Indigenous Sámi community weighs in on Finland’s truth and reconciliation process

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Anni-Kristiina Juuso, an expert at the Prime Minister’s Office, gathered views on a truth and reconciliation process from members of the Sámi community during the summer months. (Ville-Riiko Fofonoff/Yle)
Over the summer months, the Office of the Prime Minister organised a series of 29 hearings across the traditional northern Sámi homeland and in cities where Sámi associations are active.

Some 300 people either attended the events or contributed via email to the discussion on establishing a truth and reconciliation commission in Finland to deal with Sámi issues. This represented approximately 2.5 percent of Finland’s indigenous Sámi population, according to Anni-Kristiina Juuso at the Prime Minister’s Office.

“The hearings went well. I’d like to thank everyone who took part, who came to share their views and discuss,” Juuso told Yle.

PM’s office plans further action

A 70-page report on the hearings and views expressed has been compiled in Finnish, and is now being translated into the Northern Sámi, Skolt Sámi and Inari Sámi languages. The report will be published on the website of the Prime Minister’s Office, most likely in November.

Further action in the process is, however, already under consideration.

“The State of Finland and the Sámi Parliament of Finland will start talks on the next step already before this report is published,” says Anni-Kristiina Juuso.

The Finnish government began the work of establishing a truth and reconciliation committee to properly address the long-standing injustices faced by the indigenous Sámi people last autumn, initially by providing 200,000 euros for preparatory work.

There are about 10,000 Sámi in Finland. More than 60 percent of them live outside the Sámi homeland. The total Sámi population is estimated at over 75,000, with the majority living in Norway.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Student in Arctic Canada sits during national anthem to ‘make a statement’ about residential school curriculum, CBC News

Finland: In Santa’s hometown, are tourism and a railway threatening Sámi culture?, Cryopolitics Blog

Norway: Political support for Norwegian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russia plans fenced parks to confine reindeer herding in Arctic, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Indigenous reindeer herders request emergency aid after drought, wildfires ravage Sweden, Eye on the Arctic

United States: Governor Walker apologizes for historical trauma at Alaska Federation of Natives convention, Alaska Public Media

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