Do you speak one of Sweden’s five national minority languages?

Do you speak Finnish, Yiddish, Meänkieli, Romany or Sami? If so, you have certain rights pursuant to the Swedish National Minorities and Minority Languages Act (SFS 2009:724) when you communicate with public authorities and public-sector organisations. The Swedish Language Act (2009:600) also contains provisions regarding your right to develop your language and requires public-sector organisations to safeguard the national minority languages.

Minority languages shall be protected and promoted

Your rights depend on which language you speak, as there are enhanced safeguards for certain languages. However, what Finnish, Yiddish, Meänkieli, Romany and Sami have in common is that the public sector – i.e., any activity performed by central government, regional authorities or municipalities – has a specific responsibility to protect and promote the languages. This applies everywhere in Sweden, hence also in Skellefteå. Skellefteå Municipality shall therefore:

  • promote your opportunities as a member of a national minority to retain and develop your language and culture in Sweden;
  • promote the opportunities of children to develop their cultural identity and their minority language;
  • inform you of your rights as a member of a national minority; and
  • provide you with opportunities to exert influence over matters concerning you as a member of a national minority.

Certain municipalities in Sweden are in what is known as administrative areas for one or more of national minority languages. In these areas, speakers of that language have even stronger rights. Skellefteå is part of the Finnish administrative area, meaning that the Swedish Finnish minority has special rights in Skellefteå Municipality. As a Swedish Finn, you have the right to:

  • preschool activities for your child entirely or to a significant extent in Finnish;
  • if you have been granted home care services or a place in a nursing home, care entirely or to a significant extent in Finnish; and
  • use Finnish in your oral or written communications with the municipality.

Finnish, Sami and Meänkieli have enhanced protection nationwide

Finnish, Sami and Meänkieli have enhanced protection all over Sweden, even outside the administrative areas for the language in question. In Skellefteå, you therefore have the right to use these national minority languages when communicating with the municipality, as long as there is someone available at the municipality who speaks the language. You are also entitled to elderly care in Finnish, Sami or Meänkieli if nursing and social care staff have the relevant language skills.

Skellefteå Municipality is part of a Finnish administrative area. This means that Swedish Finns living in the municipality have specific rights pursuant to the National Minorities and Minority Languages Act. This includes the right to:

  • preschool activities for your child entirely or to a significant extent in Finnish. The child does not need to have basic knowledge of Finnish nor to speak the language at home;
  • as a pupil, mother tongue tuition in Finnish, even if you do not speak Finnish at home. You do not need any basic knowledge of Finnish, as you can study beginners Finnish in school;
  • elderly care in Finnish if you have been granted home care services. You are also entitled to be cared for by Finnish speaking staff if you have been granted a place in a nursing home in Skellefteå Municipality; and
  • use Finnish in your oral or written communications with the municipality.
  • For further information, please contact Customer Services on 0910 73 50 00.

If you speak Finnish, Sami or Meänkieli, you have the right to use your minority language in all communications with Region Västerbotten, which is part of the administrative area for Finnish and Sami. You are also always entitled to use Finnish or Sami in written communications with the Parliamentary Ombudsmen (JO), Office of the Chancellor of Justice, Försäkringskassan, the Swedish Tax Agency and the Equality Ombudsman (DO).

Like to know more?

Would like to learn more about the National Minorities and Minority Languages Act and your rights? If so, please visit these websites:

minoritet.se (Link to external website) External link.

Swedish Institute for Language and Folklore (Link to external website) External link..

You can also call Customer Services on 0910 73 50 00 for further information.

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