Brazilian ‘South Icelanders’ Seek Roots in Old Country

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Brazilian ‘South Icelanders’ Seek Roots in Old Country

Descendants of Icelanders who moved to Brazil in the latter part of the 19th century are interested in seeking their roots in the land of their ancestors and are working on establishing sister town relations with Akureyri in North Iceland.

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Akureyri. Photo: Páll Stefánsson/Iceland Review.

Today, hundreds of Icelandic-Brazilians are believed to live in Brazil. Mario Reikdal Dos Santos is the chair of AISBRA, the country’s Icelandic Association. His maternal grandfather was of Icelandic origin, Fréttablaðið reports.

“My granddad’s name was Karl Magnús Albertsson. He was born in Brazil but his parents were Icelandic immigrants. He later adopted the surname Reikdal because they came from Reykjadalur,” said Dos Santos.

He added that he has always been conscious of his origins. “I treasure a memory from when I was five or six. My siblings and I were seated in bed with our mother who showed us a copy of the National Geographic, telling us about the land of fire and ice. She said this is where we had our roots and retold stories that her grandparents had told her.”

Dos Santos has visited Iceland on three occasions, for the first time in 1997, and stated that he is the first Icelandic-Brazilian to do so. “I’m not very emotional but when I opened a book about the history of Iceland by Jón Hjálmarsson in a bookstore and looked up the chapter on Icelandic emigration to Brazil, I started crying. It touched me deeply.”

Most Icelanders who emigrated to Brazil came from North Iceland. They set sail from Akureyri and settled in Curbita in South Brazil. Therefore AISBRA would now like to establish sister town relations with Akureyri.

Both local authorities have agreed but Mayor of Akureyri Eiríkur Björgvinsson said certain formalities have to be taken care of first. “It’s a pleasing development and hopefully we can establish increased relations because this 150-year-old history is very interesting.”

ESA