Historical dates

1809          

The border between Sweden and Finland is established. Tornedalen is divided into two realms and the Finnish-speaking population becomes a minority in Sweden.

1842          

Primary school is created. Lessons are taught in both Sami and Finnish.

1869          

Teachers who teach these two languages receive a bonus. Moreover, Sami and Finnish teaching aids are developed.

1873          

A collection of laws and regulations are translated into Finnish. This includes laws and regulations on municipality government, census registration, district courts, criminal law, church law, contract regulation, transfer of ownership, title deeds, poverty relief, hunting and fishing (in Torne älv, the river by the border). One thousand copies are printed, most of which are delivered to the Luleå county administrative board to hand out to civil servants and municipal executive boards.

1874          

‘Finnbygdsanslaget’ (the Finnish community appropriation) is established to expand and develop primary schools in Tornedalen. During this period, two special seminars for primary school teachers are established – one in Sami, one in Finnish.

1875          

Primary school teacher seminars are launched in Haparanda. The ability to speak Finnish is made an entry requirement.

1886          

The 1886 Reindeer Grazing Act defines reindeer husbandry as a Sami livelihood.

1888          

National schools are introduced in Tornedalen and Swedish is the required language of instruction.

1899          

Finnish is no longer an entry requirement for primary school teacher seminars.

1903          

The first work cottages (vocational schools for poor children) are established and Swedish subsequently becomes the only permitted language.

1904          

The Diocese of Luleå is established. One reason for this is the Swedification of Tornedalen.

1906          

Selma Lagerlöf’s geography textbook The Wonderful Adventures of Nils is published. Tornedalen and other areas where people speak Meänkieli are excluded.

1912          

Finnish is abolished from primary school teacher seminars.

1916          

Investments are made in library services. Libraries are tasked with spreading Swedish literature in Tornedalen. They are not allowed to display Finnish literature on their shelves.

1916–17    

Teaching aids especially adapted to efforts of Swedification in Tornedalen are printed.

1919          

The Church of Sweden starts holding confirmation classes exclusively in Swedish.

1921          

‘Finnbygdsutredningen’ (the Finnish community investigation) establishes that the population agreed that Swedish should be the only language of instruction and that Swedish was its true first language. Dissenter Wanhainen questioned the approach and conclusions, such as the claim that Finnish-speaking children do not need to learn Finnish in school as they already know the language.

1922          

The State Institute for Racial Biology is established.

1935          

The Government decides to reinstate Finnish as a voluntary subject in secondary school.

1940          

The school system is separated from the Church of Sweden. Churches stop being responsible for schools due to secularisation and societal changes.

1954          

Work cottages are municipalised.

1957          

The Riksdag decides to lift local bans on speaking Finnish in schools.

1957          

Libraries in Tornedalen are allowed to stock Finnish literature.

1958          

Bishop Jonzon presents a study by the state and church that takes a more inclusive approach to Sami and Finnish.

1965          

The Riksdag strengthens its previous decision: “Forbidding children to speak Finnish in school and during recess is prohibited.”

1969          

Lgr 69 (the national curriculum for compulsory schools in 1969) enters into force. Home language instruction becomes a part of education.

1977          

Home language instruction is further developed in the Home Language Instruction reform. The Norrbotten County School Board develops teaching aids in Tornedal Finnish to promote active multilingualism.

1981          

The National Association of Swedish Tornedalians – Torniolaaksolaiset (STR-T) – is established.

1999          

Tornedalians become one of Sweden’s five recognised national minorities.

1999          

Tornedal Finnish is officially recognised in Sweden and is called Meänkieli.

2000          

Sweden ratifies the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages.