Sámi youth demand actions to mitigate climate change

We acknowledge the climate crisis and demand immediate action to mitigate changes in the environment. We have the right to a future and the future should be our own. 

The declaration of the Sámi youth shows their worry for the condition of nature in Sápmi and the future. It also brings together suggestions for action. Sámi youth demand actions to mitigate climate change and actions to help adapt to it. Sámi youth are worried about the effects of climate change especially on traditional Sámi livelihoods and culture. 

– In the declaration we request that traditional Sámi knowledge would be considered an equal source of knowledge when we speak of or research climate change, land use and traditional livelihoods. The IPCC report tells us harsh facts about the climate crisis. We have been speaking for years already about the consequences of climate change and the difficulties our community faces. We cannot stop the impacts, and we need to start adapting so that we can secure our culture, languages and livelihoods, say the chair of the Finnish Sámi Parliament’s youth council, Anni-Sofia Niittyvuopio and the chair of the Swedish Sámi Parliament’s youth council, Maria Unnes, who both participated in writing the declaration. 

Finnish Sámi Parliament’s youth council, Anni-Sofia Niittyvuopio and the chair of the Swedish Sámi Parliament’s youth council, Maria Unnes.

The declaration states that cooperation between Sámi youths needs to be secured through common events and gatherings, and cooperation between Sámi across borders and with other indigenous peoples needs to be strengthened and increased. 

The Sámi youth have prepared the declaration as a part of the Nordic Sámi Youth Conference. The declaration acts as a tool for Nordic Sámi youth cooperation and it is an action plan against climate change across borders. 

The declaration can be read in:

The Nordic Sámi Youth Conference was held as an online event on the 26th of August 2021. The main organiser of the conference was the youth council of the Sámi Parliament and it was organised in cooperation with youth agents from the Sámi Parliaments from Norway, Sweden and Finland. During the conference we heard speeches from the Finnish Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Krista Mikkonen, the chair of the Sámi Parliamentary Council, Aili Keskitalo, the chair of the Sámi Parliament, Tuomas Aslak Juuso and young reindeer herder Jussa Seurujärvi. Workshops were held by social media influencer Emmi Nuorgam, artivist Pauliina Feodoroff and the global youth organisation Youth4Nature. The theme of the conference was climate change and the declaration was made as part of the conference. 

More information 

Anni-Sofia Niittyvuopio  
Chair of the Sámi Parliament Youth Council of Finland 
+358 40 7082 072  
anni-sofia.niittyvuopio(at)samediggi.fi 

Maria Unnes 
Chair of the Sámi Parliament Youth Council of Sweden 
maria.unnes(at)sametinget.se 

Elli-Marja Hetta 
Youth Secretary of the Sámi Parliament of Finland 
+358 50 382 5179 
elli-marja.hetta(at)samediggi.fi 

Welcome to participate in a Nordic online seminar: Indigenous peoples: Language, culture and life cycle

Date and time: 31 August and 1 September 2021 at 12.30 – 16.00 EEST both days
Venue: Online seminar

How do we respect and implement rights of indigenous peoples with disabilities in the Nordic region?
What are the challenges to meet the needs of indigenous peoples with dementia in sparsely populated areas?

This two day online event will focus on the rights of indigenous persons with disabilities, while taking special account of people with dementia. The first day of this webinar will raise the issue of how the human rights intersect, highlighting key human rights obligations and recommendations from the perspective of both indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities. The second day of this webinar will focus on a vision and provision of future language- and culture-sensitive services particularly in sparsely populated areas, with a life cycle perspective.

The seminar is organised in cooperation between Nordic Welfare Centre, Nordic dementia network, Council of Nordic Cooperation on Disability, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in Finland, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), the Sámi Parliament in Finland, SámiSoster, Finnish Advisory Board for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities VANE and Finnish Human Rights Centre.

The event is open to anyone interested but registration is required (by 31 August at 12.30).

