Invited panel discussions


Panel 1: Minority languages in Finland (ICML XVI, 29 August 2017, Jyväskylä)

Panel 2: Multilingualism and integration in a Swedish-speaking region (ICML XVI, 30 August 2017, Närpes)


Panel 1:
Minority languages in Finland
ICML XVI, 29 August 2017, Jyväskylä

The last few years have brought interesting developments for (historical) language minorities in Finland, both with regard to status of and legislation for these minorities, sociolinguistic changes in the minority groups, how these minority languages are valued, and changing external conditions which influence all this.

This panel brings together language activists from various minority language groups in Finland, academics focusing on these minority languages, and governmental representatives. It will discuss, also from a comparative perspective, the current state of language minorities in Finland, contemporary developments of importance for these groups and concerns about their linguistic futures.

Panel chairs: Maartje De Meulder (University of Namur) and Petteri Laihonen (University of Jyväskylä, ICML XVI chair)


On the panel chair:

Maartje De Meulder’s PhD at the University of Jyväskylä focused on the development of sign language recognition legislation in Finland and Scotland and deaf communities’ aspirations for this legislation. In her recent article “Promotion in times of endangerment: the Sign Language Act in Finland” (Language Policy 16/2, 2017) Maartje has identified common ground with other linguistic and cultural minority groups in Finland. As a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Namur in Belgium she now studies the ethnolinguistic vitality of sign language communities.



  • Henna Huttu is M.Ed and PhD student at the University of Oulu specializing in narrative study of the Roma education. She is currently working at the Ministry of Social and Health focusing on the development of Finland’s national Roma integration strategy and the respective legislation. She has been involved in both Romani language revitalization and standardization, development of different Romani language teaching materials, language nest activities and evaluation concerning the teaching of Romani language.
  • Markku Jokinen is Executive Director of Finnish Association of the Deaf since 2007. International Deaf rights advocate involved in drafting UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as President of the World Federation of the Deaf. He has involved in lifting status of Finnish Sign Language over 30 years and later also Finnish-Swedish Sign Language through language policy programmes and advocating linguistic rights of users of both languages. As a project Co-ordinator of Teacher Training Programme for Finnish Sign Language Users, University of Jyväskylä 1998–2005 he has involved in building basis for Sign Language Centre of University of Jyvaskyla. He got MA in education and graduated from teacher training institution of the same university. He has also postgraduate studies in linguistics, psycholinguistics and sign language linguistics at University of Rochester in USA. He is and has been also President of European Union of the Deaf 2013–2017 and 2017-2021, President of World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) 2004–2011, Honorary President of WFD Vice President of European Union of the Deaf 1998–2003. As well, he is Honorary Doctor of Laws, Gallaudet University 2011, Washington D.C., USA and Honorary Doctor of Philosophy, University of Jyväskylä 2013, Finland.
  • Stanislav ”Stan” Marinets was born 1984 in Estonia and migrated to Finland in 1994. Multilingual since childhood, Master of Arts from Helsinki University (Russian translation-interpretation, Audiovisual translation and Pedagogical studies), since 2013 been working as executive director of FARO – Finland’s Association of Russian-speaking Organizations, an NGO representing the Russian minority in Finland. FARO protects the rights of Russian-speakers and gives Finland’s government  commentaries and reports concerning the demographic, including language. 
  • Anneli Sarhimaa is the professor of the Northern European and Baltic languages and cultures at the University of Mainz since 2002. She coordinated the international, interdisciplinary project ELDIA (European Language Diversity for All, 2010-2013; Sarhimaa got her Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Helsinki in 1999 and was nominated a Docent (associate professor) in Finnic languages and linguistics at the Faculty of Humanities of the Helsinki University in 2002. Since the late 1980s she has investigated Karelian (a Finnic minority language related to Finnish and Estonian and spoken in northwestern Russia) within a number of successive research programmes and with varying linguistic foci. Her latest research project, a case study within the framework of the EU-FP-7 Project ELDIA, was concerned with Karelian as a minority language in Finland and has resulted in several publications, the latest of which is a book to appear in August 2017, Vaietut ja vaiennetut: karjalankieliset karjalaiset Suomessa (‚Surrounded by silence, forced to remain silent: The Karelian-speaking Karelians in Finland’, see
  • Maritta Stoor-Lehtonen (M.A.) is a retired lecturer in speech communication. Mrs Stoor-Lehtonen is a vice-chair in Bárbmu ry, Sami association of inland Finland. She is also a member of advisory board of ethnic relations (ETNO) in Pirkanmaa and Central Finland. 
  • Corinna Tammenmaa is Senior Adviser for Language Affairs at the Ministry of Justice in Finland. She is a specialist on linguistic rights in Finland. She has got broad experience of preparing legislation in different roles. Her area of responsibility is the Language Act, the Sami language Act, the Sign language Act and the Act of Knowledge of Languages Recuired of personel in Public Bodies.  She also prepares the Report of the Government on the application of language legislation that will be given to the parliament during year 2017 and the plan of action to implement the Strategy for the National Languages of Finland. She is also secretary general of The Advisory Board on Language Affairs. Mrs Tammenmaa received her Master of Law degree from the University of Helsinki. She has previously worked at the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, as Special Adviser for the Minister of Migration and European Affairs, as layer at attorney's office and as Secretary of Legislation at the Swedish Parliamentary Group. Mrs Tammenmaa represents the Swedish speaking population in Finland.


