Protecting cultural expressions under threat - the Sami people
The Ministry of Education and Culture seeks to secure equal opportunities for language and cultural minorities and special-needs groups to participate in culture and express their creativity. In preparing and drafting legislation, the Ministry takes special care to guarantee equity and equality.
The Sami peoples’ rights are regulated in the Sami Parliament Act 974/1995 and the Sami people have a status of an indigenous people in the Finnish Constitution, Section 17 §, 731/1999. The ratification of the ILO 169 agreement was one of the objectives of the Finnish 2014-2015 government (primeminister Stubb). The Sami Parliament approved the agreement in June 2014 and the proposal of the ratification, together with an attachment concerning land rights. According to the attachment there would be no changes in the Sámi land ownership nor in the state or private property ownership. Also, the everyman's right would be preserved intact. One of the key issue in the processing of the ratification has been the definition of the Sámi people and the question of the land and water rights.
The ratification process was put on ice in March 2015, however, and the processing of the ratification was moved to the next government.
The aim of financial subsidies is to support sami culture.
To forward the ratification of the ILO 169 Convention the Government of Finland has launched a comparative study on how the Sami peoples’ rights are materialized in Finland. The goal of the study is the gather background information to form basis to the ratification of the ILO 169 Convention. The government will come back to the ratification issue once results of the study have been presented by the end of 2016.
The state subsidy for supporting cultural initiatives and other activities of the minority groups in Finland is channeled through general art and culture subsidy as well as through appropriations. In addition, each year a separate appropriation is granted for the support of Sámi culture, for which the grant decisions are made by the Sámi Parliament. Preparation of the grants issued by the Ministry of Education and Culture is an authoritative process.
One conrete example is The Sámi Cultural Centre Sajos which was opened in 2012. It creates better conditions for the Sámi to freely maintain and develope their own language, culture and livelihood and cultural self-goverment. The Sámi Cultural Centre Sajos fundamentally improves their opportunity to provide information of the Sámi as indigenous people of Finland. The Sámi Cultural Centre is a meeting point, both nationally and internationally. The Sámi Cultural Centre Sajos project was launched by the Sámi Parliament already in 2000. Funding for the activities of the Cultural Centre was included in the State budget in the spring of 2007. Sajos was also one of the largest publicly funded ERDF cultural projects for the period 2007-2013. The construction of Sajos was culturally important particularly from the perspective of multi-culturalism, cultural minorities and indigenous peoples.
To support the cultural self-government of the Sami people and the preservation of their culture.
In recent years, about 670 000 euro has been granted annually from the state budget to support Sámi language and culture. Including a separate appropriation for international Sámi cultural cooperation, such as Sámi art organisations as well as for the support of the Finnish branch of the Sámi Council and its national member organisations. The Sami culture has been also finaced through the EU funding mechanisms, eg. structural funds.