Photograph: Public domain

The Sámi Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Finland will continue until decisions are made on their future.

Two of the five commissioners have resigned. 

The secretary general also resigned. The commission’s regulators are now negotiating the way forward.

The work of the Sámi Truth and Reconciliation Commission continues for the time being with a reduced composition.

Hannele Pokka will now serve as interim chair of the three-member commission until decisions are taken on the commission’s future. 

Hannele Pokka emphasizes that the continuation of the commission is in the hands of the Council of State, the Sámi Parliament and the village council of the Kolts.

On Wednesday, the government granted two commissioners Miina Seurujärvi and Heikki J. Hyvärinen a resignation from the commissioner’s position of trust. At the beginning of May, Seurujärvi announced his resignation, as he felt that the commission would not be able to carry out the tasks assigned to it, due in part to a lack of resources. Hyvärinen resigned for health reasons.

In addition to Seurujärvi and Hyvärinen, Anni-Kristiina Juuso, the secretary general of the commission, has also left her job during the probationary period.

Despite the resignation of several members of the commission, Hannele Poka said that it was possible and necessary to continue the preparatory work.

At the same time, the Sámi peoples in the Russian neighboring region Lovozero (Luujärvi) and Krasnoshchelye villages of the Murmansk region also met with authorities and businessmen interested in starting lithium mining in their settlements.

The meeting gathered also the representatives of the Nenets and the Komi people, as well as government officials.

The main purpose of the meeting was to set up a dialogue with indigenous peoples, inform local communities about the forthcoming project, and to listen and record suggestions and comments from the communities.

In April 2022, two Russian corporations Nornickel and Rosatom signed an agreement of intent to implement joint projects spanning the development of the Kolmozerskoye lithium deposit in the Murmansk region and further processing of lithium raw materials. Kolmozerskoye is the largest and most promising untapped lithium ore deposit in Russia.

The parties also discussed basic approaches to ethnographic and sociological research. The company confirmed its intention to collect and verify all possible information on the subjects, nature and scale of traditional trades, sacred sites and burials, as well as identify potentially affected people, and make detailed maps of the area.

The research will be carried out with the involvement of leading scientific institutions and in cooperation with Sámi, Nenets and Komi people.