Born in Gimli, Manitoba, Nancy Tarr feels lucky to have spent her early childhood in Arborg and Framness, enjoying her amma’s tasty Icelandic treats, tromping around picking wild saskatoons, building forts in the trees, and walking to the Icelandic River to visit cousins. She recalls her langafi teaching her and her older brother how to fish in the ditch at Betel. When her family moved to Alberta, she was heartbroken to say goodbye to her beloved friends and relatives, but she looked forward to summertime, when they would load up the car and make the journey to visit amma and afi.
After Nancy’s mother passed away, she felt the drive to go to Iceland to honor her memory. She packed her mother’s jewels in her backpack, and without knowing why, booked a place at Keflavík, on the old US military base. There, Nancy and her brother Michael met an older man, Ragnar, who they ended up hiring to take them to where their afi was born - a place they never would have found on their own, she says.
There were still people living on the farm where their grandfather was born, an elderly woman and her son. When Ragnar explained why they had come, the woman invited them inside and brought out an old book with a photo of Nancy’s langamma. At the end of their visit, Nancy asked if she could throw some rocks on the property. The woman’s son gave her a strange look. Nancy opened her hand to reveal her mother’s jewels, and the man asked if she was sure. She assured him that she was and sent the “rocks” flying. After that surreal visit, Nancy and her brother met some previously unknown second cousins in a small village. It was the beginning of the adventure of a lifetime, she says.
Nancy attended Mount Royal University and the University of Calgary and spent her career working with dual-diagnosed youth. Her Icelandic heritage is a rich part of her life, and she is happy to be giving back to the Western Icelandic community through her volunteer work.