FINLAND: Immigration and race in Finland

Finland is a relatively homogeneous country that has not historically had a lot of immigration from outside of Europe, however, it is an active EU member with a cosmopolitan population (especially with the urban and young) and is increasingly accepting more immigrants and refugees. With that, I’ve been learning more with some interesting perspectives on racism and immigration to Finland, one from Finnish/Nigerian vlogger Olivia at My Finland Story about her experiences as an immigrant to Finland. She breaks down the types of responses she faces – occasional outright racism, more frequently subtle discrimination. She has a really good blog post here detailing her experience, as well as video on it:

She points out an interesting experience that the small but vocal nationalists react to Finns who are open to immigration as “traitors” – something echoed in this hate comment (at 2:20) sent to Finnish vlogger Aleksi Himself:

And for some deeper nuance, there’s an excellent little bit of reporting form France 24 from 2016 – interviewing refugees from Iraq, discussing migrants who leave Finland to return to their country of origin, and the rise of right wing political parties. There’s a very interesting interview where they set up a discussion between a young Finnish woman who works for an NGO for social justice and a nationalist MEP from the right wing True Finns party.

As a Canadian, I won’t pretend there isn’t racism in my own country – there absolutely is, both towards Indigenous people and to Canadians of colour. However, it’s clear there’s a specific point we diverge with most European countries – in Canada there is a deeply ingrained feeling that immigration is a positive, or at least necessary, thing. Opinion seems much more mixed in Finland. That being said, Canada has been promoting immigration as a national good for the last 60 years – the above interview highlights that large-scale immigration, especially refugee claims, is much newer for Finland.

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