The company that will realize the Sàmi House in Tromsø, Northern Norway, has now been founded. "It will be a cool and fun place and a safe arena that will house the whole spectrum of Sàmi language and culture," says newly appointed Chairman Torjer Olsen.
After 30 years in the idea stage, the plan for the realization of a Sàmi house (Sàmi Viessu) in Tromsø (Romssa) was launched in November by Tromsø municipality, Troms and Finnmark County Council and the Sàmi Parliament (Sàmediggi).
On Thursday last week, an important 'building block' was laid as the three institutions formally established the company that will found the house – Romssa Sàmi Viessu/Samisk hus Tromsø AS. This is owned equally by the parties and has a capital of NOK 1 million.
The house will be a Sàmi meeting place – and contribute to creating and operating a public art and culture arena in the city with a clear Sàmi profile. Here, the Sàmi language and culture will be able to be experienced, developed, and passed on to future generations.
At the founding meeting, the company's board was also presented. Appointed as chairman is Torjer Olsen, Associate professor in indigenous studies and leader of the Centre for Sàmi Studies at UiT the Arctic University of Norway.
"I am looking forward to embarking on this task and I am very much excited to work with the new board. It has a breadth and expertise that will come in handy in the important work we have ahead of us. The ambition for the Sàmi House is for it to become a meeting place for all types of Sàmi people. It will be a fun and cool place and a safe arena that will house the whole spectrum of Sàmi language and culture," says Olsen.
"The Norwegianization policy is a deep wound in Norway. And in many ways, we are still in it. This is what I wish to work against as mayor. The establishment of Romssa Sàmi Viessu is an important part of this," states Tromsø Mayor Gunnar Wilhelmsen (Labor).
"I have high expectations for the work that chairman Torjer Andreas Olsen and his board will initiate. A great and important work that should and must be given great significance. Because we still hear stories about Sàmi hatred and racism against the Sàmi in Tromsø. We shall never accept this and always fight against it."
Present as the representatives of the owners was also Chair of the County Government of Troms and Finnmark Kristina Torbergsen (Labor) and Sàmi Parliament Council Member Runar Myrnes Balto (NSR).
"Sàmi language and culture will not come back on its own accord but must be worked back. We have made purposeful efforts to build it up and we take an important step further for our region with the Sàmi house. I am excited to get started with the continuation," says Torbergsen.
A great and important work that should and must be given great significance.
The way forward
Finding a general manager is on the board's agenda in the coming time, as well as finding suitable premises for the house. The board is also responsible for developing a sustainable operating and financing model, as well as ensuring good user participation for content and activity
By the end of the first quarter of this year, the board must submit a proposal for a financing and progress plan to the owners.
The board members
- Torjer Olsen, Associate professor in indigenous studies and leader of the Centre for Sàmi Studies at UiT the Arctic University of Norway (Chairman)
- Sigbjørn Skåden, Sàmi author and teacher
- Sandra Márjá West, project leader for Sàmi trademarks in the Sàmi Council, representative of the Sàmi Parliament (NSR), and former festival manager of Riddu Riđđu
- Tom Høgli, project manager of Arctic Sports AS and former soccer player and community contact in Tromsø Idrettslag
- Kari Helene Skog, political advisor to the mayor of Tromsø Municipality
- Anita Lervoll, student, apprentice, and anti-bullying ombudsman in Troms and Finnmark County Council
- Lill-Tove Fredriksen, Associate Professor of Sàmi literature at UiT, the Arctic University of Norway (1st alternate)
- Mats Hegg Jacobsen, farmer at Jacobsen på Berg, and municipal council representative (Center) in Tromsø (2nd alternate)
- Christine Lindquister, Senior Advisor at NHO Arctic (3rd alternate)
This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by Birgitte Annie Molid Martinussen.