Vikings on a Prairie Ocean tells Icelandic saga in Manitoba
I was able to show how it connected to my career, with some of these complex cases I've been involved with.- Glenn Sigurdson
He is one of Canada's most well known conflict resolution lawyers who has spent his career building relationships and resolving dispute.
Glenn Sigurdson is also a fifth generation Sigurdson from Riverton, Man. And he's written a book about the history of the Icelandic people.
Vikings on a Prairie Ocean includes the history of Lake Winnipeg, the Icelandic community, and the relationships with aboriginal groups. It's told from an auto-biographical perspective.
Sigurdson says the Vikings originally established a settlement around the year 1000 but it was eight centuries later that they made their permanent stop in Gimli, Man..
"By then they'd become peasant farmers," he said. "They had lived under Colonial rule and were looking for a new beginning. They were eventually able to secure an Icelandic reserve and build a life and community here in Manitoba."
The settlers faced enormous challenges - from starvation to small pox. It was the fishing industry that saved them.
"They were a part of that and building a sustainable future for themselves in a community that is such an important part of Manitoba today," he explained.
Sigurdson says he wanted to breathe life back into these important pioneers of Manitoba.
"It was that that drove me to write the book," he recalled. "I'm often on airplanes and my memories became movies of the mind. I started playing with the characters."
He realized that the fundamental strength of the values and approaches he takes with his work were a direct result of his experience with the Icelandic world.
"I started to pen these small portraits," Sigurdson continued. "And they began to take on a life of their own. My mother and father personified Lake Winnipeg."
Sigurdson ended up writing himself into the story, after numerous people suggested he take that approach.
"I was able to show how it connected to my career, with some of these complex cases I've been involved with."
The launch of Vikings on a Prairie Ocean (Great Plains Productions) is Thursday May 29 at 7 p.m.at McNally Robinson Books.