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Swedish Truth Commmission: state and church must apologise to Tornedalians

According to a recently published report, Sweden should issue a public apology to the country’s northern minority.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Kvens, Tornedalians and Lantalaiset began its work in June 2020. On Wednesday, 15 November 2023, it submitted its final report to the Swedish government.

In the report, the commission stated that Sweden’s policy of assimilation ‘harmed the minority and continues to hinder the defence of its language, culture and traditional livelihoods,’ as reported by The Local. ‘Amends must be made in order to move forward,’ the report stated, and ‘acknowledging the historic wrongdoings should be a first step’.

The Tornedalians, Kvens and Lantalaiset, grouped together as Tornedalians, are a Finnic-speaking minority in northeastern Sweden and northwestern Finland. Currently, there are about 50,000 Tornedalians. In the 19th and 20th centuries, thousands of Tornedalian children were taken to Swedish-speaking boarding schools and forbidden to use their language and traditional clothing.

The Swedish policy of assimilation affected also the Saami, and a separate report about Sweden’s policies towards them is to be submitted in 2025.