On the occasion of Sámi National Day, we bring you the news that the first-ever EU-Sámi Week will be held in Brussels, in June. The aim of the ESW2022 is to increase awareness of Sámi culture, create networks and heighten the knowledge of Sámi issues among the policymakers in various sectors that affect Sámi interests.
The intrinsic link to an identifiable traditional territory is the characteristic that most clearly distinguishes indigenous peoples from minority groups. The connection to land is often reelected in Sámi Art.
Sámi Dance Performance
The Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux will take part in the cultural program, supporting a Sámi dance performance by two talented young Sámi dancers Katja and Birit Haarla. They will create a new dance piece specially for the EU-Sámi Week. As twins, Katja and Birit introduce the piece via the concept of ‘movement symbiosis’, which can be interpreted as a symbiosis between living beings in ecosystems. With the duet, they will create a performative space which holds an empowering atmosphere generated by the body’s expressive physicality. They describe that dance and its healing power is something very similar to the one that emerges from Mother Earth.
“The Sámis have lived through decades in an agreement with the land in order to perpetuate a long lasting and nourishing way of equal dwelling on this planet. In the context of EU Sámi week, we wish to dedicate this piece to our fellow Sámis who we invite to share our conquest of the Beursschouwburg stage”, they encourage.
Katja Haarla (2000) has graduated from the Finnish National Opera Ballet School in 2019 and is currently studying her final year in P.A.R.T.S. -Performing Arts Research and Training Studios. Birit Haarla (2000) is soon graduating with a Bachelor of Dance from the Training cycle program in P.A.R.T.S. She also graduated from the Finnish National Opera Ballet School in 2019.
Previously they both have collaborated with visual artist Marja Helander on an award-winning short film Eatnanvuloš Lottit (2018) and with visual artist Outi Pieski on the video installation Guhte Gulla which was exhibited at the Helsinki Biennale 2021. Currently they are working with theatre director Pauliina Feodoroff on the performance Matriarch, which will be performed at the Venice Biennale 2022.
More information about Katja and Birit Haarla’s performance at Beursschouwburg will be announced in the programme to be released this spring.
The Saami Council member organizations have over time expressed a need for more knowledge and exchange of experience in Sápmi on how EU directives, regulations, decisions, opinions and recommendations affect the everyday life of the Sámi people. The need has also been raised in the Sámi Parliamentary Council (SPR) for a long time on how Sámi can get a clearer voice within the EU and how a permanent contact point with the EU can be organized.
In 2019, the Saami Council and Suoma Sámi Nuorat (The Finnish Sámi Youth), a Sámi youth advocacy organization, were awarded an Interreg Nord project called “Filling the EU-Sámi knowledge gaps”. The objective of the project is to raise awareness and build capacity on EU-Sámi relations. The four main activities are; a trainee programme, courses, an EU-Sámi think-tank and a pilot EU Sámi week in Brussels. The aim is to make EU Sámi week an annual event.
The project is funded by Interreg Nord, Regional Council of Lapland, Sámi Parliament in Norway, County Municipality of Troms and Finnmark, Region Norrbotten, and Region Västerbotten.
You can learn more about EU- Sámi Week on the Saami Council website. The full programme will be published this spring.