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Keynote speakers for the opening lecture: Marie Persson Njajta

Marie Persson Njajta is a Sami mother of two children living in a Southern Sami area that has been deeply affected by the trauma from State colonial practices. In order to pass her Southern Sami culture on to children, she has served as a human rights defender with special focus on Indigenous peoples’ and children’s rights, a member of The Sami Parliament, and the founder of the organization ”Stop Rönnbäck Nickel Mining Project in Ume River” for years. In 2012, she was honorarily elected as the citizen of the year in the county of Västerbotten. In 2017, she represented The Sami Parliament in the Swedish delegation to the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61).

Marie’s speech for our conference in Sapporo in December is expected to focus on anti-mining activities and indigenous women’s active role in protecting land, water, Indigenous livelihood and health. It is likely to extend into the establishment of a Truth Commission regarding the Sami people in Sweden and the revitalisation of Indigenous art and culture that she has been involved in. Additionally, I (Hiroshi Maruyama) have started collaboration on an equal footing based on mutual respect and friendship with her in addition to Sigrid Stånberg, a long-time South Sami language expert and revitalization leader in Tärna, and Professor Emerita Leena Huss at Uppsala University, concerning the realisation of a healthy life of the Southen Sami in Tärna.