The shooting massacre at a youth retreat and bombing of a government building in the capital city of Oslo strikes a sharp contrast with the image of a nation viewed as one of the most peaceful and prosperous in the world. Seventy-six people were killed in both attacks, according to the most recent reports coming out of Norway.
"It's a very sad day for Norway, and probably for all Norwegians everywhere in the world. It is unbelievable," said Vernon Braaten, president of the Dawson Creek lodge of the Sons of Norway, an organization representing people of Norwegian heritage in Canada and the United States.
The attacks were allegedly carried out by Anders Breivik, a young man who reportedly held extreme anti-Muslim, anti-government views.
Braaten said he can't understand how a person could have been driven to commit such atrocities.
"It's just not the Norwegian way, as I understand it. I really don't know how someone got brainwashed that much and led that far astray. It's just unforgivable, and it has saddened the country and the world."
He said he is hopeful the perception Norwegians have of themselves, and the way the rest of the world views the country, is not changed by what he said is a tragic but very rare event for the country.
He said the local Sons of Norway club is on a summer recess right now, but he expects when they reconvene this fall they will have an opportunity to reflect on the events and honour the dead with moments of silence. He added he wanted to pass on his own condolences to the people of Norway.