Saami Council photo contest to spotlight environmental concerns in Arctic

“Youth voices need to be heard on environmental issues because they are the ones that will be inheriting these issues in the future,” says Lasse Bjorn, the project manager for environmental projects at the Saami Council. (Saami Council)

The Saami Council, the Indigenous organization that represents the interests of Sami in Arctic Europe, has launched a photo contest to raise awareness about the environmental concerns of youth in the region.

“Environmental issues are really important in Sapmi right now,” said Lasse Bjorn, the project manager for environmental projects at the Saami Council and the person in change of the photo contest.

“We’re having lots of discussions on things like land use issues, mines, the wind industry and of course climate change,” Bjorn said in a phone interview from Norway.  “Having a photo competition gives people a way to show what they care about to the Saami Council and also highlight those issues and to share.”

The contest is open to Sami aged 13 to 33. Entrants are asked to send in an original photo that depicts any environmental concerns or observations in Sapmi, the traditional territory of the Sami that spans northern Norway, Finland, Sweden and northwestern Russia on the Kola Peninsula.

“It’s important for us to reach out to Sami youth and incorporate them into our work at the Saami Council,” Bjorn said. “Youth voices need to be heard on environmental issues because they are the ones that will be inheriting these issues in the future.”

Images to be used in future publications

Judges from the Saami Council will choose the 10 best images, which will be published on the Saami Council website and also be used to illustrate the organization’s future publications concerning the environment.

Environmental Issues facing Sapmi
The sign reading “Military Exercise Area – Dangerous” in Arctic Sweden. Sami here say training drills in the region are often not announced ahead of time and can interfere with their hunting and reindeer activities. It’s only one example of the kind of land use that’s putting increasing pressures on the environment in their traditional areas, they say.  (Eilís Quinn/Eye on the Arctc)
  • Land fragmentation
  • Deforestation
  • Windmills
  • Trash in nature
  • Pollution
  • Biodiversity loss
  • Climate change

Source: Saami Council

The winners will also receive prizes from Sami artisans that include everything from Sami silver works and traditional wooden cups, to other Sami handicrafts.

The only restriction on the contest photos is that they not include people’s faces.

Bjorn said the contest criteria was being left as wide open as possible so contestants have room to express themselves and their visions.

“The picture needs to be able to speak for itself, so the environmental issues is clear without a lot of explanations, but other than that, we leave it open to them.”

A reindeer near the village of Inari in Arctic Finland. Everything from tourism, to infrastructure, to forestry, to climate change is affecting reindeer herding in Sapmi. (Eilis Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)

The contest closes on June 13.

The winners are expected to be announced later this month on the Saami Council website.

Contest details are available here.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Photos show Torngat Mountains in Canada’s eastern Arctic as you’ve never seen them before, CBC News

Finland: Photographer tells how he snapped picture of rare white bear cub in Finland, Yle News

Greenland: International Inuit organization announces youth leadership award winners in honour of Hans-Pavia Rosing, Eye on the Arctic

United States: International symposium to amplify youth voices on Arctic, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

3 thoughts on “Saami Council photo contest to spotlight environmental concerns in Arctic

  • Tuesday, June 15, 2021 at 16:19

    Great job. Actually Nature needs this type of change maker. we shouldn’t give anything to future generations just you will give wonderful nature like fresh air, water so on so…THE ENVIRONMENT IS CHANGING IN SÁPMI. WE ARE FACING THE THREATS OF CLIMATE CHANGE, AND THE INDUSTRIALIZATION OF OUR LAND. NOW WE WANT TO SEE WHAT YOUR CONCERNS ARE.

  • Wednesday, June 16, 2021 at 05:37

    You have done great job. Everyone save environment with ourselves. Everyone should maintain responsibility of save our nature like you. Your the motivator for everyone. In future generations develop and need this type of characters building..

  • Thursday, December 9, 2021 at 06:59

    Although the Arctic is remote and sparsely populated, it is under threat from environmental stresses largely originating in distant regions. Three main interrelated issues regarding the Arctic environment are climate change, changes in biological diversity, and the accumulation of toxic substances.

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