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Indigenous activists from Russia's northwest exchanged experience with Norwegian Kvens

Center Young Karelia and its partners exchanged experience with representatives of the Kven national minority in Norway. Parter-Organizations held an expert seminar and touched upon issues of sustainable development, preservation of culture, traditions and languages, economic empowerment of indigenous and minority communities through tourism development, and the role of cultural heritage in the socio-economic development. Guests from northwest Russia became active participants of a local Kven music festival and brought a photo-exhibition. The visit was another event of the project "Indigenous peoples’ and ethnic minorities’ cooperation and networking increase facility in the Nordic countries and Northwest Russia", which Center Young Karelia is implementing with the support of the Nordic Council of Ministers.   


Skibotn is a traditional Kven community in northern Norway, where one of the most active Kven organizations - Kvenlandsforbundet - is situated. Preservation and promotion of Kven language, culture and livelihoods have been priorities in the work of this small NGO. Kvens are considered as a national minority in Norway, whose destiny is tightly bound with the struggle for the cultural identity. Therefore the hosts' presentations at the joint expert seminar were devoted to the mainstreaming of the native language among young people, confronting historic injustices through the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission, and ethno-tourism development. 


Participants from Russia presented good practices from the experience of the Karelians, Izhorians, Sami, as well as NGO's working closely with indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities in northwest Russia. The expert seminar was featured by the strong interlinkage between the science and social activities. Especially this symbiosis is necessary in the promotion of languages in cyberspace and the revival of authentic crafts and traditions. Russian and Norwegian partners equally share worries about the language situation: half of the speakers stressed the theme of revitalization and early language immersion, as well as the preservation of the environment for indigenous peoples.


The second day of the program allowed participants to deepen in the cultural life of the Norwegian Kvens and to visit one of the most prominent local events - the traditional June music festival. The members of the delegation of the Center Young Karelia did not remain just observers. On the contrary, musician Arto Rinne won the audience's applause with his performance at the festival, in which he presented both Finnish and Karelian culture of Karelia at the same time. Art-manager and head of the Association of Ethno-Cultural Centers "ECHO" Svetlana Kolchurina brought with her the photo exhibition "The Colors of the Cuisine of the White Sea". Guests of the Kven Cultural Center and locals could see the works of photographer Sophia Tiatiavyainen and designer Eugenia Makkovaeva for two days and write down recipes of Pomor cuisine. A Sami leader from Murmansk region Elena Yakovleva held a worksop on traditional belt weaving and exhibited items related to the Sami culture. The partners used the opportunity of the gathering for recoding interviews for the project movie, holding bilateral meetings and planning new joint initiatives. 


Project partners will reconvene in Petrozavodsk on 4 and 5 October for the final event. 

Pictures by Svetlana Kolchurina and Alexey Tsykarev 

Programme of the Expert Seminar

More photos in the Gallery