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Moose-ipalities reach moose compromise

Moose Jaw and Stor-Elvdal, Norway reach a moose truce. Moose Jaw plans to continue with plans to make Mac the largest moose statue in the world and each community will have a day to celebrate the other nation.

Moose Jaw and Stor-Elvdal, Norway have reached a moose truce.

Moose Jaw Mayor Fraser Tolmie and Stor-Elvdal Deputy Mayor Linda Otnes Henriksen signed a “moosarandum of understanding” Wednesday.

The document states in part that “the Moose-ipalities agree that the moose statue named ‘Storelgen’ located in Stor-Elvdal, Norway will forevermore be known as the shiniest and most attractive moose in the world” and “the Moose-ipalities agree that the moose statue named ‘Mac the Moose’ located in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada will reclaim the title as World’s Tallest Moose.”

“When this first started we were strangers to each other,” Otnes Henriksen said. “We saw each other on the TV screen. We heard quotes from media, but when you have an open mind and you reach out to someone and they reach out to you back, you can make a good positive relationship. That’s one of the best things that has come out of this — the friendship I’ve gotten with Mayor Tolmie and a lot of other people here in Moose Jaw.”

Otnes Henriksen has spent five days in the city and said that going up in a Harvard jet and touring 15 Wing Moose Jaw was a highlight, as was being present for the Prism Awards on Saturday.

“This past week has just been amazing and it has meant a whole lot to me,” Otnes Henriksen said. “I want to thank the people of Moose Jaw and Mayor Tolmie and all of the council members that I have met and everyone who has made my stay here absolutely fabulous. I have no words to describe how welcoming everyone has been to me. Being here and exploring Moose Jaw has been really great and you really have something to be proud of. The friendliness of everyone has been just wonderful.

“I’m going back with some great memories and I feel really lucky to be have been able to make the trip over here and be a part of this whole moose truce and moose war.”

The moose war grabbed international headline and sparked a good-natured feud between the two communities and their countries. Otnes Henriksen felt the levity that the moose war provided helped capture people’s attention.

“I think this is a funny, happy story. It’s two nations fighting over something as strange as having the world’s biggest moose. Who would have thought?” she said.

Mac the Moose was the largest moose statue in the world when it was completed in 1984 and stands 32 feet tall. Storelgen was completed in 2015 and is 34 feet tall.

Moosehead Brewery donated $25,000 towards getting Mac his title back and the Go Fund Me campaign had surpassed $14,000.

“We are doing the right things. It’s in good hands with the tourist board,” said Mayor Tolmie when asked about plans for increasing Mac’s size. “Mac is getting evaluated. The engineers are looking at him. We have to look at what his lifespan is going to be. We’re being realistic with this. We want to ensure that we’re spending the money that has been donated in a proper way. If there is a short lifespan then we’re going to look at other options. We’ve got an understanding that we will be pursuing and reclaiming the crown as the world’s tallest moose and that’s acceptable between both communities.”

In addition, May 17 will annually be known as Norway Day in Moose Jaw to celebrate all things Norwegian. The date marks the signing of the Norwegian constitution in 1814.

Tolmie said plans are already underway for that celebration.

Stor-Elvdal will celebrate Canada Day annually on October 15.

“I know Canada Day is on July 1 and that is when our summer holiday is on, so doing anything on that day is a little bit tricky. We wanted to do it right, so we chose that day because that is when Storelgen was put up, so we’ll celebrate the day where we stole the record,” Otnes Henriksen said with a smile. “We want to bring Canada into our schools and put up flags and we were going to do a lot with it.”

The document also pledged that the two communities are also committed to ongoing discussions for organizing and developing future experiences including, but not limited to, the potential “twinning” of Moose Jaw and Stor-Elvdal.

While Mac is now cleared to reclaim his crown as the biggest moose statue, Tolmie said both communities came away better off in the end.

“I think we compromised here,” Tolmie said. “We’re trying to send a message to other politicians — it’s better to collaborate. The dogmatic style of ‘I’m always right’ and not admitting your faults and your wrongs, people are getting tired of it. I’ve had to openly say that I made some comments in the press that were probably not very nice and not very generous. I have apologized on camera and I have apologized to Linda, saying ‘I take back saying that Storelgen is a shiny hood ornament’ and admitted the jealousy that I have because it is a beautiful moose. So I’m going to say that they do have the most attractive moose.

“We’ve had dialogue. I think that’s what democracies respect and want out of their leaders — whether they are municipal, provincial or federal — that we open up dialogue and listen to what the other person has to say. Look at the great things that are coming from this. This is not nuclear war. It’s the size of a moose and we’ve had some fun with it.”

Otnes Henriksen, who ended up being the face of the Stor-Elvdal campaign instead of Mayor Terje Hoffstad because of her proficiency in English, teaches Grades 8-10.

“This has been so much fun. It has been a little bit exhausting,” she said. “I won’t be ‘employee of the month’ at my day job because this has really taken up a lot of my time. My employer has been very understanding.”

Tolmie plans on returning the favour and visiting Norway but expects that won’t take place until next year. He said it has been a pleasure having Otnes Henriksen visit.

“The people of Norway have been really well represented by Linda. Since getting off the airplane, she’s been an amazing woman,” Tolmie said. “There may be a tear or two shed when she leaves because she really has impacted our city.”

Otnes Henriksen presented a print of Norway’s national painting “Winter Night in the Mountains” to Mayor Tolmie as a token of appreciation for the hospitality.

“This mountain in particular… is located in the municipality of Stor-Elvdal. The viewpoint from where this has been painted from by Harald Sohlberg he was a painter who lived in Stor-Elvdal for quite a few years is located in the northern part of our municipality. This is the actual view and it’s spectacular.”

Tolmie thanked her for the print and said he will “now be able to look at mountains” from his office.

The “Moosarandum of Understanding” will need to be ratified by each community’s respective municipal councils.

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