The program, more information and link to registration:

Indigenous peoples: language, culture, and life cycle (link to Nordic Welfare Centre’s website)
https://nordicwelfare.org/en/evenemang/indigenous-peoples-language-culture-and-life-cycle/   

Expert Workshop to assess proposals for amending the Sámi Parliament Act in Finland on 2 September

An Expert Workshop to assess proposals for amending the Sámi Parliament Act in Finland will be held at the Faculty of Law at the University of Lapland on Thursday 2 September 2021. The Worksop is organized in collaboration with the Sámi Parliament and the Ministry of Justice. The organizer of the workshop is Professor Martin Scheinin in his capacity as part-time professor in indigenous peoples’ rights at the University of Lapland. The main purpose of the event is to provide a forum for a range of international, Finnish and Sámi experts to provide and discuss their assessment of the draft by the drafting commission. 

Kuva: Ville Fofonoff

The President of the Sámi Parliament Tuomas Aslak Juuso will participate in the seminar and give one of the opening speeches. – The reform of the Sámi Parliament Act is a very current topic and I look forward with great interest to the expert workshop. It is important that the workshop provides a forum for international human rights experts to evaluate and discuss their assessment of the draft by the drafting commission, says Juuso. 

The members of the drafting commission appointed by the Sámi Parliament will also attend to the workshop.  

The event will be organized in hybrid mode, so that speakers and other participants will be able attend either in person or remotely through online videoconferencing. Registration to the workshop has ended on 15 August. Registered participants will receive materials and logistical information related to the event.  

In May 2021, a government-appointed Drafting Commission chaired by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice and composed, in equal numbers, of persons nominated by the Sámi Parliament in Finland, and the five political parties forming the government coalition, delivered a draft for amendments to the Sámi Parliament Act. The proposed amendments would recognize Sámi self-determination, implement Final Views issued by the UN Human Rights Committee related to the criteria and procedure for determining who may be included in the electoral roll of the Sámi Parliament, and strengthen domestic law provisions related to the principle of free, prior and informed consent, as enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 

The full report exists only in Finnish but the summary and the proposed legal texts are included also in Sámi and Swedish languages. Persons who register for the 2 September workshop will be sent English-language excerpts, as far as they already exist or will become available.  

More information: 

Tuomas Aslak Juuso 
The president of the Sámi Parliament 
+358 40 687 3394 
tuomas.juuso@samediggi.fi  

Sámi youth come together to fight climate change in a conference on 26 August

The Nordic Sámi Youth Conference will be organised on 26 August 2021. The theme of the conference is climate change and the conference will be organised virtually. The conference is free of charge and open to all Sámi youth.

Sámi Parliament project worker Milla Pulska and chair of the Youth Council Anni-Sofia Niittyvuopio welcome Sámi youth to the online conference.

“It is great that Sámi youth can once again discuss current and important matters across international borders. I believe that we will come to important realisations about climate change and how to battle it, but also realisations about how we can adapt,” rejoices the chair of the Youth Council, Anni-Sofia Niittyvuopio.

At the conference we will hear interesting speeches from the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Krista Mikkonen, the Chair of the Sámi Parliamentary Council, Aili Keskitalo, young reindeer herder Jussa Seurujärvi and the Chair of the Sámi Parliament in Finland, Tuomas Aslak Juuso. The conference also includes workshops. The workshops will be held by the youth-led global organisation Youth4Nature, social media influencer Emmi Nuorgam and activist, director and screenwriter Pauliina Feodoroff.

“We hope that the young people participate boldly in the workshops. In the workshops, we will try to find everyone a suitable way of making an impact. Climate change can feel overwhelming, but we want to encourage people to find common strength and a message in the societal work against climate change,” explains the project worker of the conference, Milla Pulska.

Arctic indigenous peoples experience climate change most drastically and Sámi youth are worried about the impacts of climate change on the traditional livelihoods and culture of the Sámi people. At the conference, we will compile a declaration against climate change and plan shared operation models for Sámi youth across borders.

