Thursday, 27 March 2014

European Action Week Against Racism: Hameenlinna


At the ARX art school for kids, Africa Day, as part of the European Week against Racism

Our first week here was spent at a number of music and art events to celebrate the European Action Week Against Racism.  We went to a one event at the Tourist Office/ Kela (Social Insurance Institution of Finland/Benefits office) in the city centre and a kids African arts and music day at the fantastic ARX cultural centre for children.

Immigrant services here strike me as comprehensive/ really well organised/ non-bureaucratic, with a mixture of statutory services and the Third Sector.  Free Finnish language classes are offered on a continual basis to all immigrants and are advertised everywhere in a range of languages.  As 'immigrants' ourselves we are entitled to free translation services when dealing with officialdom. 

Hameenlinna has a small population of only 66,829 and in 2011 the city had around 2000 inhabitants whose first language was not Finnish.  The main groups of immigrants are from Somalia, Russia, Estonia and Sweden...

With the rise in popularity of the True Finn party, and constant distortion of the facts about asylum seekers/immigrants/migration in the right-wing press these events are all the more necessary.   I wonder what changes in European attitudes to asylum/migration my two daughters, Malika and Ameenah, who are half-Morroccan will see in their lifetime?  I have heard some pretty questionable comments about North-Africans in Finland and read stories in the Helsinki Times about racism towards the sizable Muslim population so unfortunately these weeks against racism must keep going for now...

I plan to go to the third sector organisation called Settlementi in the morning to find out more about these issues as they are running a once a month, multicultural café for mums and babies...

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