Nonprofit charitable organization Icelandic Roots (IR) was well represented at the 100th annual Icelandic National League of North America Convention in Winnipeg last month, with 18 volunteers from across Canada, the US, and Iceland in attendance. On Friday, nine of those volunteers joined together to give a short presentation, with each person focusing on their area of expertise. After founder and president Sunna Furstenau introduced the organization, volunteer genealogists Cathy Josephson of Vopnafjörður and Doreen “Kristy” Marston of Tennessee talked about their work. Along with many others on the team, they focus primarily on IR’s genealogy database, a treasure trove of emigration information, photos, documents, and more pertaining to almost 700,000 emigrants and people of Icelandic descent.
Next, Doug Hanson of Virginia shared the database’s powerful maps feature and discussed IR’s philanthropy, with thousands of dollars as well as practical support going toward the Snorri Programs, Icelandic language grants, and various heritage and educational projects each year. Dave Jonasson of Colorado spoke on behalf of the IT team and talked about how IR constantly strives to incorporate the latest technology. Renowned photographer Mats Wibe Lund, who has generously allowed the use of his aerial photos of Icelandic farms in the database, made a surprise appearance. And finally, three Snorri Program alumni who now volunteer for IR, Erin Jones and Julie Summers of Reykjavík and Natalie Guttormsson of Saskatchewan, talked about the strong reciprocal relationship between IR and Snorri. Julie is on IR’s translation team, Erin is involved with social media, and Natalie created the IR website along with yet another Snorri alum, Matt Gaudet of Edmonton.
On Sunday afternoon, after the official convention program ended, IR hosted a free intensive seminar for over 80 attendees. The volunteer team demonstrated how to use the database, shared some helpful tips and tricks, and introduced exciting new features. All attendees were given free access to explore the database for the duration of the seminar, with 14 volunteers available to assist. Sunna said attendees had a wonderful time exploring their heritage through family trees, emigration information, photos, maps, the new cousins feature, and more: “The excitement was palpable, and at one point I think I even said, ‘This is like a room full of kindergarteners!’ That made everyone laugh because they knew it was true!” Many people identified information missing from the database and were instructed as to how to submit updated information. IR provided refreshments for the budding genealogists, and there were even door prizes, including a sturdy carry-on suitcase with the IR logo, which was won by Ainsley Bloomer of Winnipeg.
The entire IR team extends warm thanks to the Icelandic Canadian Frón for hosting the convention as well as to everyone who attended the presentation and the free seminar. To learn more, please visit icelandicroots.com.