The Youth Council, which is under the Sámi Parliamentary Council, organises the Nordic Sámi Youth Conference every two years.  The conference is organised in cooperation with youth from the Sámi Parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland. The main organiser of the conference is the Sámi Parliament’s Youth Council. The goal of the conference is to encourage Sámi youth to develop Sámi society.

More information about the conference: www.nuor.fi

More information:

Anni-Sofia Niittyvuopio
Chair of the Sámi Parliament Youth Council
040 7082 072
anni-sofia.niittyvuopio(at)samediggi.fi

Milla Pulska
project worker
040 669 5295
milla.pulska(at)samediggi.fi

Welcome to the Nordic Sámi Youth Conference

When: 26.8.2021 Finnish time from 9:00 to 15:00

Place: Zoom

The conference is free of charge and open to all Sámi youth. We will divide the attendants into workshops and we strive to base this on their wishes. The conference will have simultaneous interpretation. All attendants will be sent a t-shirt designed by artist Arsi Keva.

The theme of the conference is climate change. The indigenous peoples of the Arctic are most affected by climate change. Sámi youth are especially worried about the impact of climate change on the traditional livelihoods and culture of the Sámi people. As a part of the conference, the Sámi youth will outline a common declaration against climate change and plan operation models for this.

The Youth Council, which is under the Sámi Parliamentary Council, organises the Nordic Sámi Youth Conference every two years.  The conference is organised in cooperation with youth from the Sámi Parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland. The main organiser of the conference is the Sámi Parliament’s Youth Council.

Registration before 25.8. Finnish time 12.00: https://link.webropolsurveys.com/S/762D510FDD3DA894

Invitation

Programme

9:00 Start

9:15 Speech: Chair of the Sámi Parliamentary Council, Aili Keskitalo

9:30 Speech: Young reindeer herder Jussa Seurujärvi

9:45 Speech: Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Krista Mikkonen

10:00 Workshops

  1. Youth4Nature: Mobilising Youth to Lead for Nature and Climate, Storytelling
    Language: English
  2. Emmi Nuorgam: Social Media and Influencing
    Language: Finnish
  3. Pauliina Feodoroff: Climate Activism Sápmi
    Language: English

12:00 Lunch break

12:45 Speech: Chair of the Sámi Parliament in Finland, Tuomas Aslak Juuso

13:00 Declaration workshops in groups

14:14 Wrapping up             

15:00 End

Additional information:

project worker Milla Pulska
tel. +358 40 6695295
e-mail: milla.pulska(at)samediggi.fi

The Youth Council will translate the LGBTQ+ vocabulary by Seta into Sámi languages

The next generation of Sámi LGBTQ+ people will grow up with the opportunity to express their identity in words in the Sámi languages.

The Youth Council of the Sámi Parliament will translate the LGBTQ+ vocabulary by Seta, the main LGBTQ+ rights organization in Finland, into the North Sámi, Inari Sámi and Skolt Sámi languages. The translated vocabularies will be published on the information and advice website of the Youth Council. The vocabulary will gather terms and concepts connected with gender and sexual minorities. The main focus will be on diversity of gender and sexual orientation, but the vocabulary will also describe other words and themes broadly associated with the LGBTQ+ society.

– The translation of the vocabulary will be an appropriate follow-up to the dictionary of sexuality which was translated earlier. By translating the vocabulary we can offer Sámi LGBTQ+ people words for defining themselves, and also advance their inclusion in Sámi society and increase awareness of LGBTQ+ issues in the society, Anni-Sofia Niittyvuopio, the chairperson of the Youth Council, states.

Translating and compiling the vocabulary is important for the development of sexual and gender identity among Sámi youth. With help of the vocabulary they will be able to define themselves and communicate with other LGBTQ+ Sámi across state borders. However, the vocabulary will not be able to completely capture the diversity among LGBTQ+ Sámi, as everyone has their own experience of their person and identity. By translating the vocabulary the Youth Council also aims to initiate discussion on the rights and the position of sexual and gender minorities in Sámi society.

