Comment: The Finland in our Hearts Festival, which took place in Turku on July 1-4, is a good example of how Finland is slowly accepting its cultural diversity. No other group are a constant reminder of our cultural diversity than expatriate Finns. Some 1.3 million Finnish expatriates live abroad.
Kokoomus Euro MP Villa Itälä, chairman of the Finland Society board and of the Finnish Expatriate Parliament, was quoted as saying on Turun Sanomat that no Finnish government has understood the important of immigration. He described expatriate Finns are “a forgotten people” seen through the stereotypes of the past. The present political atmosphere in Finland doesn’t permit any improvement on this front, according to him.
One group that has erased almost completely these expatriate Finns with their anti-immigration rhetoric is the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party. Their hostility towards immigrants and refugees in Finland by some of their MPs is a deep insult to the over million Finns that live abroad.
Yours truly chaired on Monday the seminar on Latin America at the Finland in Our Hearts Festival. Apart from talking about Finnish immigration to Latin America, which was small when compared with North America, we discussed at the end what lessons we could learn from these Finnish immigrants’ experiences and how they could be applied to our ever-growing immigrant population.
There seemed to be a consensus among the audience that acceptance was crucial for things to move forward for immigrants.
Turku on ollut viime päivinä poikkeuksellisella tavalla kansainvälinen kohtauspaikka. Täällä on kokoontunut tuhansia ulkosuomalaisia, joilla on sitkeät siteet emämaahan, vaikkei heidän arvoaan Suomessa aina muisteta saati tunnusteta.