Indigenous Sámi community weighs in on truth

Around 300 individuals have filed their views on a proposed truth and reconciliation process aimed at examining historical injustices suffered by Finland’s indigenous Sámi people.
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.

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.