At the recent kick-off for the project Arctic PASSION, Tero Mustonen read a powerful statement on behalf of Pauliina Feodoroff, who unfortunately could not be present at the meeting.

The text of the statement is as follows:

Indigenous Female Bodies as Indicators of Change
Author: Pauliina Feodoroff, Skolt Sámi, Finland
Organisation: Snowchange Cooperative and Saa’mi Nue’tt Cultural Organisation, Finlandc

I have noticed that many Sámi women of my generation - who have been born in the intersecting moment of an interrupted traditional world and a transfer into the modern world - have found ourselves, in different scales, working either in defending our waters or our land.

We are being guided by the pain that we feel in our bodies.

Our bodies act as gauges of environmental change: the first indicators and first responders of something happening.

I lead catchment-wide ecological restoration work in Näätämöjoki river in the Sámi home area in Finland.

It is based on the knowledge and observations of human-induced change by our traditional fishermen and reindeer herders.

Indigenous knowledge and Western Science offer us concepts and possibilities to reflect on those changes that the waters in our bodies have known and reminded us of what has happened already much earlier. Changes in temperature, pain and the gradual passing of pain, waves, and intrusions within our bodies are knowledges that are difficult to communicate.

It seems that especially women are more sensitive to receiving messages from their home environments. And, thus, our Indigenous conservation work ends up being no longer a choice but a bodily commitment.

This realisation raises a lot of difficult questions of what or who controls our bodies, especially in this modern space of broken traditions.

Indigenous waters and lands strive to be well and prosper just like our human communities.

Arctic Passion represents a perhaps first-ever system wide attempt to include the special role and knowledge of Indigenous women, and we look forwards to the four years of cooperation.

Pauliina’s work with Snowchange Cooperative on rewilding of Sámi habitats is being recognized internationally as well, with Snowchange Cooperative recently being awarded the prestigious 2021 St. Andrews Prize for theEnvironment

Tero Mustonen from Snowchange delivered a presentation to a panel of judges and University of St. Andrews students on Tuesday October 5th, then participated in a live online event in the evening, where the $100,000 prize was awarded. Tero Mustonen from Snowchange delivered a presentation to a panel of judges and University of St. Andrews students on Tuesday October 5th, then participated in a live online event in the evening, where the $100,000 prize was awarded. 

You can read more about the work of Pauliina and the Snowchange Cooperative here.