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I am responding to Our City Our World - Iceland (Free Press, Nov. 24).

I am of Icelandic background on my father's side. My paternal grandfather fought for Canada in the First World War and was killed in France in 1918. On my mother's side it is more difficult to ascertain my background as my maternal grandmother died when my mother was born. She was raised with her paternal relatives in Virden and no contact was kept with her mother's family. We now think it highly possible that her family were of aboriginal and possibly Scottish stock. All of which brings me to my point.

The early settlers from Iceland were sent north with very little to help them survive the oncoming Manitoba winter. It was the aboriginal and mixed-blood people who were already there who helped them obtain food and shelter the first few years. The story of the Ramsay family and their kindness to the early Icelandic settlers is well-known. What may be less known is the debt the families of the Interlake feel toward this aspect of their history. It seems that in the many articles printed in Saturday's paper the writers have either forgotten this debt or were too embarrassed to admit it. You can only claim strong self-reliance and ethnic pride if you are also willing to admit to a thankfulness for the help of strangers.




In the pages on Icelanders in Manitoba, there is mention of Icelandic studies at the University of Manitoba, but just a passing mention about the Icelandic Collection in Elizabeth Dafoe Library. The long-time accomplished librarian Sigrid Johnson is not mentioned at all. How could the Icelandic department exist without this exemplary collection, and how could the chair of the department not mention it in her article? Surely this collection deserves more than a sentence or two. It is the largest collection of Icelandic materials in Canada and the second largest in North America. It is a hub of Icelandic academic and cultural activity.

I worked in the Dafoe Library for many years, the first 10 in the earlier department of archives and special collections, when, from the beginning and for many years, the Icelandic librarian was the late Hrund Skulason. She and now Sigrid Johnson have been active in the libraries and in the national and international Icelandic community for many years. This is one grand omission not to mention them at all.

And how could you omit the Lundstrom sisters, Sonja and Linda?

Orysia Tracz



Kudos to the WFP for continuing with its series profiling various ethnic groups within Manitoba and the positive impact which they have had on our community.

One descendant of Iceland who was not mentioned in your recent issue is Scotty (Skapti) Borgford. I met Scotty in 1976 while doing research for my master's thesis in city planning at the University of Manitoba. Blessed with a brilliant mind, vision and determination, he was the driving force behind the development in 1966 of Willow Park, the first continuing housing co-operative in Canada, and a model for affordable housing throughout the country. As president and CEO of the Co-operative Housing Association of Manitoba, he played a pivotal role in the development of Westboine Park, Seven Oaks Garden and numerous other co-op housing projects in Winnipeg.

Scotty was committed to the betterment of Manitoba and served a few terms as a trustee for the Winnipeg School Division. About the same time that Buckminster Fuller developed his geodesic dome, Scotty actually built one. It still stands to this day on his family's homestead north of Gimli.




I enjoy reading your ongoing series exploring Manitoba's rich immigrant heritage. This weekend's piece on the impact of Icelandic immigration highlighted the special bonds between Manitoba and Iceland and the significant contributions of the community to Manitoba and Canada.

I would like to point out, however, that you missed a distinguished Manitoban of Icelandic heritage in The Faces of the Icelandic Community, namely John Harvard.

He was born in Glenboro and worked as a radio and television broadcaster with the CBC and CJOB for 31 years before he was elected as a Liberal MP in 1988 and represented Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia for 16 years. He was appointed to a five-year term as Manitoba's lieutenant governor in 2004, becoming the second Icelandic-Canadian to hold that post. He is a member of the Privy Council of Canada and was awarded the Order of Manitoba. He received the Knight's Cross of the Icelandic Order of the Falcon in 2000, has an honorary doctorate from the University of Manitoba (2005) and was inducted as a Knight of the Society of St. John in 2009.

Otherwise, keep up the good work.




You missed Svein Sigfusson in your write-up of important Icelandic people in Manitoba



More prostate details

In response to Terry Meindl's Nov. 20 letter, Missing some info, I would like to add some more information about my prostate cancer choice of treatment. My PSA in 1999 was 6.3, my Gleason grade was six. I had a six-core biopsy, three in each lobe. Two out of three tested positive in the right lobe. The left lobe was clear. I went to a naturopath, who put me on a special diet, as well as some supplements.

Within two months my PSA dropped to 4.3. The lowest that my PSA went down to was 3.4. I had another biopsy in 2002. This time they took out six cores out of each side for a total of 12. Four out of six tested positive in the right lobe. One out of six tested positive in the left lobe. My PSA was 4.7. My Gleason grade was six.

My PSA numbers have fluctuated throughout the past 13 years. In April 2011, my PSA rose to a high of 9.74. In April 2012, my PSA dropped down to 8.47. I have been doing the active surveillance or the watchful-waiting route, as it was called before, from my first diagnosis. I have a PSA test and a digital exam at least once a year. The urologist I go to tells me that I must be leading a charmed life.



Selective statistics

In his Nov. 19 letter, Tom McAuley is indulging in what I call selective statistics manipulation to back his point. I'm sure his figures are correct, but once the reality of inflation is applied, today's $1 trillion was $43 million in 1913, then I doubt that his claims of Barack Obama's record deficits are true.

During the U.S. election, the Republicans claimed that Obama cut $716 billion from Medicare. This scared seniors, who believed that cuts implied reduced benefits. The truth was that Obama cut subsidies to health-care companies to save $716 billion in Medicare costs, yet maintain full benefits. The irony is that if the Republicans did win, they would have truly cut Medicare benefits on Day 1.



Televise the IceCaps

One of the finest things about the Jets' return was the reasonably priced broadcasting of all their games. It feels like it could be a long, cold winter with no hockey to watch.

One development that could really brighten that prospect for me would be if the TSN Jets Channel were to offer St. John's IceCaps games until the Jets return. Winnipeg has proven that it will support the AHL. Unlike the Moose, however, the IceCaps' best players will not end up playing for Vancouver, but they will eventually star with our own team.

It would be great to watch the development of Burmistrov, Meech, Machacek, Telegin, Postma, Pasquale and all of the other prospects who are part of our farm team. It is a service that I and many of my hockey-loving friends would gladly pay for.



What fish they smoking?

Re: Manitoba fish off to China (Free Press, Nov. 24). It seems that the Freshwater Fish Marketing Board has snagged CentrePort's Diane Gray into believing that some radio frequency identification tags attached to our beloved pickerel will sell like rice in China. They even have her believing that, in time, we will have Boeing 747s filled with live fish swimming around in water sent to China. What kind of fish are they smoking?

Why is it impossible for the fish board to focus on one thing, their biggest market: the United States? In Minneapolis St. Paul supermarkets, pickerel is selling at $22 a pound this week. Supermarkets generally double the price on perishables they buy so the fish board should be receiving $10 or $11 a pound. Unfortunately, the huge salaries and fancy pensions at the fish board eat up these profit margins before the fishermen get their cut, which is less than $2 per pound.

The fish board needs to forget about these "tags," forget about flying live fish to China and allow the fishermen to market and sell their own fish here and in the United States, where the markets already exist!



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 27, 2012 A11

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