Foreign Student editorial (February 1981): On immigrants living in Finland

by , under Enrique Tessieri

The Foreign Student was a short-lived but courageous newsletter of the Foreign Student Club of Helsinki. The humble publication appeared from January 1981 to January 1982 and lasted 11 issues. Much of the things the newsletter wrote about 35 years ago are still valid today. 

Surprisingly those that opposed what we wrote weren’t officials or Finns, but some migrants who were nervous about rocking too much the boat. As our reporting got bolder, the more opposition we got.

Despite what happened, we’re very proud of the Foreign Student for speaking out at the time against Finland’s discriminatory and arbitrary immigration policy.

Below is an editorial from the February 1981 issue.

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Immigration has been a major factor in the growth of countries in America such as the United States, Canada, Argentina etc. This constant injection of people from the four corners of the Earth put new strength and progress into the mainstream of the New World. This was essential to its greatness today.

The day and life of immigrants have changed if we compare it with a hundred or two hundred years ago. Today it is harder to immigrate because stricter controls have been enacted by receiving countries.

I am an Argentine-American-Finn (I still haven’t figured out how I should group these words, either alphabetically or just at rancom, from my mother’s side a Finn with Swedish and Dutch blood and from my father’s side with Italian and French ancestry.

The world has changed to say the least when “culture” and “ethnicity” are involved. Through history people have tended to mix more and more. This trend has not subsided.

The Swedish-Finns are the largest minority in this country. Also, we have the Gypsies and the Lapps as small minorities. According to the Finnish Statistical Yearbook for 1977 we find around 12,000 people living in Finland with non-Finnish passports. of course we have within this group a large minority of Finns who have opted for Swedish nationality and who are also living in Finland. Weill the future put new minority groups in Finland? The answer is in the affirmative. I have a Finnish fiancée and when we have children they will be part of a minority. Talking about Swedish-Finns we could also mention the Japanese-Finns, Italian-Finns, German-Finns, Kenyan-Finns, British-Finns, Thai-Finns and the list has almost no end.

The Interior Ministry must understand that our children and even we are becoming a larger and ever more important minority in Finland. We want to grow with our children having the same rights as anyone else. Finland is a humanistic, progressive and technologically advanced nation in the eyes of the world. Could we also see this tradition fall on the foreigners living her as permanent residents?

  Enrique Tessieri

Chairman, F.S.C