Last week the Balsfjord to Hammerfest power line received final approval from the Norwegian government (Ministry of Petroleum and Energy). Construction can now begin. This is a major investment by Statnett (3-4 billion NOK) in a 420 Kv power line that will be 360 km long, 40 metres wide and cross 8 municipalities (Statnett).
It will cross 30 reindeer herding districts in northern Norway and have dramatic impacts on some districts, according to herders. Herders have been vociferous in their opposition to the project and have asked for it either shelved or that significant route alterations be undertaken, or that areas critically effected could have submarine/underground construction.
It will particularly impact on calving country. Research shows that the reindeer avoids areas from one to four kilometers from the disturbance, particularly females with calves. This causes pressure in other areas of these regions.
Miessemánu: In northern Sami language, the month of May is called Miessemánu, or ‘reindeer calf month’, and it is this time of year that the cycle of life continues in the world of reindeer herding. For reindeer and herders life starts anew across the Sami area, as reindeer are not only giving birth to new calves but they are on the move, most particularly in Norway and Sweden.
In many districts, it is time to leave the winter pastures and travel overland to the summer pastures and Reindeer and their herders are travelling over ancient and well worn migratory paths often to the coast, mainly by walking, sometimes by boat, and occasionally by truck to reach their summer pastures. It is also a dangerous time for reindeer – predators are on the move too, and reindeer calves are food for lynx, wolverine, eagles and some bears and wolves. Many herders lose as many as half of the calves born to their animals, so it is a time for whole families to take part in watching and moving with the herd.
So here’s to Miessemánu, travel safe, arrive alive..
Last week the 9th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeeting wrapped up in the city of Iqaluit, the territorial capital of Nunavut, Canada. This meeting marked the conclusion of Canadian Chairmanship and set the main objectives for the next two years of the USA Chairmanship. This meeting will bring together ministers of the Arctic States and high-level representatives of the indigenous Permanent Participant organizations.
The Association of World Reindeer Herders delegation (which included ICR Director Anders Oskal, WRH Chair Mikhail Pogodaev and ICR project coordinator Alena Gerasimova, WRH is an accredited Observer to the Arctic Council) was present for the meeting to deliver the final report and executive summary of the EALLIN project on reindeer herding youth.
At the meeting the ministers signed the Iqaluit declaration, which highlights the achievements of the Arctic Council during Canadian chairmanship (2013-2015) and defines the main directions of the Council for the US Chairmanship (2015-2017).
“It is with great pride that we signed the Iqaluit Declaration here in Canada’s North,” said the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Canada’s Minister and Chair for the Arctic Council. “Canada has put Northerners at the forefront of the Arctic Council’s agenda, and we will continue working to ensure that the Council’s work benefits the people who live there.”
Once again, as in Kiruna in 2013, Secretary John Kerry underlined the importance of indigenous peoples’ role of shaping decisions in the Arctic Council:
“…This underlines the US commitment to collaborate closely with Arctic indigenous peoples in their Chairmanship, as they indeed do with their co-leadership of our new Arctic Council project on food”, says Anders Oskal, Executive Director of ICR and project lead of the new Arctic Council EALLU Project. “This is key as Arctic change and globalization are now taking an ever stronger hold of the circumpolar reindeer herding areas”, he concludes.
PRESS RELEASE ON THE OCCASION OF THE ARCTIC COUNCIL MINISTERIAL (Download as a PDF)
April 24, 2015: Iqaluit, Canada
Reindeer Herding Youth Take Action on Arctic Change
Young Reindeer Herders Deliver Strong Message to Arctic Foreign Ministers at the 9th Arctic Council Ministerial in Canada
“For us, the reindeer is everything. If we lose the reindeer we lose our language, our culture, our traditions and the knowledge to move in the nature.”
[Participant at the EALLIN workshop in Jokkmokk, 2013]
A unique project called EALLIN involving reindeer herding youth from Russia, Finland, Sweden and Norway has delivered a 120-page report, executive summary and recommendations to the Artic Council Ministerial meeting in Canada today. More than 160 indigenous youth from multiple regions in Russia, Mongolia, Finland, Sweden and Norway participated in 12 community based workskops over four years. “EALLIN” means ‘life’ in the Sami language and the project was backed by Norway, the Russian Federation and the Saami Council. EALLIN calls attention to the serious challenges faced by young reindeer herders, such as mental health, a lack of appropriate education and a lack of participation in local community development.
Reindeer herding youth are the future of reindeer herding, and the strong message from engaged youth was that they wanted to continue herding reindeer, as it ‘a good life’. However, there are many issues and challenges that are making life ‘not so good’ everywhere where reindeer are herded. EALLIN brought young reindeer herders of the taiga and tundra together to bring their voices to the Arctic Council. Reindeer herdings youth in the Circumpolar North are on the frontlines of monitoring the rapid ongoing changes in the Arctic, therefore, their knowledge and skills are key for their future existence in their home pastures and territories.
