Self-Reported Experience of Discrimination against Samis in Norway

Ketil Lenert Hansen

New research shows that many Samis report experiencing various forms of discrimination. The aim of this chapter is to give updated information on the challenges of discrimination Samis face in Norway. We will survey the occurrence of self-reported incidents of discrimination among adult Samis between the age of 18 and 69 years, study where discrimination happens, identify who discriminates and how an individual might respond to being discriminated against.

The figures are based on qualitative data collected in 2012 from 11,600 individuals (both Sami and majority Norwegians), from 25 municipalities in the five northernmost counties in Norway. The study is part of a health and living conditions investigation in areas with Sami and Norwegian communities, called the SAMINOR 2 survey, which was a questionnaire sent out to municipalities in Northern Norway and Trøndelag.

In the sample, approximately one in five experienced discrimination. About a third of those who had been discriminated against, say that the incident happened in the last two years. Samis experience discrimination much more frequently than majority Norwegians. Samis with strong Sami ties report the highest incidence of discrimination, both in the last two years and earlier.

The most common form of discrimination reported by Samis was ethnic discrimination, followed by discrimination based on gender and geographical affiliation. Sami women reported the highest rates of gender discrimination.

Samis experience discrimination in several arenas. The most common is at school, work and in the local community. Additionally, many Samis report discrimination in public, on the internet and at stores or restaurants. Samis, to a greater extent than majority Norwegians, have and still experience discrimination from fellow students, teachers and other employees at school, work colleagues, public sector employees, other ethnic groups (majority population), strangers and other Samis. Even though many Samis experience discrimination, few file reports with The Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombudsman (LDO- Likestillings- og diskrimineringsombudet).