A few weeks before the election in April, I visited a group of third-graders at a local elementary school in eastern Finland. Like many schools in this country, the class was made up of a few kids with African, Middle Eastern and other European backgrounds.
If we look very generally at the previous century, Finns worked hard at building a sense of national unity: surnames were Finnicized and personal histories about our “foreign” background were erased for the common national good.
Here is a good example of an editorial in Jyäskylä-based Keskisuomalainen that shows how little the top editors of the newspaper understand immigration. If the editorial were written in the Washington Post, Financial Times or El País of Madrid, the editor would probably get the boot for making negligent statements and for practising lazy opinionated journalism.
If we look at the dismal amount of immigrants and refugees as well as high unemployment one can reach only one conclusion: a policy that has failed miserably. Certainly progress has been made: the number of immigrants has risen albeit slowly to 143,256 today from 12,670 in 1981 while unemployment has come down officially from 53% in 1994 to over 20%.
Even though Finland has been generous about investing on language- and culture-training course for immigrants, one should rightfully ask if the money is being spent effectively. Why is there still high unemployment among immigrants in Finland if we are spending hefty summs of tax-payers money on these types of courses?
One of the surprising matters about the debate on multiculturalism is how little we understand the basic terms. Take for instance the term multicultural. Does it only mean a society comprised physically of many (multi) cultures? Or is it a policy that facilitates the participation of immigrants and ethnic minorities in a society?
Forging Finnish identity was important in the 20th century. Even so, it narrowed our perception of who is a Finn. The dual citizenship law of 2003 was one important matter that started to change matters.
What better time than to bring up the Equality Act of 2004 during Finland’s Independence Day. One of the matters that makes me happy about being a member of this society is that after December 6, 1917, Finland did not become an autocratic country that had no respect for human rights. Despite all the challenges…
Zacharias Topelius , a Finnish cultural heavyweight who lived in the 19th century, embraced multiculturalism in the following manner below. When I read such a quote, I am more convinced that 1939-1995 was an anomaly for this country. Finland was always multicultural — not a “monocultural” nation that fought tooth and nail to exclude people…