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Indigenous groups

On common ground

Representatives from Greenland’s Inuit and the Saami are gathering to learn more about their shared role in the region

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What role do indigenous groups play in the lives of people in Arctic? That is the subject of a pair of week-long sessions being organised for a group of 13 youngish Saami and Inuit.

The first session got underway in Nuuk on Tuesday. For the attendees, it has been a “crash-course” in indigenous rights so far, explains Lea Simma, a 26-year-old Saami from Sweden.

Other topics being taken up include an explanation of what Greenland’s chapter of the ICC, an international Inuit group, and Sámiráđđi, a Saami rights group, are doing to protect the environment, as well as the work of those two groups in the UN and the Arctic Council.

The course is the brainchild of Hjalmar Dahl, the head of ICC Greenland, and emerged out of a desire to get more more people, particularly young people, involved in the work done by indigenous groups, locally and in international organisations.

SEE RELATED: The Arctic, explained | ILO Convention no 169

Ms Simma, herself a member of Sámiráđđi, explains that even though the two groups already work to improve people’s daily lives – through efforts to address mental-health issues, for example – she agrees that more can be done to inform people of their work.

Though a less obvious match than indigenous groups in the North American Arctic, including Sámiráđđi makes sense, according to those involved, given the common Nordic bond the two groups share.

“The Saami and the Inuit have similar experiences with how we were treated, and with our history of political involvement that emerged in response,” Ms Simma says.

Another thing they share, she points out, is climate change. “We’ve realised that it affects us all, and it affects us in much the same way.”

The second session will take place in Inari, Finland, this spring.

(Photo: Visit Finland)