My research shows that Saami people often experience discrimination and bullying in Norway today. Lately, we have seen public anti-Saami sentiments and hatred reaching alarming levels. The Saami are subjected to anti-Saami expressions in the form of coarse words, Saami jokes, violence, online hate-speech and fake joiking, and this must be taken seriously. Now is the time for a change in attitude and for reconciliation to take place, and the Norwegian government, together with the Sami Parlament should be a driving force in accomplishing this. This is because the basis for the fight against discrimination is respect for human dignity and the idea that everyone should have the same formal rights. As an indigenous people in Norway, the Saami are afforded special protections allowing them the possibility to develop their languages, culture and way of life.
About me: My name is Ketil, and I am from Norwegian – Sami descent. My people came to Norway from the Swedish part of Samiland, in the middle of the 18th century. They were predominantly reindeer herders and, several of my family members continue this tradition today. My ancestors lived a nomadic lifestyle in the northern part of Scandinavia for hundreds of years. They used the coastline of Northern Norway in the summertime for grazing their reindeer and settled in the Jukkasjearvi region in Sweden during the winter months. Due to several historical events however, they decided to settle down in Hinnoya, the biggest island in Norway, where they continue to reside today.
In 1994, I took a long detour from my small siida (family) to study and work at the University of Tromsø. More important, my University education gave me the opportunity to learn more about my Sami identity, culture, history and more recently, health issues. I strive to use this knowledge that I have learned about my indigenous people in ways that would benefit them. For instance, by giving lectures on Sami identity, culture and health to several Sami organizations.
By formal training, I have Ph.D. in Public Health. Prior to starting my Doctoral program in Public Health in The Centre for Sami Health Research, I worked as an Associate professor in the Faculty of Education, at the Tromsø University College.
The spring 2011 I defended my dissertation:
a pioneering research project on the Sami in Norway and their health conditions, both registered and self-reported. My work has already received positive public attention.
Read also one of my last publised article: Ethnic discrimination and psychological distress: a study of Sami and non-Sami populations in Norway. Transcult Psychiatry. 2012 Feb;49(1):26-50.
The other articles in my thesis you find at pubmed.com