January 1999  

BBC gives voice to Sámi children

A visit to Lapland started a new BBC radio project called ‘A Child of Our Time’. The BBC Radio Drama Department interviewed Sámi children for a radio play which will the first of five plays from different parts of the world, to be broadcast in 2000.

Assisted by Mari Mäkinen from the Finnish Institute, the BBC crew travelled to Inari to talk to Minna Lehtola, 10, and Oula Angeli, 14, about their life experiences and expectations. The interviews were conducted by Kate Rowland, Head of Drama, Radio, and the writer Lee Hall.

During a week of interviews, Minna and Oula told the BBC about their national identity, the environment in which they live and the changes in the traditional means of livelihood such as the "reindeer economy". Proud of their Sámi identity, both interviewees expressed a wish to continue with their traditional life-style.

The Sámi people live in the Northern parts of Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia. They number about 75,000, of whom only about 6,500 live in Finland. Kate Rowland and Lee Hall got the idea for the project when they realised during the war in Rwanda that children’s experiences and opinions about the horrors of war were practically never heard.

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