Icelandic adventure.
 
Neither awe-inspiring nor enlightening seems to be sufficient. What I can say is that this Snorri Plus Program was far more than just a vacation; it was an experience I will always remember.


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