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Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Report Published in Norway

After many years of work, the Norwegian Truth and Reconciliation Commission handed in its report to the country’s parliament on 1 June. The commission investigated the Norwegianisation policy and its effects on the Saami, Kvens and Forest Finns.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in front of the Norwegian Parliament. Photo: Peter Mydske/Stortinget.

The investigation began in 2018 that produced a report of 658 pages. The report documents the reality and consequences of the official Norwegian policy that began in the mid-1850s and continued for over a hundred years. During this policy, the use of Saami and Finnish languages were limited and children speaking these minority languages were sent to boarding schools, where they were forbidden from speaking their languages. The report will be read in its entirety in the Norwegian National Theatre, lasting approximately 30 hours.

The situation of the Saami and Kven minorities has changed during the recent decades, some for the better. Yet while Norwegianisation is no longer official policy, according to the commission’s report, efforts for the support of the Saami and Kven communities and their languages are still lacking. Some municipalities are unable to fill their duties mandated by law, the reason of which is said to be in the shortage of staff able to speak Saami or Kven languages.

The number of Kvens is according to some estimates at around 50,000 people, but the Kven language is spoken by 2,000-8,000 people. Due to Norwegianisation and the stigmatisation of even the word ’Kven’, many Kvens nowadays don’t know about their background. Estimates of the Saami in Norway range between 38,000-60,000, the largest Saami language being North Saami with about 18,000 speakers in Norway.