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About us

We acknowledge that northern Sweden, including the campus of the Umeå University, is located within Sápmi - the Sámi traditional homelands. Here, Sámi have lived and thrived since time immemorial. The name of the Ume river is thought to be of Sámi origin, and today the city of Ubmeje (Umeå) acknowledges its responsibilities in supporting the re-vitalisation of Sámi culture and language. 

Lávvuo is an Ume-Sámi word that refers to the characteristic Sámi summer dwelling, the Lávvuo (tent hut). The Lávvuo is a well-known symbol for Sámi culture and it reminds us of the promise made to the Sámi people in the Swedish constitution, that “the Sámi people’s opportunities to maintain and develop their own cultural and community life must be promoted”. Being part of a Swedish state university, we are obliged to seek to fulfil this promise. We do this within the area of our focus: the health and well-being of the Sámi people.

We support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, signed by Sweden, where the Sámi are entitled to equal enjoyment of human rights, of the highest achievable standard of mental and physical health, and of self-determination. A statement made during the 7th Sámi conference in Váhčir (Gällivare) relates to this:  

“We are Sámi and we want to be Sámi, without therefore being neither more nor less than other peoples of the world.”

 

Our core values

We use the Lávvuo as our symbol to communicate our core values and remind us of them.

Equity: the Lávvuo is a structure that supports equity. In the Lávvuo, everyone depends on each other for their well-being, as everyone shares the same space. In the Lávvuo, a guest is made to feel welcome and offered something to eat or drink. When lying on soft reindeer hides around the árran (fireplace) one is relaxed and may reflect upon complicated matters with ease, honesty and respect for differing opinions. We strive to be generous towards each other, highlighting that neither any individual nor people are worth more than another, and that all should be treated with dignity and respect. Achieving equity in health is therefore the ultimate goal of our research and education.

Cooperation: the Lávvuo construction is traditionally put together by birch rods supporting each other. When the rods are arranged in this way they form a structure much stronger than each rod by itself. Our rods are made up of our people and what we create together in terms of research, education, research infrastructure, networks, publications and arenas to support dialogue and communicate findings. Through cooperation among ourselves, with colleagues at Umeå University and beyond, we become much stronger than we are as single individuals. In this way, our aims are best supported.

Responsibility: the Lávvuo is a flexible structure traditionally used when moving between different places in the Sámi nomadic lifestyle. That flexibility enables the people to follow the natural rhythm of the migrating reindeer and allow for resources - such as fish in a lake - to replenish its strength before we come back to use it again. In this way, the Lávvuo supports the Sámi philosophy of responsibility towards humans and nature. One should be grateful for what has been given and never take more than one needs. Thus, resources are managed in a sustainable way and ideally, the only trace of those who came before are the stones of the árran and the stash of firewood left for whomever arrives next. In this way, we acknowledge our responsibilities towards each other, to those who came before us and to those who will arrive when we are gone.

 

Our aims

• to conduct research on health and well-being related issues relevant for the Sámi in Sweden;

• to evaluate the impact on Sámi health and well-being of public health and health care initiatives carried out among the Sámi;

• to develop a network of Sámi health and well-being researchers and researchers with an interest in Sámi health research;

• to facilitate and strengthen Sámi influence over Sámi health and well-being, and to cooperate with initiatives that promote Sámi health;

• to train health and medical care personnel in Sámi health and well-being in order to ensure a culturally competent health care workforce for the benefit of Sámi patients and their care providers;

• to establish international collaborative networks with researchers working on Indigenous health

 

How do we operate?

To reach our aims we draw from our core values in realising research and education activities that contribute to strengthen Sámi health and well-being. We believe this is best achieved through establishing collaborative projects that live up to the highest standards of ethical conduct.

- We seek collaborate with appropriate Sámi institutions, organizations and individuals including, but not limited to, the Sámediggi (the Sámi parliament in Sweden), the Sámiid Riikkasearvi (the Union of the Sámi people in Sweden, SSR) and Sáminuorra (the national Sámi youth organization in Sweden).

- We follow the international FPIC-principles, acknowledging the Indigenous peoples right to “free, prior and informed consent” when taking part in research activities. For example, we have an agreement with SSR that guide our research practices when collaborating with them.

- To complement the FAIR-principles (Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability, and Reusability) of data use, we support the establishment of the CARE-principles (Collective benefit, Authority to control, Responsibility and Ethics) regarding Indigenous data sovereignty and try to apply them in our daily research.