Every spring and summer, the Jon Sigurdsson chapter of Imperial Daughters of the Empire (IODE) holds a bridge and whist luncheon for the purpose of raising money to support scholarships for post-secondary and music education, and to fund community programs.
Beneficiaries of these efforts include a number of service organizations and schools. The organization also supports citizenship court, Remembrance Day, and Jon Sigurdsson Day on June 17.
The chapter’s tradition of raising money to help people in need has been ongoing for close to hundred years. It was founded on March 20, 1916 by Icelandic women in Winnipeg. The first regent (president) was Jóhanna Guðrún Skaptason who was instrumental in founding the chapter, which was launched with 25 members, many of whom had husbands or sons serving in the First World War.
In those days money was raised through what then was called "tombola" (whereby baking goods and crafts were sold by silent auction). Proceeds were used to support the Canadian armed forces serving in the war. The women wrote letters to soldiers, knitted socks, mittens and scarves, rolled bandages, purchased wool and flannel for Red Cross work and served wherever help was required to help Canadian troops overseas.
Later, the chapter compiled and published two books, Veterans of Icelandic Descent in North America, one volume for the First World War and one volume for the Second — both of which recorded the service records and biographical details of veterans of Icelandic descent. Both books can be found in the Icelandic Collection at the Dafoe Library at the University of Manitoba.
After the war the women turned their eyes to those in need at home. The first scholarship was given to Agnes Sigurdsson, when the School of Music at the University of Manitoba was founded in 1936-37. Last year 13 scholarships, worth about $7,000, were given to deserving university students.
Information on applying for these scholarships appears every spring in Lögberg-Heimskringla, Winnipeg’s bi-weekly Icelandic newspaper.
It is amazing how much a few women can accomplish by just holding a fundraiser a couple of times a year. Today, the chapter boasts 986 members, the majority of whom are of Icelandic descent.
This spring’s bridge and whist luncheon will be held Sat., April 26, at Betelstadur, 1061 Sargent Ave,. at the corner of Erin Street.
The bake sale of homemade Icelandic delicacies, including Icelandic brown bread, crepes, kleinur, vínarterta and more, starts at 11 am. A luncheon follows at 11:45 a.m., followed by cards at 1 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the door. For more information please see: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jon-Sigurdsson-Chapter-IODE/426290034117808 or email alicynIODE@gmail.com for information on scholarships.
Arny Hjaltadottir is a community correspondent for the West End.