Icelandic  National  League  of  North  America        


   9 6 th   A n n u a l     C o n v e n t i o n

Icelandic Connections: 
The Sagas Continue


Award Ceremonies

Master of Ceremonies:   Sunna Furstenau  &  Brad Hirst Opening Comments:   Claire Eckley, President of Icelandic National League of North America

Greetings:  Ambassador Hjálmar W. Hannesson, Consul General of Iceland

Honorary Lifetime Membership Award Presentations

Chris Byron (Icelandic American Association)Lyle Hillman presenting

Dawn Hjalmarsson (Icelandic Canadian Frón) - Judy Bradley presenting

Thora Arnason Dech (icelandic Hekla Club)

Sir Magnus (Mike) Olafson  - Sunna Furstenau presenting

Steingrimur (Stony) Steinolfson (Icelandic American Association)- Keith Stinson presenting

Laurence S.G. Johnson Lifetime Achievement Award:

Gunnvör Danielsdóttir Ásmundsson

Presented by:  Patsy Zdrill and Kathleen Dahlin (daughters of Laurence Johnson)

Closing: Claire Eckley, President of Icelandic National League of North America


Sponsored by Donald K. Johnson


Icelandic National League of North America

Honorary Lifetime Membership Awards


Chris Byron grew up in Edinburgh, North Dakota.  His Icelandic family was very important to him. They shared their Icelandic background and Chris developed a tremendous pride in his heritage. When Chris eventually moved from North Dakota to Minnesota, he found Minnesota’s Icelandic Community.  He joined the Icelandic American Association of Minnesota where he served on the Board of Directors and participated in all of the events, working  hard on any task that he undertook. Most important to Chris were the events that included Icelanders visiting from Iceland, when he often found a connection. Chris continues to learn about his heritage.  He and his wife are  SNORRI Plus graduates.   Chris participates in the Icelandic National League of North America Conventions, joined the INL of NA board, and became the Regional Representative to the INL of NA for the Midwest. Every year Chris returns to Mountain, North Dakota and Pembina County for August the Deuce.   He has worked with Lyle Hillman and been instrumental in the organization of the INL of NA and its participation in the event.

Nominated/Presented by: Steingrimur Steinolfson

Thora Arnason Dech is a member of the Icelandic Hekla Club and Honorary Member of the Icelandic American Association of Minnesota. Born on Westman Island, Thora moved first to to Reykjavik then to  Winnipeg and, finally, to Minnesota. She  has always been involved with Icelanders. Many of Minnesota’s Icelandic Costumes have received her sewing skills.  Thora is an Icelandic cook, Editor of an Icelandic cookbook, and active volunteer in Minnesota’s  Icelandic activities.

Dawn Hjalmarsson of Winnipeg, Manitoba, is a tireless volunteer in all The Icelandic Canadian Frón activities including serving on the Board of Directors as secretary and media liason to the Scandinavian newsletter,   and volunteer with Folklorama, Winnipeg's annual multicultural celebration. She is also an Icelandic cook. The cultural events that maintain and support the promotion of Icelandic culture and heritage in Winnipeg are possible because of dedicated volunteers like Dawn.        

Sir Magnus (Mike) Olafson began life in Gardar Township, North Dakota. He was  considered the North Dakota historian of Icelandic Pioneers. His knowledge of our Icelandic ancestors and the immigrants to our region was phenomenal. He fostered many relationships with our friends in Canada and in Iceland. Magnus received many honors, including the Knight’s Cross of the Icelandic Order of the Falcon and the Honorary Lifetime Membership Award from the Icelandic National League in Iceland.  He died April 24, 2015 in Wedgewood Manor, Cavalier, ND, at age 94.


Steingrimur Steinolfson “Stony” is a Mountain, North Dakota Icelander and today also, a Minnesota Icelander.  Stony is a proud, enthusiastic, worker for all things Icelandic.   A co-founder of the Icelandic American Association of Minnesota,  he brought celebrations for Thorrablot, Leifur Eiriksson, Meet and Greets, and Icelandic Soccer Picnics to Minnesota while working at North Dakota Icelandic events including August the Deuce.  He assures the Icelandic presence at community Scandinavian occasions.


 Laurence Johnson Lifetime Achievement Award 2015 

Gunnvör Danielsdóttir Ásmundsson Gunnvör is an excellent candidate for the Laurence Johnson Lifetime Achievement Award. In Winnipeg and Gimli, she is more often than not the “go to” person whenever one needs help or support in Icelandic cultural and heritage matters. She is both generous with her time and spirit. Her time in Canada exemplifies this.

Gunnvör moved to Canada from Iceland in 1970. During her first ten years in Winnipeg, she learned the English language by enrolling in hairdressing school. Later, during the evenings and on Saturdays she took classes at Red River College in Early Childhood Education.

For three years, she worked as a Pink Lady Courier learning about all areas of the City of Winnipeg whilst driving everywhere.   

Soon after moving to Winnipeg, Gunnvor joined the Icelandic Canadian Frón with Hrund Skúlason, Skúli Jóhannsson and took on the secretary position for several years. During th ose days, the meetings were held in Icelandic and conducted in members’ homes. Moving back and forth between Gimli and Winnipeg, Gunnvör has been a club member in both places.  From the 1990’s to her recent retirement in 2013, she participated actively in the IC Frón. For 7 or 8 years she took on the role of Treasurer.   

She was instrumental in starting the Kvennahlaup, Women’s Walk, in 2004, which is held annually in Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg and happens in conjunction with one held in Iceland.  Proceeds from this event have often been donated to CancerCare. 

In 1976, Gunnvör started working with The Icelandic Language Camp in the kitchen “working my way up” to become the language teacher and then the Camp Director until 1994. This culminated in her organizing, fundraising and leading a two week cultural trip to Iceland for 24 children, who had attended the camp with her. 

In 1981 Gunnvör moved to Gimli. Here she held evening courses in Icelandic, once a week. These evening Icelandic classes continued in Winnipeg at the Scandinavian Centre when she moved back in 1990. For a few years she also drove to Portage la Prairie Monday evenings and to Lundar Saturday mornings with a colleague to teach Icelandic.  The Icelandic classes which are a mainstay of the Frón were often organized and taught by Gunnvör. 

When the first INL Convention was held outside of Winnipeg – in Vancouver- Gunnvör took on the task of Convention Coordinator, travelling throughout the country, a position she held until the Selkirk Convention.  During the 2014 Convention, Gunnvör was a luncheon speaker, sharing her immigration experience, as well as a video that was produced by the Canadian Museum of Immigration, Pier 21, in which she played a key role as one of the 9 participants. She also organized several of the clubs to provide Icelandic baking for the coffee breaks – those coffee breaks were a huge success. 

She has volunteered for the Lögberg-Heimskringla, soliciting advertising for special issues such as Christmas and Festival for 2 years. 

The first þorrablót held in Winnipeg around 1976 was initiated and organized by Gunnvör and Birgir Brynjólfsson, Honourary Consul for Iceland. Most years, since then, she has been involved in the organization of this annual event, cooking, baking, selling tickets, etc. 

For more 12 years, until her recent retirement, Gunnvör had the role of secretary and assistant to three Consul Generals of Iceland.  

Following her retirement she moved back to Gimli, where she continues to be actively involved in the community, volunteering as the New Iceland Heritage Museum and at the Healing Garden of the Gimli Hospital. It is not only this rich background in support for the Icelandic Community that Gunnvör has contributed, but she is always willing to help others in need. 

Gunnvör is the proud mother of three children and amma to three grandchildren with whom she is sharing her Icelandic heritage.              



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