Indigenous Economic Development in times of COVID-19 – 15 December 2020

STATEMENT OF SÁMI PARLIAMENT CHAIR OF BUSINESS-COMMITTE  STEFAN MIKAELSSON 15.12.2020,                  at the OECD – Filac webinar Indigenous Economic Development in times of Covid-19;  Mitigating the effects and lessons for the future.

Your Excellenciesdistinguished guests, ladies & gentlemen, sisters & brothers.

Greetings from Sápmi!

I would like to thank the organisers for the opportunity to bring forward some thoughts about prevailing conditions during society’s shutdown, but also about the possibilities that can be sensed in the distance.

The Sámi people, our culture and livelihoods are often missing from official statistics in the Kingdom of Sweden.                     It is as if we are not such a valuable part of the dominant society that there is a need to report the existence of our culture and traditional livelihood in the statistics as well.

But when it’s the darkest day, it can lighten.

Exactly one week after I was elected chairman of the Business Committee in August 2017, an invitation arrived to participate in a kick-off for an OECD project. It took place the 19 september 2017 in Wendake First Nation in Kanada.

And on March 27, 2019, the OECD launched the report Linking the Indigenous Sami People with Regional and Rural Development in Sweden

In short, the report recommends these conclusions:

To strengthen policies and programs: for example by including the Sámi in regional development programs and rural development, addressing obstacles in regulations and

economic conditions, strengthen support opportunities and understand that investments in Sámi culture and education are investments in economic development.

To strengthen the links between the Sámi and regional development work: by increasing cooperation with Sámi society, clarifying the Sámi right to consultation, taking into account Sámi land use in regional community planning, clarifying responsibility for Sámi issues between different authorities and ministries and establishing mechanisms for coordination and dialogue between different levels of government.

In May this year, the closure of certain parts of society’s normal activities had begun. But then the Business Committee chosed to carry out a survey with 12 relevant questions addressed to individual Sami entrepreneurs.

The online survey could be answered between the period June 24-September 1, 2020. The survey could be answered by everyone and it was voluntary. A total of 122 people responded and this number are to be considered as the mininum-numbers.  

We now have answers to questions like

Has your business been affected by the Corona pandemic? 52.5% answered yes,

Has your company applied for financial support due to the Corona pandemic? 85.2% answered no,

How has your customer base been affected? 88.9% answered It has decreased,

How has your turnover been affected? 94.4% answered It has decreased,

How do you deal with the effects of Coronapandemin on your business? 66.7% answered I am trying to develop current business.

What need do you have for support for your business based on the current situation? 59.0% answered competence development and 44.4% answered Investment support.

Thanks to the OECD report, and among other items as the survey conducted during the summer, we now have better opportunities than before to be able to retain and develop small-scale Sami livelihoods and this in the middle of the growth economy’s Europe.

Sámi parliament Business Committee presented these views and included a total of four political  documents that strengthened our case, to the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation this previous Friday 11 December. Never before have we with such clearly stated facts partly about the importance of indigenous livelihood and partly with facts about how extensive this culture is, to a Swedish ministry.

We will also as a follow up the the meeting with the department, presents our request and demand the swedish government to react progressive and involve indigenous entreprenours in the solution.

What we learned and will take with us is the demand and request to be able to present reliable and trueworthy facts, about our indigenous livelihood and the economical footprints that we create also in the midst of growth economy in Europe.

It is crucial that we can establish the data for our indigenous people and livelihoods and can own & controll the right to them.

We also observed the resilience thats inbulid in an indigenous culture & livelihoods but thats not any news to us, however there is also a need to delivers this kind of facts to the dominating society and the state agencies.

Thank you so much for Your attention.

/Stefan Mikaelsson,                                                                           Chair of business-committe of Sámi parliament.

Indigenous Economic Development in times of COVID-19 – 15 December 2020