“Our peoples are undergoing dramatic and historical changes in our homelands, changes that we have never seen in the millenia-old histories of the reindeer herding peoples of the north” states Arctic Council EALLIN Project Lead Dr Mikhail Pogodaev, the Executive Chair of Association of World Reindeer Herders (WRH).
“We know enough about the changes to act”, concludes Anders Oskal, Project Co-Lead and Co-Author of the IPCC 5th Report. “We don’t need more assessments to understand, basically, we have to do things differently now if these societies and cultures are to survive and thrive under the Arctic boom – and bust”. And doing things differently is exactly what the EALLIN report calls for.
Delivered to Arctic Council: “Youth – The Future of Reindeer Herding Peoples – Executive Summary” and “Youth – The Future of Reindeer Herding Peoples”, Full Project Report 120 pages,
Downloads available at eallin.org
The office manager of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry Mikkel Anders Kemi was recently in Inuvik for the 80th anniversary of the introduction of reindeer herding to Canada. Mikkel Anders is also a reindeer herder so he knows a thing or two about herding. While there, he strapped on a GoPro camera got on his snowmobile to assist in the annual migration of the Canadian herd which numbers some 3000 reindeer. CBC North have posted the video here which you can see below. CBC North also posted a longer article about the introduction of reindeer to Inuvik which you can read here.
Herding reindeer by snowmobile in Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T.
Here's what it feels like to be a reindeer herder. Mikkel Kemi, a Saami from Norway, strapped a GoPro to his head while he was out on the tundra outside Tuktoyaktuk. Thanks Kemi and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation for sharing this video. Full story: cbc.ca/1.3014151
Posted by CBC North on Sunday, April 5, 2015
Grants for NOS-HS Humanities and Social Sciences Workshops
Mar 31, 2015 02:31 pm
The Joint Committee for Nordic Research Councils for the Humanities and the Social Sciences (NOS-HS) and the Swedish Research Council invite proposals for funding for a series of workshops.
Arctic Academy in Korea in August 17–22, 2015 call for student nominations
Mar 31, 2015 01:04 pm
UArctic and the Korea Maritime Institute (KMI) are pleased to announce an opportunity for students from UArctic member institutions to participate in a pilot of the Arctic Academy in Korea – a one-week study program in August 17 –22, 2015 at KMI together with students from Korean universities.
High North Programme 2013–2018: Call for applications
Mar 31, 2015 10:06 am
Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education (SIU) invites Norwegian higher education institutions to apply for funding in cooperation with institutions in Canada, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Russia and the U.S. within the High North Programme.
The new Institute of High Biomedical Technologies
Reindeer Herders from Norway and Russia Visit Inuvik for Celebration of 80th Anniversary of Canadian Reindeer Husbandry
Reindeer herders were invited to Inuvik by Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) to celebrate the 80th Anniversary of Canadian Reindeer Husbandry, where they can also share their experience in reindeer herding and food culture, and present exhibition in traditional handicraft.
Many might consider reindeer herding to be some kind of idyllic life. But it has its darker side. Anxiety, depression and the struggle for land are eroding the powers and vitality of young herders, and this appears to be particularly the case in Sweden at the present time, though anecdotally it is known that this is a challenge for young people across the world of reindeer husbandry. In Sweden, 1 in 3 young herders (18-29) have considered suicide.
Three excellent articles in NRK Sapmi by Liv Inger Somby this last week on this difficult topic. The first is an interview with Petter Stoor, a Sami psychologist who works at SANKS (Samisk nasjonalt kompetansesenter – psykisk helsevern go rus), based in Karasjok, Norway. SANKS is now the only institution in the Nordic countries that has expertise in culturally adapted suicide prevention among Sami, including culturally and linguistically adapted clinical psychiatry. Stoor stated in the article
There are complex reasons [for suicide]. Reindeer herding is a confrontational environment on many different levels. Everyday is very tough with the struggle for land. Constantly one has to fight in order to operate a profitable pastoralism. The range is huge and very complex, ranging from external to internal conflicts and family problems, which can lead to the youth gets tough in everyday life. Many feel their situation as heavy, they cannot mastered their defeats.
The Canadian Ambassador to Finland, Andrée N. Cooligan took the opportunity of a work trip to Hetta to hop over the border to visit the offices of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR). Her visit coincided with the visit to ICR of the Director General of The Department of Sami and Minority Affairs, Bjørn Olav Megard. This visit coincidentally followed Ambassador Cooligans’ visit to the University of Lapland where she met with the Rector, Mauri Ylä-Kotola, who is a new member of the ICR Board.
The Department of Sami and Minority Affairs has chief responsibility for formulating and coordinating the state’s policies towards the Sami population and the national minorities.
Canada is the outgoing chair of the Arctic Council and plans are afoot to present the final ICR/WRH EALLIN deliveries to the upcoming Arctic Council Ministerial in Iqaluit next month, the future EALLU project and ICR were able to inform the Ambassador about the work of ICR and the Association of World Reindeer Herders and discuss plans for the upcoming 80th anniversary of reindeer herding in Canada, in Inuvik.