Friday, September 22, 2006

Sámi Youth Leaders Say People Question Role of Christianity in the Past

Being both Sámi and Christian, is difficult says youth leader

Young Sámi leaders have noted challenges that are everyday experiences for an indigenous community, alluding to contradictions they feel there are between being Sámi and Christian.

"Some youth say they can't at the same time be Sámis and Christians with all their hearts. The problem is that my culture doesn't know of separation between religion and everyday life because the religion is who I am, and I'm Sámi," said Inga Marie Nordstrand.

"When people learn about my identity they presume that I live in a lávvu (tent) and that I have a herd of reindeers. Being traditional means to live in a continuity of values, not living life we did 500 years ago." She also says that Sámi youth often ask: "How can you be a Christian knowing what they had done to us?"

Noted another youth leader, Kirsti Guvsám, in presenting a program about youth work in her community, "'Sámi identity and Christian spirituality' is the name of a project launched in 2000. It gives a place to Sámi youth where they can meet and build networks to grow as Christians, as a Sámi, and to bear the meaning of the past."

For her part Nordstrand said, "Young people need role models from their particular context. That's why we initiated our project: No one told us to do it."

The project began with camps as an opportunity for Sámi youth to meet. It is undertaken in different local backgrounds. This is because there is difference between Sámi in the south and the north of Norway on several dimensions – ranging from language dialect, to customs and spirituality noted Nordstrand.

The project was so popular among the youth that they decided to continue it. Soon they realized they also needed knowledge about the history of the Sámi people. That's how an educational program about pre-Christian Sámi religion started.

Les gens s'interrogent sur le passé du Christianisme au Sapmi

Inga Marie Nordstrand note la tension entre être Sámi et être chrétien pour beaucoup de jeunes qui considèrent qu'ils ne peuvent pas être l'un et l'autre de tout leur coeur. "Le problème, c'est que ma culture ne connaît pas de séparation entre la religion et la vie quotidienne, parce que la religion c'est qui je suis, or je suis Sámie!"

L'image qu'elle renvoit souvent lorsqu'elle dit qu'elle est S
ámie, c'est celle d'éleveurs de rennes vivant sous le lavvu (tente) traditionnel. Pourtant, pour elle, la tradition signifie avant tout la préservation de valeurs, pas le maintien d'un mode de vie vieux de 500 ans.

Kirsti Guvsám, elle a présenté le projet Identité Sámie et spiritualité chrétienne lancé par le Conseil de la jeunesse de l'Église de Norvège, qui a permis la rencontres de jeunes Sámis du Nord et du Sud du pays et a été le point de départ pour une formation sur les religions pré-chrétiennes : "Un moyen de redécouvrir l'histoire de notre peuple."


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