November 16, 2015

2013 – AoM

The following SCA Awards of Merit were presented
at the meeting of the Duluth Swedish Cultural Society in Duluth, Minnesota
on Sunday, April 21, 2013.

Ebba Brooks, Duluth, MN

Ebba Brooks was President of the Swedish Cultural Society of Duluth for two different terms. She also served as a board member until 2006. Ebba was chair of the kitchen committee for the Midsommar Fest when it started in 1998. Ebba and her late husband, Chester Brooks, were very much involved in the planning of activities and worked at Midsommar and Sankta Lucia celebrations. She and Chester were early members of the Duluth Sister Cities organization and participated in their many activities. She was part of a groups, Svenska Flickorna, who met for lunch monthly to study Swedish. She has been a gracious hostess for many lunches and dinners with Swedish and Swedish-American guests. Chester and Ebba also provided overnight accommodations for many of our Swedish visitors. She was and is truly devoted to promoting Swedish language and culture in the Duluth/Superior area.

Shirley Graham, Duluth, MN

Shirley Graham was President of the Swedish Cultural Society of Duluth from for 18 years, from 1994-2012. During her presidency the following were accomplished:

  • December 1997 – the first Sankta Lucia celebration was held at the Holiday Inn
  • September 1999 – Svenska Sangårna met for the first time..
  • September 1999 – endowment fund established for scholarships
  • 2002 purchased new song books
  • October 2004 held 70th anniversary of the Swedish Cultural Society at the Kitchi Gammi Club
  • October 23, 2009 held 75th anniversary of the Swedish Cultural Society at the Kitchi Gammi Club.

Shirley was deeply involved in the organization of each of the above activities as well as making contacts with possible entertainers. Shirley grew up hearing and speaking Swedish, so she was always making the connections that led to excellent programs for the Swedish Cultural Society. She took on the responsibility of contacting the venues for all of our meetings whether it be Gloria Dei, Kitchi Gammi, or the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd. Her home was always open to hosting guest entertainers and speakers as well as hosting board meetings. She enjoyed what she did and it showed in the enthusiasm she showed during all of the activities.

In addition Shirley served as President of the Duluth Sister Cities organization at one point and traveled to our Sister City of Växjö at least two times as part of the Duluth delegation. She was part of a group, the Svenska Flickorna, who met for lunch monthly to study Swedish. Shirley has attended the Swedish language camp sponsored by Concordia College in Bemidji, MN. At every chance, she has taken the opportunity to promote Swedish language and culture.

The following SCA Awards of Merit were presented
at the SCA Awards Banquet held at Inn at the Fork, Winnipeg, Manitoba
on Friday, October 8, 2013.

Ellen Boryen, Winnipeg, MB

Ellen moved to Winnipeg 20 years ago when she immediately joined Swedish Cultural Association where she remains a volunteer. She is a member of Vasa Order of America. Her many accomplishments include helping organize the Lucia Pageant at Scandinavian Cultural Centre for nearly two decades; starting the Sill-I Tones, a Nordic folk band as SCC; founded Swedish Book Club in Winnipeg; working as a Swedish language teacher through ConEd, Winnipeg; writing as the Winnipeg Representative for Swedish Press and Scandinavian Press. She is also the Past President and Publishing Editor of Viking Times.

Mari Linde Clovechok, Winnipeg, MB

Mari was born in Uppsala, Uppland. She is currently a board member and former treasurer of Swedish Cultural Association in Winnipeg. She remains a volunteer with Lucia Pageant, Folkorama, Julfest and other projects for many years. Perhaps most importantly, she is described by her many friends as “a pure Swede – very efficient and very, very kind”.

Lena Cox, Winnipeg, MB

Lena was born in Alingsås, Västra Götaland. She moved to Canada 20 years ago to be with her Canadian husband. She is a Trained Occupational Therapist. When first in Canada, Lena joined SWEA in Toronto, where she also helped at the Swedish School. She is a hard-working member of Swedish Cultural Association in Winnipeg. She has promoted Swedish Culture through organizing Lucia, Sveriges Nationaldag and other events and she coordinates Swedish presence at Folklorama, Winnipeg’s multicultural celebration. She has been instrumental in reviving Ärtsoppakvällar, Semladag, Advent Allsång and Vaffeldag.

