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Sami Truth and Reconciliation Commission to continue its work

Government Communications Department
Publication date 23.11.2023 15.40
Press release
In the photo Saami flag

In its session on 23 November, the Government decided that Truth and Reconciliation Commission Concerning the Sami People would continue its work. The commission’s work will continue as outlined in the Government Programme of Prime Minister Petteri Orpo’s Government until 31 December 2025. The commission was appointed at a government session on 28 October 2021. Its aim is to collect Sami people’s experiences of the actions of the Finnish state and its various authorities and to make this information visible to the public.

The commission’s work is unique and takes time to implement properly. 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. The commission’s current term is set to continue until the end of this year.

The parliamentary monitoring group appointed to support the commission’s work will also be reappointed for the duration of the commission’s term. The monitoring group has a member and a deputy member from the parties represented in Parliament, the Sami Parliament (two members), the Skolt Sami Siida Council, the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Orthodox Church.

It is important to ensure that culturally appropriate psychosocial support is available in the Sami languages throughout the commission’s working term. 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 Truth and Reconciliation Commission is an impartial and independent body. It consists of five commissioners, two of whom are appointed based on a proposal from the Government, two based on a proposal from the Sami Parliament and one based on a proposal from the Skolt Sami Siida Council.

The commission’s members are:
•    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

The purpose of the truth and reconciliation process is:
•    to identify and assess historical and current discrimination, including state assimilation policy, and violations of rights,
•    to find out how these injustices affect the Sami people and their communities today,
•    to propose ways to promote links between the Sami and the state of Finland and among the Sami people, and
•    to raise awareness about the Sami as the Indigenous people of Finland

The Mandate of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Concerning the Sami People defines the objectives and tasks of the commission’s work. A further aim is to ensure that, as a result of the truth and reconciliation process, the state of Finland will bear responsibility for its actions and, together with the Sami Parliament, the Skolt Sami Siida Council and other Sami operators, will work to strengthen the realisation of the rights of the Sami people in Finland. Psychosocial support is an integral part of the implementation of the truth and reconciliation process.

The commission will draw up a report on its work that includes proposals for measures. The report will be submitted to the Government, the Sami Parliament and the Skolt Sami Siida Council by 30 November 2025.

In Finland, the status of the Sami as an indigenous people is guaranteed by the Constitution. By virtue of section 17, subsection 3 of the Constitution, the Sami, as an indigenous people, have the right to maintain and develop their own language and culture.

Read more about the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Concerning the Sami People. 
 
Inquiries: Risto Artjoki, State Secretary, tel. +358 9 1602 2006, Niina Brander, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 160 347, Prime Minister’s Office, Anni Koivisto, First Vice-President of the Sami Parliament, tel. +358 40 415 5969 and Veikko Feodoroff, Skolt Sami Elder, tel. +358 50 396 1297