Church leaders announced last week that a public apology will be made on two occasions: first in worship at the church General Synod Assembly in November at Uppsala Cathedral and next at a Sámi church conference in Luleå in October 2022.
The church will apologize to the country’s Sámi community for centuries of “mistreatment and complacency,” including the church’s promotion of “nomad” schools, an educational system that suppressed Sámi culture, language, and separated children from their families.
In 2019, the Sámi Council of the Church of Sweden, which was formed in 1996, and the central board of the church agreed that such an apology would be the first step toward ongoing reconciliation between the Church of Sweden and the Sámi people.
A paper on the historical relations between the Sámi people and the Church of Sweden, “The Sámi and the Church of Sweden” published in 2016, revealed that the church also “participated” in efforts to collect Sámi remains and in racial biological studies of the Sámi people.
“Now the long-term work of building a good and respectful relationship between the Sámi people and the Church of Sweden can begin. Sámi religion and living Sámi spirituality will enrich and give new dimensions to the activities of the Church of Sweden,” said Ingrid Inga, chairperson of the Sámi Council of the Church of Sweden and a past president of the Sámi Parliament.