Elaine Friesen, Winnipeg, MB

All four of Elaine’s grandparents immigrated to Canada: two from Hälsingland and two from Dalarna. From them, she inherited a keen interest in Sweden from early age. Elaine has volunteered at the Swedish Pavilion atFolklorama since a young teenager. In 1980, she spent three months traveling the entirety of Sweden, visiting her many relatives. She is her family’s genealogist and “the glue” that connects them to Sweden. Has traced family tree back to the 1600’s. Among her frequent volunteer tasks in the local Swedish community, she is a board member of Swedish Cultural Association, Vasalund Estates and the Swedish Canadian Home for Senior Citizens. She is also a member of VOA Lodge Strindberg, #259.

Carol Simonson Gunvaldson, Winnipeg, MB

Carol learned to appreciate her Swedish roots while dancing with her grand father at Winnipeg’s Vasa Lund. She has been involved in Winnipeg’s international cultural outreach celebration, Folklorama, for two decades, where she presents Swedish culture. Carol proudly wears here Jämtland folkdräkt whenever appropriate, including while singing in the Scandinavian Choir and the Scandinavian Fun Folk Dancers. She is a member of VOA Strindberg Lodge #259; former board member and treasurer. Professionally Carol is a agricultural economist and statistician for governments of Canada and Manitoba and she completed her MSc degree in 2012. She only recently started learning to play the nyckeharpa.

Brian Johnson, Winnipeg, MB

With a mother born in Sweden and reared in Canada, Brian was destined to follow his Swedish roots. He joined VOA Lodge Strindberg, #259, in 1976 where he held several positions, his favorite of which was Cultural Leader, where he led excursions to Valhalla, ND, for lutfisk dinners and to the Manitoba Sami Museum and Reindeer Farm. By serving on several of the lodge’s committee, Brian got to meet and become personal friends with many in the Swedish community, including many visitors from Sweden. As secretary for Lodge Strindberg and the District Lodge for Central Canada, he was able to get to know many Grand Lodge Executive Committee members from across Canada and the United States.
His involvement in VOA afforded him the opportunity to visit the Vasa Archives in Bishop Hill, tour the Bishop Hill site and attend services at the Jenny Lind Chapel, as well as to meet Their Majesties, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Sylvia during their visit to Winnipeg. Brian has also volunteered for the Swedish Pavilion at Folklorama and the Scandinavian Centre’s Viking School, which allowed whim to show off Swedish culture to others.

Gunvor Larsson, Winnipeg, MB

In 1958, Gunvor arrived in Winnipeg from Sweden. Shortly thereafter, she joined S:t Mark’s Lutheran Church, Winnipeg’s Swedish congregation, where she later served as board member. In 1963, she joined VOA Lodge Strindberg, #259, where she has been involved in leading many activities including children’s song and dance group and cultural resource person. Over the years, she taught Swedish language and crafts, both at home and at groups. Gunvor was involved in forming Folklorama at Vasalund in 1971, where she was Mayor of the Swedish Pavilion in 1984. In 1975, she started Scandinavian Folk Dance Group where she remained active until 1980.

Sonja Lundstrom, Winnipeg, MB

Like her parents and grandparents before here, Sonja is a member of VOA Lodge Strindberg, #259. She is also on the Lodge’s 100th Anniversary Planning Committee. Over the years, Sonja has hosted and billeted many Swedish dancers, pastors, professors and students from Umeå Universitet for many years. She is currently president of the Swedish Cultural Association of Manitoba where under her leadership they have initiated new programming that has increased membership and interest in the club. She is also involved in Coffee Club evenings, Kubb game nights, Swedish Flag Day celebrations, Lucia Pageant, Folklorama, and Swedish movie nights. She serves as a board member of the Scandinavian Centre and assists in local school program, “Everyone Wants to be a Viking”, bringing the historical and cultural experience to youth.

Mary Ringstrom, Winnipeg, MB

Perhaps the most modest of the 2013 Award of Merit recipients, Mary says that “my only contribution to the Swedish community has been to make a few bowls of rice pudding now and then”. Her many friends disagree! She is described as working “tirelessly at the Scandinavian Centre for the Swedish Cultural Associate for the past 18 years” and being the go-to expert when making food for Folklorama, Sunday brunches and holiday events. Most especially, Mary takes pride in assisting those with disabilities so they, too, can participate in events.

