Federation of Danish Associations in Canada Conference and Seminars 2024

Federation of Danish Associations in Canada Conference and Seminars 2024


Danish Canadian Conference in Toronto, May 23-26, 2024

The theme of the 2024 Danish Canadian Conference was TORONTO THE MEETING PLACE. To address the theme historian Harley Karulis, who  works as a writer and Toronto tour guide, came Friday at lunch and gave a captivating talk about historic Toronto meeting places. The 2024 Heritage Book too includes several articles about Toronto meeting places, where Danes used to meet or still meet today.

The Conference began Thursday evening with a Welcome Reception at the Novotel, where Sune Overgaard, president of the Danish Lutheran Church of Toronto, bid everyone welcome. Danish Ambassador Hanne Fugl Eskjær spoke about her time in Canada, highlighting the agreement regarding Hans Island. The presidents of the Federation and the Museum also took the floor.

Friday morning the Danish Canadian Museum held its Annual General Meeting. In the evening the Museum gave an informative presentation about the needed expansion of the Museum, which was followed by Viking entertainment, desserts, a raffle and a live auction.

Saturday morning a bus took the delegates to Arla Foods, the Danish cheese factory on Rivermede Road, where they had a chance to see how  the various cheeses are made. The bus then headed to the Danish Church  were lunch was served, followed by a presentation about the Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk by Danish Consul General Karina Bech. This was followed by a presentation by Lena Moore about the centennial of Pass Lake, Ontario, which was founded as a Danish colony in 1924.

In the afternoon the Danish Federation held its Annual General Meeting, chaired by Ed Kuhlman, who also edited the 2024 Heritage  Book. The voting delegates presented their Club Reports, Danish Federation treasurer Sune Overgaard presented the Financial Report. Lisa Olsen gave the Secretary s Report, and took the Minutes of the  Meeting. Svend E. Nielsen chaired the election, where Rolf  Christensen, Ed Kuhlman, Lisa Olsen and Sune Overgaard were elected respectively president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer.

Saturday evening a dinner/dance was held in the Gibson Ballroom at the  Novotel. Entertainment was provided by the Danish Folk Dancers and the Neil Chapman Rock N Roll band. Next morning the delegates could sleep in. The Church Service by Pastor Kirstine Rasmussen was at 10:30 am, followed at noon by Danish sandwiches, beer and snaps in the Church Hall. In closing Sune handed over the Danish Federation Fane and Mailbox to Gus Rasmussen of the Sharon Danish Lutheran Church of Calgary, who will be hosting the 2025 Conference. Rolf Christensen then thanked Sune Overgaard, Gerda Andersen, Susanne Truelsen and Pastor Kirstine Rasmussen for organizing a superb conference. He thanked the delegates for coming and said he hoped to see them all next year in Calgary.

Rolf Buschardt Christensen
National President, Federation of Danish Associations in Canada


Danish Heritage Seminar, Niagara Falls

Our Headmaster at the Danish Heritage Seminar in Niagara Falls, Pastor Simon Kangas Larsen, had chosen Danish Fingerprints as the theme for the Seminar, focusing on how Danes have left their mark on Canada in various ways. Pastor Simon, minister at Langenæs Church in Aarhus, is the past minister of the Danish congregation in Toronto, so he enjoyed seeing old friends and meeting the eighteen Seminar participants who came from Halifax, Vancouver Island, Houston, Texas and points in between. The Seminar was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Niagara Falls from Monday afternoon, May 27 to Friday morning, May 31, 2024.

After going around the table so everyone could introduce themselves, Pastor Simon showed the PowerPoint presentation he has often shown to congregations in Denmark. It plainly revealed exactly what he tells people in Denmark about Canada and Danish Canadians. This was followed by a discussion about what the Seminar participants tell people in Denmark about Canada. Often it was to emphasize the vastness of Canada. Then after a break and dinner, Pastor Simon, playing his guitar, led in singing songs from Højskolesangbogen, the popular Danish Folk School songbook.

Tuesday morning we were introduced to King Frederik X’s recent book KONGEORD (valgsprog) or motto, in which he explains his motto: Forbundne, forpligtet, for kongeriget Danmark (Connected, committed, for the Kingdom of Denmark). The group also noticed how Canada was mentioned in the book, including Jens Munk and Knud Rasmussen, and Danish immigrants in general. The participants also remarked on the various differences between the former Queen and King Frederik. For instance, Queen Margrethe had a keen interest in painting and ballet, while King Frederik is strongly interested in sports. When Pastor Simon asked the participants if they preferred a monarchy or a republic, the group had no doubt that they strongly preferred a monarchy in both Denmark and Canada.

Tuesday afternoon we saw the recent Danish film “The Promised Land”, starring Mads Mikkelsen, about the first so-called Potato Germans coming to Jutland to cultivate the heath. Afterwards there was a good discussion, but divided opinions, about this powerful movie, which had been nominated for several awards. Late Tuesday afternoon Pastor Kirstine Rasmussen of the Danish Church in Toronto came and spoke about Folk Schools outside Denmark. In the evening she led the group in singing Danish songs.

Wednesday morning Prof. Michael Böss in Denmark gave a presentation by Zoom about the Vikings and L’Anse aux Meadows as well as about Jens Haven from Thy and his settlements in Labrador. The participants then had the rest of the day off, exploring on their own the Niagara region.

Thursday morning Susanne Truelsen gave a talk about Novo Nordisk, the biggest pharmaceutical company in Denmark, which in a way started in Toronto when Frederick Banting, a Canadian surgeon and Charles Best, a medical student, successfully isolated the hormone insulin for the first time. Susanne is a project management leader working in Ontario’s digital health sector. She then conducted a survey in the classroom about Danish companies in Canada, which revealed a surprising number of Danish companies operating in Canada. Susanne and Simon then introduced Jacob Bay Lindkvist, the Deputy at the Danish Embassy. Jacob spoke about Danish Canadian relations and about efforts to promote trade and investments. He too mentioned Novo Nordisk.

After lunch the participants broke into groups to discuss the various topics of the week. After a coffee break the groups reported on their views and impressions. Then in the evening the Seminar held its Goodbye Party with a plated dinner and entertainment by the participants. Vibeke Sandberg and Randi Turner had decorated the round tables. Anne Lise Pedersen paid for the host bar which was brought in. Anne Marie Jorgensen from Dartmouth and Bridget Lois Jensen from Houston were in charge of the entertainment and ensured a fun evening with line dancing, a skit, jokes and singing. One of the songs had been written within a day or two by Liselotte Ostergaard and her sister Susanne Farncombe. As requested, the participants had brought a wealth of items for a lottery, which meant there were many winners. A last song ended the most enjoyable party. Rolf Christensen, the seminar registrar, then thanked Pastor Simon for organizing an interesting and timely Seminar which focussed on the Danes in Canada, not just in the past, but in the present. In conclusion he thanked the participants for coming and for their many contributions, lastly wishing them a safe trip home. The final goodbye was said Friday morning at breakfast, which was provided on the 13th floor of the Sheraton Hotel overlooking the Falls.

Rolf Buschardt Christensen
National President, Federation of Danish Associations in Canada