Finnish Language Revitalisation Advocate
After the Second World War, the Sámis—the only indigenous people in the European Union—were assimilated into the Finnish majority, pushing the Skolt Sámi language to the brink of extinction. As of now, the language is officially dead in Norway, with only a few individuals surviving it in Russia.
There is hope for Sara Wesslin in Finland, with its approximately 300 speakers. Growing up, she was deeply fascinated by the language spoken by her grandmother. It was only when she was 20 years old that she began learning to speak it.
As a journalist, she made a career out of telling stories. With the Sámis rapidly slipping under the radar, it is up to Sara to bring the stories and voices of her people to the forefront. Tasked with that, she has successfully lobbied Finland’s education minister to provide funds for Sámi language teaching. Now, she’s only one of two journalists broadcasting in the Skolt language in the world.
Sara takes pride in her language revitalisation efforts. “I hope this will inspire, especially the younger Sámis to be proud of their roots. I want to prove to them that you can reach far, even when you’re born into a minority community,” said Sara when I asked her of the endgame in this endeavour. Each activist, no matter their cause, is driven by a singular force that maintains their focus. For this proud Finnish, it’s the joy of doing her job and doing right by her people. In 2006, no one under the age of 30 could speak Skolt Sámi as their mother tongue. Recently, the youngest to speak it as their first language turned three.
“I hope world leaders would recognise the matter of indigenous peoples, minority languages and cultures.”