Finland prolongs Sami Truth and Reconciliation Commission through 2025

The Sami flag in front of Sajos, the Sami cultural and administrative centre and home to the Sami Parliament of Finland in the Arctic village of Inari. (Sámediggi | Saamelaiskäräjät | The Sámi Parliament)

The Government of Finland has prolonged the work of the Sami Truth and Reconciliation Commission saying the process needs more time to be properly executed. 

“The commission’s work is unique and takes time to implement properly,” the government said in a statement on Nov. 23. 

“For this reason, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Sami Parliament and the Skolt Sami Siida Council decided to propose that its working term be extended.”

Examining relations between Sami and the State

The Sami are an Arctic Indigenous people whose traditional homeland spans the Arctic regions of Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola Peninsula in Russia’s western Arctic, an area they refer to collectively as Sapmi.

There are an estimated 10,000 Sami living in Finland, with more than 60 per cent of those living outside of the Sami homeland area.

The Finnish government agreed to the formation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2019 and the process officially began at the end of October 2021.

Goals of Finland's commission
  • Investigate past and present discrimination, including state assimilation policies and rights violations
  • Understand the ongoing impacts on Sami people and communities
  • Strengthen connections between the Sami and the State.
  • Raise awareness about the Sami

The Finnish commission was set up to explore past assimilation policies as well as the historical relations between the Sami and Finnish state that continue to impact Sami language, culture and rights.

Tuomas Aslak Juuso, president of the Sami Parliament in Finland. (Ville-Riiko Fofonoff / Sámediggi | Saamelaiskäräjät)

The set up was partly modeled on the Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Canadian commissioners Marie Wilson and Wilton Littlechild were among the advisors.

Work to continue through 2025

The body has five commissioners: two are proposed by the Government; two are nominated by the Sami Parliament, and one is chosen by the Skolt Sami Siida Council.

Truth and Reconciliation Commissioners
  • Irja Jefremoff, Master of Administrative Sciences
  • Anni-Siiri Länsman, PhD, University Lecturer, Head of the Giellagas Institute at the University of Oulu
  • Kari Mäkinen, Archbishop emeritus
  • Heikki Paltto, Reindeer Herder, Entrepreneur
  • Hannele Pokka, Doctor of Laws, Professor of Practice

In the announcement on Nov. 23, the government said the commission’s work will now go through until Dec. 31 2025.

The Sami Parliament in Finland. (Ville-Riiko Fofonoff / Sámediggi | Saamelaiskäräjät | The Sámi Parliament)

Other aspects of the commission will also be continued including psychosocial support.

“The Uvjj – Uvjâ – Uvja – Untuva psychosocial support unit operating under the wellbeing services county of Lapland provides psychosocial support services that are compatible with the Sami culture and available in the Sami languages. Its activities will continue for the duration of the commission’s work,” the statement said. 

The parliamentary monitoring group, tasked with aiding the commission’s efforts, is also extended until Dec. 31, 2025. It includes members and a deputy member from parliamentary parties, two members from the Sami Parliament, representatives from the Skolt Sami Siida Council, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and the Orthodox Church.

Comments, tips or story ideas? Contact Eilís at eilis.quinn(at)

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: “We still have a lot of healing to do with our fellow Canadians” – National Day for Truth and Reconciliation observed September 30, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Sami Parliament in Finland agrees more time needed for Truth and Reconciliation Commission preparation, Eye on the Arctic

Greenland: Danish PM apologizes to Greenlanders taken to Denmark as children in 1950s, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Can cross-border cooperation help decolonize Sami-language education, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: New chairman appointed to Sweden’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Eye on the Arctic

United States: “This isn’t just about Native people, this is about America,” say truth commission advocates, Eye on the Arctic

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