Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sámi President Says Church Apology Has Created Expectations of Respect

Indigenous from throughout the world discuss issues near Arctic Circle

The president of Norway's Sámi people has told indigenous people from throughout the world meeting near the Arctic Circle that the Church and religious communities have played a vital role in promoting indigenous issues in her country and internationally.

"The Sámi parliament is deeply indebted for the work that religious communities perform locally nationally and at the international level to promote indigenous issues," said Aili Keskitalo in Karasjok, the seat of the Sámi Parliament.

The 38-year-old Sámi president, who juggles her post with a career as a mother, was speaking at the 20th September opening of an LWF Consultation entitled "An Indigenous Communion", with participants from all continents.

Keskitalo is the youngest president of the Sámi, a group of indigenous people, most of whom live in the northern parts of Norway, but who straddle Finland, Sweden and Russia as well.

She spoke of the importance to the Sámi people of an apology by the Church of Norway in 1997 for discrimination her people had suffered.

"While such an apology implies acknowledgement of historical relationships, it also engenders expectations that the church's activities will show respect for the communities in which they operate, said Keskitalo.

Elected as president in 2005 for four years, Keskitalo is the first woman to hold the post. The Sámi president has a masters degree in public information, gained in Copenhagen, Denmark, and she is the author of two books, one of the number of women in the Sámi Parliament.

La présidente du parlement Sámi évoque la demande de pardon de l'Église de Norvège

Face aux représentants rassemblés à Karasjok, Aili Keskitalo, présidente du parlement Sámi a souligné le rôle vital joué par l'Église dans la reconnaissance et la défense des droits des peuples indigènes.

Aili Keskitalo a rappelé la demande de pardon que l'Église de Norvège a exprimé en 1997 pour les discriminations subies par son peuple : "Une telle démarche demande, certes, une reconnaissance des liens historiques mais engendre aussi l'attente que les activités de l'Église respecteront désormais les peuples au sein desquels elle opère."

Cette jeune femme de 38 ans, qui jongle entre ses fonctions et son rôle de mère, titulaire d'un master en communication et auteure de deux livres, est la première femme élue à cette charge, depuis 2005.

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