Canada and Iceland celebrate 75 years of diplomatic ties with book exchange in Whitehorse

Canada and Iceland marked 75 years of diplomatic ties with book exchange and reading in Whitehorse.

A similar book collection will be gifted to Nunavut and N.W.T.

Book collection
Iceland and Canada are celebrating 75 years of diplomatic relations. To commemorate, the two countries are participating in a book exchange. Representatives of Iceland gifted books to the Whitehorse Public Library on Wed. June 29. (Sissi De Flaviis/CBC)

To commemorate 75 years of diplomatic relations, Canada and Iceland are doing a book exchange.

Yesterday afternoon, Lilja Dögg Alfreðsdóttir, Iceland's minister of culture and business affairs, and Richard Mostyn, Yukon's minister of community services presided over the handover of a collection of Icelandic books at the Whitehorse Public Library. The books were gifted by the Embassy of Iceland located in Ottawa.

Gifting books is a big part of Icelandic culture. It's a tradition that dates back to the 13th century, according to Alfreðsdóttir.

"For Iceland, books are extremely important," she said.

Alfreðsdóttir said books are significant to keep alive the Icelandic culture, tradition and language.

"It's great that we are able to celebrate with the exchange of knowledge."

This Yukon public library book exchange is part of several happenings between the two countries this year.

Yukon’s Minister of Community Services, Richard Mostyn, and the Icelandic minister of Culture and Business Affairs, Lilja Dögg Alfreðsdóttir, read a children’s book to a group of children. (Sissi De Flaviis/CBC)

Iceland representatives are also visiting Nunavut and the Northwest Territories later this summer to give a similar book collection. The Canadian ambassador to Iceland, Jeannette Menzies, is gifting books by Canadian authors to public libraries in Akureyri and Reykjavik in northern Iceland.

Hlynur Guðjónsson, the Icelandic ambassador to Canada, was present during the Yukon book handover.

Guðjónsson said this book exchange is meaningful for the embassy, and the relationship between the two countries, since there were about 101,800 people of Icelandic descent in Canada, according to the 2016 census.

"We share literature, we share culture and common interests and strongly believe in democracy and sovereignty, so it's quite meaningful as a celebration," he said.

As part of the Whitehorse gift exchange and the Arctic Arts Summit, both ministers Alfreðsdóttir and Mostyn read an Icelandic children's book, A Puffin Called Fido, to a group of pre-school-aged children.


  • An earlier version of this story reported that Hlynur Guðjónsson is Canadian ambassador to Iceland. In fact, Guðjónsson is the Icelandic ambassador to Canada.
    Jul 04, 2022 12:44 PM CT
  • Lilja Dögg Alfreðsdóttir, Iceland's minister of culture and business affairs, presided over the handover of the book exchange in the Yukon. An earlier version suggested she was gifting the books. In fact, the books were gifted by the Embassy of Iceland in Ottawa, just as the Embassy of Canada in Iceland will be gifting books to libraries in Iceland.
    Jul 04, 2022 12:44 PM CT


Sissi De Flaviis


Sissi De Flaviis is a Venezuelan-born reporter/editor for CBC News in Whitehorse, Yukon. She previously worked at CBC Ottawa. Contact her at