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Iceland’s ambassador discusses shared priorities with leaders in N. W. T

YELLOWKNIFE – Iceland’s ambassador to Canada was in the Northwest Territories capital this week discussing shared priorities with leaders in the territory.

Hlynur Gudjonsson met with N.W.T. Premier Caroline Cochrane and Julie Green, the territory’s minister of health. He said they discussed a variety of topics including renewable energy, climate change, mental health and substance use among youth.

“The Northwest Territories and Iceland are linked in ways that have created a strong bond between our jurisdictions,” Cochrane said in a statement. “That includes our collective efforts to foster relationships across the circumpolar Arctic that highlights issues that are important to strengthening our position on the international stage.”

Gudjonsson said Iceland and Canada have a long relationship that “is extremely important not only business-wise, but culturally.”

The two countries celebrated 75 years of diplomatic relations this year and Gudjonsson said the first large group of Icelanders to permanently settle in Canada arrived in Manitoba in 1875. The 2016 census reported there were more than 100,000 Canadians with Icelandic heritage.

“Canada has the largest diaspora of Icelanders in the world,” Gudjonsson said. “We actually call them western Icelanders.”

Both Iceland and Canada are members of the Arctic Council and NATO, among other international organizations, and bilateral trade between the two countries was valued at $202 million in 2021.

Gudjonsson, who became the ambassador in August 2021, said he has made it a priority during his first year in the role to visit all three territories. He said he has discussed similar issues, which are important for Arctic security, in Nunavut and Yukon.

“I think we can learn a lot from each other,” he said. “I think we can assist each other in solving some of those problems that we have in our communities.”

In recognition of the 75-year anniversary of diplomatic relations, Gudjonsson gifted a collection of 28 books by Icelandic authors to the Yellowknife public library. The embassy previously made similar donations to libraries in Whitehorse and Iqaluit this year, while a selection of Canadian books was gifted to public libraries in Reykjavik and Akureyri.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2022.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.


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