Jon Sigurdsson Chapter IODE
The Jon Sigurdsson Chapter IODE is a collective of women who have made an impact in the development of Manitoba over the past 105 years. It is a part of a larger women’s charitable organization, IODE Canada, that is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for individuals through education support, community service and citizenship programs.
As service organizations folded, the Jon Sigurdsson Chapter, which had its inaugural meeting in 1916, remains the only chapter left in Winnipeg of the 48 original chapters.
The present vibrancy and longevity of the organization can be attributed to the strong role models of the many women who forged its history. As well, the chapter has been flexible to change as the organization modernized.
In 1916, the membership of the Jon Sigurdsson Chapter was made up of Icelandic immigrant women, who wanted to contribute to Canadian society in a substantive way by supporting the home front during World War I, the mission of IODE at that time. The women volunteered in the war effort by providing assistance to the women and children left behind by sending letters, goods and clothing to the soldiers in Europe and raising funds to help service members’ families when the soldiers returned.
In the aftermath of the world wars, the Jon Sigurdsson Chapter published two landmark memorial books recording the short biographies of over 3000 World War I and World War II veterans of Icelandic descent in North America. Today, these books have been digitized at the University of Manitoba where they are widely used for research. Also, the chapter supported the first Canadian Field of Honour which was established during World War I at Brookside Cemetery in Winnipeg through the efforts of IODE.
Collectively, these IODE women have volunteered to make an enormous impact on thousands of Manitobans. Since 1936, the Chapter has awarded over 550 post-secondary scholarships to Manitoba students. Thousands have benefited from their service work with veterans and their families and by supporting inner city schools, northern programs, as well as homeless shelters. Members have knitted countless hats, scarves and mitts, donated African djembe drums to an immigrant after-school program, made weighted vests for special needs children and collected books for inner city youth. Through their citizenship program, they have welcomed new Canadians, honoured exemplary citizens and recognized our veterans on Remembrance Day. Although the membership has become ethnically diverse, it continues its Icelandic connection by annually celebrating Jon Sigurdsson Day on June 17 at the Jon Sigurdsson Statue at the Manitoba Legislative grounds.
In 2010, the Jon Sigurdsson Chapter received the Mayor’s Volunteer Service Award from then-mayor Samuel Katz.
In celebration of its 1916 Centennial year, the Jon Sigurdsson Chapter raised $10,000 for the new Children’s Rehabilitation Centre. That same year Mayor Brian Bowman presented the Chapter with a Community Service Award to honour its work over the past 100 years.
As it continues to support the community, the Jon Sigurdsson Chapter IODE looks forward to a new decade and the many that will follow.