Sámi language lecturer voted Finland's first Sámi of the Year

Sámi language lecturer Outi Länsman has been named Finland’s first Sámi of the Year. The selection was announced at the Turku Book Fair on Saturday by Pentti Pieski, chair of the City Sámi organisation, which represents city-dwelling members of the country’s indigenous community.

Jagi sápmelaš 2015 Outi Länsman
Outi Länsman (centre) poses with Pentti Pieski of the City Sámi association and Jenni Haukio, one of the main organisers of the Turku Book Fair. Image: Pirita Näkkäläjärvi / Yle

Sámi language and culture lecturer Outi Länsman was named Finland’s first Sámi of the Year on Saturday at the Turku Book Fair.

A panel of eight Sámi organisations conferred the honour on Länsman for what they described as "being open-minded, keeping her eye on the future and highlighting the essence of the Sámi with a positive spirit".

Länsman said she wants to advance awareness of the Sámi people among Finns and future generations and to encourage the Sámi to embrace their culture and become familiar with Sámi issues.

"I hope that Finns will get to know Sámi culture and that awareness of the Sámi as the EU’s only indigenous group grows. This will ensure that we give the Sámi a greater voice and create opportunities to strengthen the status of the Sámi in Finland," Länsman said.

The 43 year-old was born into a reindeer herding family in the town of Angeli in Inari, northern Finland. She graduated with a master’s degree in arts from the University of Oulu and worked as a Sámi language lecturer with the university’s Giellagas Institute from 2004 to 2009.

She then moved on to the Sámi Education Centre, where she continues to teach Sámi language and culture. In addition to teaching, she is a spokesperson for Sámi affairs. Länsman is also a reindeer herder and enjoys handicraft.

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