Record number of Pioneer Against Prejudice awards

Dozens of high school students as a group in a photo taken from high up.
Photo: Pia Heino

The Pioneer Against Prejudice awards have been given out.

The Finnish Red Cross grants Pioneer Against Prejudice awards each year during the week against racism. The Red Cross districts determine the local recipients. A record number of 11 awards is given out this year.

The award recipients have been exemplary in promoting social participation, equality and accessibility regardless of language, nationality or culture.

Municipal placements, bridge-building, low-threshold basketball

The Pioneer Against Prejudice award recipients include e.g. South Ostrobothnia Folk High School, Kumppanuustalo Hilma community in Hamina, Art Factory Malakta in Malax, the Somali Family Association of Lieksa, Pargas library and the City of Tornio Youth Services.

The Åland district of the Finnish Red Cross grants the award to the Safe Haven  project that promotes gaining municipal placements for quota refugees. Project employees  Dan Sundqvist and Tanja Eklöw are inspiring examples of encounters that promote equality and diversity.

The Helsinki and Uusimaa district awards the recognition to Ala Saeed, who has been a long-term and exemplary bridge-builder between different cultures.One of the founders of the Iraqi Women’s Association, Saeed has raised challenging discussion topics, such as racism between different immigrant groups and cultures.

The Häme district wants to acknowledge the Feeniks Basket Unified  activities in Forssa. This low-threshold basketball activity brings together disabled and non-disabled athletes in an unprejudiced way.

The activities are open for all regardless of background, gender or age.“The power of team sports as a promoter of equality and solidarity is undisputed,” the grounds for the decision state.

The Southeast Finland district highlights the Kumppanuustalo Hilma community activities in Hamina. The door to Hilma is open for everyone and the community encourages good cooperation between all people.

Campaigning youth services, student diversity, integration support

In Lapland, the Pioneer Against Prejudice award is given to the City of Tornio Youth Services for taking a public stand for non-discrimination and against racism.

The Youth Services have campaigned against racism in social media and promoted equality in their premises and activities in an exemplary manner.

The Western Finland district has decided to award the recognition to South Ostrobothnia Folk High School in Ilmajoki. The award is granted on the grounds of the high school’s long-term work for the promotion of immigrant training and refugee integration in the area.

The educational institution is a brave and active anti-racism operator and influencer that sees strength in the diversity of students.

In Oulu, the award is given to Sari Lahdenperä, who has worked as a multicultural youth work coordinator at the City of Oulu since 2010.Equality is the key of Lahdenperä’s work, and she is one of the developers of the Oulu Loves Me event fighting racism.

The Savo-Karelia district grants the award to the Somali Family Association of Lieksa that has promoted the integration of immigrants e.g. by providing apprenticeships.The association has initiated activities in an area with no existing operator network. It has looked for partners in Northern Karelia, elsewhere in Finland and outside the country’s borders.

Library, Mannerheim League for Child Welfare and art centre

Åboland gives the award to Pargas library that welcomes people from all over regardless of age. The library is always willing to offer its facilities for multicultural and anti-racism activities. It has ordered books, magazines and movies in different languages.The library also provides guidance and help with information technology.

The Southwest Finland district grants the award to the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare volunteer coordinator Heidi Karvonen, who is responsible for the Friend for an Immigrant Mum activities in the area.

The award acknowledges the successful building of understanding between cultures. In her work, Karvonen enables the creation of friendships between immigrant mums and volunteer women.

The Swedish-speaking Österbotten district wants to reward Art Factory Malakta in Malax that has since 2007 been a creative centre for artists and other operators, and a meeting place for different people.

The key words for Malakta’s activities are openness and multiculturalism.The centre brings together people regardless of their social class and position or ethnic background.

Due to the coronavirus situation, the Pioneer Against Prejudice awards are given out virtually.