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BBC lists Yle Sámi journalist among 100 most influential women in 2019

Skolt Sámi journalist Sara Wesslin joined the likes of climate activist Greta Thunberg on the BBC list.

Sara Wesslin
Sara Wesslin said her inclusion on the BBC's list is a sign of recognition for the entire Sámi culture. Image: Päivi Mäkelä

UK public broadcaster BBC has named Yle journalist Sara Wesslin one of the world’s most inspiring and influential women in 2019.

According to the BBC, Wesslin, who resides in Ivalo in northern Finland, has worked to actively revive the Skolt Sámi language in Finland in her work as Yle’s Skolt Sámi journalist. She is one of just two such journalists in the world.

Wesslin said she heard of her listing among other illustrious women on Wednesday morning.

"It does feel good. I’ve never received this kind of recognition before."

The list includes artists, athletes, politicians, researchers and activists. One of the best-known in the latter category is Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.

"It makes me speechless to think of the people I have been ranked alongside. It includes activists fighting for human rights and one water advocate working to ensure clean water in the world," Wesslin pointed out.

Skolt Sámi an endangered language

The Sámi are Europe’s only indigenous people. Of the three Sámi languages spoken in Finland, Inari Sámi and Skolt Sámi have long been in danger of disappearing. There are just 300 people left who speak Skolt Sámi, while speakers of Inari Sámi are estimated to be even fewer.

The most-frequently spoken Sámi language in Finland is Northern Sámi.

According to Wesslin, her inclusion on the BBC list also represents important recognition for Sámi culture.

"It’s wonderful that such a small minority culture can be visible in this way. It’s not obvious that our language is still alive. And that is a really big deal."

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