Bertha Anderson Risbey, Winnipeg, MB

Bertha was born in Elie, Manitoba, to parents both of whom had emigrated from Sweden. In their home as she was growing up, they celebrated all the traditional Swedish holidays in the home, which she carries on in her adult life. In 1985 she traveled back to visit her father’s relatives in Småland. She calls this experience “finding my roots!” Later, by joining the Strindberg Sisters and the Scandinavian Centre, her interest is all things Swedish grew even more. She has served for 20 years on the board of directors of the Swedish Canadian Home for Senior Citizens, including 12 years as treasurer. To this day, Bertha thanks her parents for instilling her love of Sweden in her.

Theodore Stuart Simonson, Winnipeg, MB

Ted’s parents, Martha and Nils, emigrated from Västergötland in 1928 and settled immediately in Winnipeg. In 1951, he became land surveyor for Government of Manitoba, his life-long career. A few years later, he married Elizabeth Joy and together they had four children. Over four decades he has been member of VOA Lodge Strindberg, #259, where he also served as chairman and treasurer. In addition, he served for 15 years as chairman of District Lodge #16 and was Canada’s representative to the VOA Grand Lodge for several years. Ted also served two years on the Swedish Council of America’s Board of Directors. His other civic duties include serving for many years on Vasa Lund Park board, including chairman for three years; serving as a member of Swedish Canadian Home for Senior Citizens board for extended period. His other memberships include Swedish Club at Scandinavian Centre, Winnipeg’s Folklorama Swedish Pavilion, and the Swedish Canadian Curling Club in 1970s and 1980s.

Ruth Sjoberg, Winnipeg, MB

Ruth is a first generation Canadian with parents immigrating from Sweden and Norway. Thirty years ago played a leading role in creating Winnipeg’s cultural celebration, Folklorama, where she also helped create to the Swedish exhibits, including items for sale and displays. Ruth’s garden provides the flowers for the majstång at the Winnipeg Midsommar festival. She bakes rosettes and pies and buns for sale at bake sales and she often hosts visiting Swedish groups, including on that studies wolves in northern Manitoba. Hard working and generous of spirit, her entire life has been committed to the local Swedish community.

Jacobus (Coby) Wantzing, Winnipeg, MB

Coby has been a valued member of the local Swedish community for over 30 years, beginning as a volunteer on the Folkolrama’s executive committee. He is perhaps best known for portraying the impish yet fun-loving Viking for the Swedish Dance Group’s annual fundraising event, Viking Feast. Along the fun-loving vein, he also created a new Swedish dialect of Swedish, “Geordie”, when helping out at Swedish language classes. He has served on the Building Committee of Vasa Lund Estates and the community’s newest project, Vasa Lund Place, and he currently serves as president of the Swedish Canadian Home for Senior Citizens. Coby is a member of VOA Lodge Strindgerg, #259, and is president of Sylvia Recreational, Co. Ltd., the umbrella organization for the Swedish community in Winnipeg.

Judith (Judy) Wantzing, Winnipeg, MB

Judy has been a major contributor to the Winnipeg Swedish community for over thirty years and continues to hold significant positions in an executive capacity. She began her involvement through the Swedish Organization’s dance group as it performed at Folklorama, where she later served in leadership positions. Later she joined VOA Lodge Strindberg, #259, where she is currently sitting as vice-chair. Also currently serving as president and chair of the Strindberg Sisters, a major shareholder in Winnipeg’s Swedish community umbrella organizations, Sylvia Recreational Co. Ltd. She aws instrumental in planting the seed for the land development project that became Vase Lund Estates, where she is on the board of directors and the building committee whose current project is Vasa Lund Place. Ruth is current treasurer of Swedish Canadian Home for Senior Citizens and acts as tenant relations liaison.

Darlene Wedge, Winnipeg, MB

Darlene grew up being called “my little Svenska flicka” by her great uncle, which instilled her sense of Swedishness to this day. She attended Swedish functions at Vasa Lund as a child, especially enjoying the dancing. As an adult, she joined VOA Lodge Strindberg # 259 in 2005, where she now serves as secretary. She is a member of the planning committee of the centennial celebration of  Lodge Strindberg, the first VOA lodge in Canada and she is a board member of Swedish Canadian Home for Senior Citizens. She also currently serves as treasurer of Swedish Cultural Association.


Awards Of Merit