The terminological aspects of the translation work will be done in cooperation with Sámi Giellagáldu. Many of the words in the vocabulary already have corresponding Sámi terms standardized by the language divisions of Sámi Giellagáldu. The translation project will compile already existing words in a form that is accessible and easy to use. As regards new terms, workshops for LGBTQ+ Sámi will be organized, and the LGBTQ+ community will thus be engaged in development of new terminology.

Information about the translation of the vocabulary has reached Sámi youth across borders. The Youth Council hopes to collaborate Sámi youth in order to put work with the vocabulary into practice, and possibly also to translate the vocabulary into other Sámi languages as well.

Sápmi Pride was organized in 2017 in Inari/Aanaar. Photo: Ville-Riiko Fofonoff

For further information:

Anni-Sofia Niittyvuopio 
chairperson of the Youth Council of the Sámi parliament
+358 40 7082 072 
anni-sofia.niittyvuopio(at)samediggi.fi 

Elli-Marja Hetta 
Youth secretary
+358 50 382 5179 / +358 10 839 3134 
elli-marja.hetta(at)samediggi.fi 

UN’s Human Rights Committee to monitor Sámi people’s rights in expedited procedure

On 1 April 2021, the United Nations’ Human Rights Committee issued its findings and recommendations to Finland on the realisation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Committee will monitor the implementation of the recommendations on the rights of the Sámi indigenous people in an expedited procedure.

According to the Committee’s recommendation’s, Finland should speed up the process to revise the Sámi Parliament Act with a view to respecting the Sámi people’s right of self-determination, particularly as regards the definition of a Sámi and the obligation of the authorities to negotiate with the Sámi Parliament. In addition, Finland should review existing legislation, policies and practices that may have an impact on the rights and interests of the Sámi people, including development projects and extracting industries operations. Finland should ensure that meaningful consultation with the Sámi people is realised with the aim of obtaining their free, prior and informed consent.

According to the recommendations, Finland should consider ratifying the ILO  Convention No. 169 and stepping up its efforts to ensure that the government and local officials, police officers, prosecutors and judges have the appropriate training needed to respect the Sámi’s rights as an indigenous people.

Finland must submit a report on the implementation of the recommendations to the Committee by 26 March 2022.

“It is clear that Finland should implement the findings and recommendations issued by the Human Rights Committee, particularly with respect to the revision of the Sámi Parliament Act. In the revision process currently under way, the Sámi Parliament Act should be amended in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” says Tuomas Aslak, President of the Sámi Parliament.

The Committee acknowledges the steps taken by Finland to promote the rights of the Sámi people, including the ongoing establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Committee expresses its concern, however, that the Sámi Parliament Act – particularly with respect to the definition of the eligibility to vote and to the consultation obligation – has still not yet been amended in a way that guarantees the Sámi people’s right of self-determination. On the contrary,the decisions of 5 July 2019 by the Supreme Administrative Court and the Government’s decision not to cancel or postpone the Sámi Parliament elections appear to run counter to the Views adopted by the Committee, the Human Rights Committee finds.

In essence, the Committee thus finds in the reporting procedure that Finland has continued to violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights despite the decision handed down two years ago by the Committee in individual complaints. “It is unacceptable that Finland will not address human rights violations. Finland cannot fall to the level of those countries which pick and choose which human rights are implemented. Rather, human rights must be implemented in full,” Juuso continues.

The Committee is further concerned about reports according to which vague criteria are used to assess the impact of measures. This results in the authorities’ failure to engage in consultations to obtain free, prior and informed consent of the Sámi people. The Committee also notes Finland’s delay in ratifying the ILO Convention No. 169.

The Human Rights Committee is a body of independent experts, which monitors the implementation of the Covenant. Finland’s seventh periodic report was reviewed in a public virtual session on 2–4 March 2021.

