Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson opened an Icelandic consulate in Curitiba, Brazil, during his official visit there last week, appointing Magnús Ólason as the Icelandic consul in the city.
In his speech, Gunnar Bragi traced the history of Icelandic immigrants to Brazil in the 19th century, most of whom settled in the Curitiba region. He stated that the interest of Icelanders in learning more about the Icelandic Brazilians had increased in recent years.
The minister presented Curitiba inhabitants of Icelandic descent a copy of Sigursteinn Másson’s documentary about the Icelandic immigrants to Brazil and a letter from the association Þjóðræknisfélag Íslands, wishing to reinforce relations.
Young Brazilians of Icelandic descent were encouraged to take advantage of the project Snorraverkefni, which aims to enable them to visit Iceland and learn about their origins.
Gunnar Bragi also visited 99-year-old Nanna Söhndal, the last living descendant of the first-generation of Icelandic immigrants to Brazil. Her father, Magnús Árnason Söhndal, moved to Brazil with his parents when he was eight from the farm Ljótsstaðir in Sunnudalur, Vopnafjörður in 1873.
Nanna is a physician by education and was the third woman to practice medicine in Curitiba. She efficiently worked towards reinforcing relations between Icelandic Brazilians and Icelanders with her nephew Maro R. Söndahl, who served as consul to Iceland in Curitiba until he died in 2005.
Last year, Curitiba and Akureyri in North Iceland, where many of the immigrants to Brazil came from, decided to establish twin-town relations.