Danish Heritage Seminars

The Danish Heritage Seminar, which the Danish Federation organizes every year, is a five day educational, inspiring and fun-filled course about Danish culture and history. There are also lectures on Canadian and international topics, as well as activities such as singing, dancing and films.

An important aspect of the course is the friendship that quickly develops among the participants from across Canada. Danes and Americans have also participated. The lectures and films are all in English, while songs are mostly in Danish.

The Danish Heritage Seminar is modelled on the residential Folk High Schools in Denmark, which were created in the 19th century, based on the ideas of N.F.S. Grundtvig and Christen Kold. 

Danish Fingerprints Heritage Seminar

May 27-31, 2024

​Niagara Falls

Report on The Danish Heritage Seminar, Niagara Falls, 2024

Our Headmaster at the Danish Heritage Seminar in Niagara Falls, Pastor Simon Kangas Larsen, had chosen Danish Fingerprints as the theme for 
the Seminar, focusing on how Danes have left their mark on Canada in various ways. Pastor Simon, minister at Langenæs Church in Aarhus, is 
the past minister of the Danish congregation in Toronto, so he enjoyed seeing old friends and meeting the eighteen Seminar participants who 
came from Halifax, Vancouver Island, Houston, Texas and points in between. The Seminar was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Niagara 
Falls from Monday afternoon, May 27 to Friday morning, May 31, 2024.

After going around the table so everyone could introduce themselves, Pastor Simon showed the PowerPoint presentation he has often shown to 
congregations in Denmark. It plainly revealed exactly what he tells 
people in Denmark about Canada and Danish Canadians. This was followed 
by a discussion about what the Seminar participants tell people in Denmark about Canada. Often it was to emphasize the vastness of 
Canada. Then after a break and dinner, Pastor Simon, playing his guitar, led in singing songs from Højskolesangbogen, the popular 
Danish Folk School songbook.

Tuesday morning we were introduced to King Frederik X?s recent book KONGEORD (valgsprog) or motto, in which he explains his motto: 
Forbundne, forpligtet, for kongeriget Danmark (Connected, committed, for the Kingdom of Denmark). The group also noticed how Canada was 
mentioned in the book, including Jens Munk and Knud Rasmussen, and Danish immigrants in general. The participants also remarked on the 
various differences between the former Queen and King Frederik. For instance, Queen Margrethe had a keen interest in painting and ballet, 
while King Frederik is strongly interested in sports. When Pastor Simon asked the participants if they preferred a monarchy or a 
republic, the group had no doubt that they strongly preferred a monarchy in both Denmark and Canada.

Tuesday afternoon we saw the recent Danish film ?The Promised Land?, starring Mads Mikkelsen, about the first so-called Potato Germans 
coming to Jutland to cultivate the heath. Afterwards there was a good discussion, but divided opinions, about this powerful movie, which had 
been nominated for several awards. Late Tuesday afternoon Pastor Kirstine Rasmussen of the Danish Church in Toronto came and spoke 
about Folk Schools outside Denmark. In the evening she led the group in singing Danish songs.

Wednesday morning Prof. Michael Böss in Denmark gave a presentation by Zoom about the Vikings and L?Anse aux Meadows as well as about Jens 
Haven from Thy and his settlements in Labrador. The participants then had the rest of the day off, exploring on their own the Niagara region.

Thursday morning Susanne Truelsen gave a talk about Novo Nordisk, the biggest pharmaceutical company in Denmark, which in a way started in 
Toronto when Frederick Banting, a Canadian surgeon and Charles Best, a medical student, successfully isolated the hormone insulin for the 
first time. Susanne is a project management leader working in Ontario's digital health sector. She then conducted a survey in the 
classroom about Danish companies in Canada, which revealed a surprising number of Danish companies operating in Canada. Susanne and 
Simon then introduced  Jacob Bay Lindkvist, the Deputy at the Danish Embassy. Jacob spoke about Danish Canadian relations and about efforts 
to promote trade and investments. He too mentioned Novo Nordisk.

After lunch the participants broke into groups to discuss the various topics of the week. After a coffee break the groups reported on their 
views and impressions. Then in the evening the Seminar held its Goodbye Party with a plated dinner and entertainment by the 
participants. Vibeke Sandberg and Randi Turner had decorated the round tables. Anne Lise Pedersen paid for the host bar which was brought in. 
Anne Marie Jorgensen from Dartmouth and Bridget Lois Jensen from Houston were in charge of the entertainment and ensured a fun evening 
with line dancing, a skit, jokes and singing. One of the songs had been written within a day or two by Liselotte Ostergaard and her 
sister Susanne Farncombe. As requested, the participants had brought a wealth of items for a lottery, which meant there were many winners. A 
last song ended the most enjoyable party. Rolf Christensen, the seminar registrar, then thanked Pastor Simon for organizing an 
interesting and timely Seminar which focussed on the Danes in Canada, not just in the past, but in the present. In conclusion he thanked the 
participants for coming and for their many contributions, lastly wishing them a safe trip home. The final goodbye was said Friday 
morning at breakfast, which was provided on the 13th floor of the Sheraton Hotel overlooking the Falls.

Rolf Buschardt Christensen