Kolibrí Festivaali as a space for giving immigrant families a voice to influence in immigration policies.

Work and family ties have been the most common reason to move to Finland. During last edition we heard 19 different languages been spoken in the festival, and we had in the stage artists and cultural workers from 22 different nationalities; that means that Kolibrí is a space where to listen to family-based immigration’s voices. Voices that rarely are present in public discussion. In order to offer active participation in policy planning process, two original pop-up workshops were organized by the Finnish Ministry of the Interior during Kolibrí Festivaali’s family days, the first one on Saturday 25.9.2021 at Vuotalo, Helsinki and the second one on Sunday 26.9.2021 at the Art Cultural Center Pessi, Vantaa.

Families, artists, volunteers and production team of the festival were invited to create slogans answering to the question: What kind of immigration policy does Finland need? The ministry collected more than 70 answers relating to integration policies, residence permits and refugee status. In order to discuss the topic online (Twitter and Instagram) the Ministry also used the hashtag #maahanmuuttopolitiikka.

Mariana Salgado, a Service Designer of the Ministry of the Interior, facilitated the workshops encouraging participants of the festival to participate in the public policy discussion. The workshops happened in the context of a project setup by the ministry to define long-term objectives for Finland’s comprehensive migration policy. You can read more about this in the blog of the Ministry. “We want to engage in an active dialogue with various stakeholders and offer them opportunities to participate in and influence the work and Kolibrí offered us a valuable platform to reach families interested in this topic”, said Salgado.

According to Salgado’s report Kolibrí’s families were concerned about the wellbeing and integration of all family members. The answers, showed that work is key to integration, and that various participants wished for more assistance in finding work opportunities for both partners. Some pointed out that the validation of foreign university degrees should be streamlined. The participants also highlighted the need for more opportunities for people who do not speak Finnish. They requested not only more flexibility in language courses, but also cultural integration courses that would help them to have a better understanding of Finnish idiosyncrasies. Additionally, many participants stated the need to speed up the decision-making process related to residence permits or for help to facilitate the process. A couple of participants also suggested taking into consideration the grandparents in family immigration policies.

We hope that this initiative will be replicated in other cultural and artistic spaces and in other places of Finland. If you are interested to learn more about the workshops you can read this blog. Also, the Ministry of the Interior is opening the question to everybody. If you did not answer the question during Kolibrí but want to contribute, you can still go to Otakantaa

If you are interested in learning more about Kolibrí as a platform for participation of immigrant’s voices, and have an idea for us to consider write to us at info(at)ninho.fi