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Winner of 2024 World Tree Award is Szilárd Tibor Tóth

The winner of the 2024 Kindred Peoples’ Programme’s World Tree Award is the Hungarian Finno-Ugric and kindred people activist Szilárd Tibor Tóth.

Photo: University of Tartu Narva College

Throughout his research and organisational career, Szilárd Tibor Tóth has paid attention to the languages and cultures of Finno-Ugric peoples. He has consistently introduced them internationally, contributing to the kindred people movement in Narva.

‘Szilárd has been an effective communicator with the Uralic peoples since the 1990s’, recalls award jury member Andres Heinapuu. ‘As a foreigner, his sincere interest has significantly raised the self-esteem and dignity of the Russian kindred peoples’ intellectuals who know him, as well as others.’

Szilárd Tóth from Budapest has regularly organised kindred people events in Estonia and abroad, including in Udmurtia and Perm. He has published research articles and articles in Hungarian, Estonian, Russian, English, German, Latvian, Udmurt, Finnish and Sorbian. He is the founder of Finnugor Világ, a Hungarian-language journal of Finno-Ugric studies. He also contributed to the establishment and publication of the Yearbook on Finno-Ugric Studies in Izhkar, Udmurtia. ‘All these activities are Tóth’s vocation as a scholar, which is not part of his direct job responsibilities’, says Helle Metslang, Professor Emeritus at the University of Tartu, in recognition of Szilárd Tóth’s work.

Since 2007, Szilárd Tóth has been teaching the Estonian language and linguistics at Narva College, University of Tartu. Under his leadership, the college has organised international conferences on Finno-Ugric languages and literature, including the annual Mikael Agricola Day Conference, which aims to focus attention on the survival of smaller tribal peoples and issues of their linguistic and cultural identity. At Tóth’s initiative, Narva has begun to celebrate Kindred People Week, organising book presentations, exhibitions, workshops, film evenings and concerts on the language and culture of Finno-Ugric peoples. ‘Thanks to his active work, many people in Narva have started to seek out and appreciate their Finno-Ugric roots’, says Enda Trubok, a colleague of Szilárd Tóth at Narva College.

World Tree Award

The World Tree Award is given to a representative of a kindred people whose activities are closely, effectively and rewardingly connected with the cultural identity and survival of the kindred people at the local level, or to a person who has significantly contributed to strengthening cooperation with Finno-Ugric kindred peoples and to introducing kindred peoples in Estonia and Europe at large. Among others, the prize has been awarded to Vasily Nikolaev, founder of the MariUver quadrilingual online platform (2023); Edina Csüllög from Hungary, founder of the Finno-Ugric Film Festival (FUFF); Taisto-Kalevi Raudalainen, who preserves the cultural identity of the Ingrian Finns (2022); Livonian linguist and cultural activist Valts Ernštreits (2020); Izhorian Dmitri Harakka-Zaitsev, lawyer, expert at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and Chairman of the Consultative Committee on Finno-Ugric Peoples (2015). The prize amounts to €2500.