Panel 2:
Multilingualism and integration in a Swedish-speaking region
ICML XVI, 30 August 2017, Närpes

In contrast to Finnish-speaking Jyväskylä and Central Finland, the region of Ostrobothnia and the town of Närpes are dominated by Swedish. It is also a region that has a long and successful history of integration of immigrants in Swedish. Multilingualism is clearly present in Närpes, and in a somewhat different way than in Finnish-dominated areas of Finland. This panel focuses on experiences, challenges and possibilities connected to multilingualism and integration in a minority language region. The invited participants include speakers with a multilingual background engaged in integration of immigrants and language teaching in the region, local representatives of business life as well as researchers of Swedish in Finland and political representatives of Swedish speakers in Finland. 


Panel chair: Åsa Palviainen (University of Jyväskylä)


On the panel chair: 

Åsa Palviainen is a Full Professor in Swedish at the Department of Language and Communication Studies at the University of Jyväskylä. Her expertise is in early bi- and multilingualism; language teaching and learning; and language policy discourses in families, education and society with a special focus on the role of Swedish in Finland. She is currently the leader of two research projects on early bilingualism and bilingual pre-primary education in Finland.



  • Azra Arnautovic (BBA), born in Bosnia and Hercegovina, came to Finland with her family in 1992. Her highly multilingual background opens doors both inside and outside Finland: She was raised in Närpes, lives in Helsinki since 2010 and currently studying social psychology at the Swedish School of Social Sciences at the University of Helsinki. 


  • Mikaela Björklund is Chair of the city council of Närpes and the initiator of the municipal language strategy. As a board member of the Swedish Peoples' Party the vitality of the Swedish language and minority languages in Finland, integration  and diversity are current issues on her agenda. She works as teacher educator in foreign language education at Åbo Akademi University. Her PhD was concerned with the premises for English as a foreign language in the Swedish-Medium schools in Finland, bur her current research interests are focussed on the mutual aspects of integration, multilingual perceptions and language use among student teachers in Finland, as well as content and language integrated learning.


  • Lillian Ivars is an Integration coordinator, whose current employer is the Coastal Ostrobothnia Joint Municipality for Social and Health Services, which consists of 5 municipalities; Malax, Korsnäs, Närpes, Kaskö and Kristinestad. She has an almost 30-year experience in working with the integration of refugees and migrant labour. She has planned and led a variety of projects aimed at regional development. Ms Ivars is currently working at a National project called "At home in Finland /A good start in Ostrobothnia". The aim of the project is to create a new general model for integration in the region of Ostrobothnia. She has also been a leader in developing the so called "Närpes Model", a well-known and successful model for integration through the cooperation between municipality, authorities, employers and immigrants.


  • Vava Lunabba is Senior Officer at the Ministry of Justice in the Unit for Democracy, Language Affairs and Fundamental Rights. Her area of responsibility is linguistic rights and specially the Swedish language. Her main tasks are related to promoting the Swedish language, coordinating the implementation of the Action Plan for the Strategy for the National Languages of Finland and preparing the Report of the Government on the application of language legislation. She is the Secretary for the Network of the National Languages. Mrs Lunabba has a degree of Master in Political Science from Åbo Akademi.