The Question of Who Owns What Land
Inkeri Lands. The Ingerian people were removed from their homes and thousands were killed or exiled in the 30's and 40's. The Slavs push Westward to the Gulf of Finland. Overrun by the enemy in peace time and war, Ingerian people are exiled away from their homes. Genocide is the term given to these acts by UN in 1948. Their villages are taken and the names are changed. This 1935 Map clearly shows the Inkeri (Ingerian) areas. Most of the former residents have been given a free train ride to remote areas of the country and dumped there with nowhere to go. Lake Ladoga is seen on the top and and the Gulf of Finland on the left.
It is now time for the Ingerians to go back home to their original farms, and develop their language and culture. Ingerians
New Hope For Ingerian People
This is easier said than done. Most have forgotten their language and culture. The Finnish Ministry of Labor and the European Union are financing the four-year project to rebuild the destroyed lives of the Ingerian people, according to Suomen Silta (Finland's Bridge) magazine. The project attempts to give the Ingerian people the hope of an alternative to immigrating to Finland, which is what many younger Ingerians hope for dispite their inability to speak the language. 1.5 million Finmarks was approved by the Finnish government and implementation of the current project was begun in January 1999. Five Finnish ministries are involved: Education, Environment, Forestry, Social & Health - under the coordination of the Ministry of Labor. Wladimir Kokko is the founding coordinator in St. Petersburg, and the only salaried employee.
The aim of the project is employment, in Ingermanland, Estonia and Eastern Karelia, but mainly in the Ingerians own lands. This is a continuation of the 1992 - 1997 assistance project in which 10 retirement homes were built for Ingerians. (Rumours circulating in the west are that at least one or more was taken away from Ingerians by Russians - to be confirmed.) Twenty-five people are being recruited in St. Petersburg to realize these goals. They are trying to get across to the Ingerian people that well-trained, Finnish speaking employees are in big demand in St. Petersburg, now, and that moving to Finland is not the answer to their problems. It is better to stay in their own land and be employed rather than move to Finland and be unemployed, is the message. The establishment of an Ingerian manpower office will further this goal. Automotive and construction trades are examples of available workers.
Student Exchange Programs
The project goals are not limited to economy and housing, but extend to the preservation of the Finnish culture in Ingermanland. The Finnish language is being taught, but a shortage of qualified teachers remains a problem. The Ingerian League classes have been full. Just twenty years ago, nobody thought Finnish was an important language to learn. Today it is different. A student exchange program is being planned at the moment. However, a condition would be that they do not immigrate to Finland. Wladimir Kokko would like to see cheaper visas to allow more Ingerians to visit Finland.
There are 50 Ingerian churches in Russia, of which 18 are in Ingermanland and of these, 15 are in the Finnish language. However, officially they are bilingual.
Since Finland is positioning itself as the gateway to the East, Finnish speakers are in big demand on the other side of the border. The message is: learn Finnish and develop the once great Ingerian culture on the home turf in partnership with Finnish brothers.
Finns further away in Siberia have requested assistance too, but the current budget supports Finns in the immediate geographical area ie. Karelia, Ingermanland and Estonia.
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