The Committee’s findings and recommendations in English (PDF)

Further information:

Tuomas Aslak Juuso, President Tel. +358 (0)40 687 3394, tuomas.juuso(at)samediggi.fi

The Sámi Parliamentary Council’s statement on wind power projects in Sámi areas – Projects must obtain a free, prior and informed consent of the Sámi people

The Sámi Parliamentary Council (SPC) convened on 25 January 2021 for a plenary session in which the chairmanship of the Council was transferred from the Sámi Parliament in Finland to the Sámi Parliament in Norway for the next 16 months. The plenary session was organised as a video conference.

The plenary session accepted the annual report of the Finnish chairmanship and discussed the use of wind power in Sámi areas and adopted a statement on this. According to the statement, the SPC demands that the Sámi people must give their free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) for wind power projects in the Sámi area. You can read the statement here. The new action plan for Norway’s term as Chair was also adapted. The action plan is available here.

The Sámi Parliament in Finland assumed the chairmanship of the Sámi Parliamentary Council on 19 September 2019, and the Chair of the Sámi Parliament in Finland has been the Chair of SPC since. The Youth Council of the Sámi Parliamentary Council has also been chaired by the Youth Council of Sámi Parliament in Finland.

Covid-19 pandemic affected the chairmanship

The main goals of the chairmanship of the Sámi Parliament in Finland included, inter alia, establishing the operations of Sámi Giellagáldu, the Nordic Resource Centre for Sámi Languages, promotion of the Nordic Sámi Convention and advancement of the process on enhancing the participation of Indigenous Peoples at the United Nations.

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020 and the exceptional circumstances that followed had a major impact on the chairmanship as well as SPC’s activities. Due to the exceptional circumstances, all of the Board Meetings of Sámi Parliamentary Council were organized as video conferences with the exception of the first meeting of the Board that took place in Inari in January 2020. As a result of the pandemic, international meetings, conferences, seminars and other events were cancelled, at least in their conventional form since March 2020, so the number of SPC’s international activities remained below their normal level.

The conference of Sámi parliamentarians, originally scheduled for August 2020, was also cancelled due to the outbreak of the pandemic. The Board of the SPC decided that the conference will be organized in August 2021. The conference will be organized in Inari.

The SPC is a parliamentary body for the cooperation of the Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden, and Finland with representatives from Russian Sámi organisations. Representatives from these three Nordic countries and Russia convene for a plenary session at least once a year. The Sámi Parliamentary Council seeks to promote the inter-parliamentary cooperation of the Sámi parliaments in the Nordic countries and it discusses cross-border matters that affect the Sámi as a people. The SPC also often represents the Sámi people living in the Nordic countries in international contexts. 

The representatives of the Sámi Parliamentary Council are appointed in the plenum of the Sámi Parliament, for one parliamentary term at a time. This parliamentary term, the representatives are:

Tuomas Aslak Juuso (deputy Leo Aikio)

Anni Koivisto (deputy Juha-Petteri Alakorva)

Pirita Näkkäläjärvi (deputy Magreta Sara)

Anne Nuorgam (deputy Asko Länsman)

Karen-Anni Hetta (deputy Irja Seurujärvi-Kari)

Tauno Ljetoff (deputy Veikko Feodoroff)

Niko Valkeapää (deputy Ulla-Maarit Magga)

In the Board of The Sámi Parliamentary Council, the Sámi Parliament’s (in Finland) representatives are Tuomas Aslak Juuso (deputy Leo Aikio) and Anni Koivisto (deputy Leo Aikio). Following the collaborative agreement of the SPC, the political heads of the Sámi parliaments must participate in the activities of the Board of the SPC.

Additional information

President Tuomas Aslak Juuso, +358 (0)40 687 3394, tuomas.juuso(at)samediggi.fi

Secretary for International Affairs, Inka Saara Arttijeff, +358 (0)50 574 7629, inka-saara.arttijeff(at)samediggi.fi

Photo: Ville-Riiko Fofonoff