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  • Writer's pictureEtsijä -lehti

A portrait of a revolutionary - My journey to liberation

Päivitetty: 23. toukok.


Initially, I drifted into activism out of necessity. Later, when my sense of agency grew and I started seeing the path I wanted to walk in life, I chose it for myself, or rather it felt like a spiritual path the universe was showing me. Something that was unravelling before me.

In my childhood, I was taken into foster care and lost connection to my roots. But to be honest, I never felt a sense of belonging or connection in the first place. All the bureaucratic apparatuses that tried to rid me of my uniqueness only further alienated me from my surroundings. In high school, I became even more detached when I recognised the systemically oppressive nature of the education system, which tried to medicate me into normalcy and punished me for my character and my neurodivergence. I was consistently told that I needed to fall in line with the indoctrination of the status quo. My foster parents further enforced this; they even told me that everything would be easier for them if I did not exist. I disassociated most of my days and stopped caring about trying to fit in, really, I stopped caring about anything at all.

Revolutionary politics gave me a purpose, something to aspire to and hope for in my desperation. I was told over and over again that I was wrong, but I held on to the belief that I was not wrong, society is. It is not me that needs to be fixed. I had hope, that my future and the future of society could be different. Every person around me from my foster parents to my teachers and doctors told me that the most important thing would be, that I can recover enough to be a functional member of society and work as a wage slave. I did not matter, only my capacity to work did. Refusing to fit in drove me deeper into depression and desperation.

"I felt that I had to leave and find my path"

I had to leave behind everything, my abusive family, the violent institutions, and essentially my entire life. I needed to start again from a clean slate, there was no other choice than to kill my old self. I had to get away, I felt that I had to leave and find my path and freedom. It felt like the right and the only option. Through many mistakes, pitfalls, and disappointments I had to make a leap of faith. I left for Spain, where I knew squatting still existed.

Áidna at the Can Vies squat in Barcelona

As I started my travels, I felt intensely alive, so present and for the first time I was truly living for myself. It was not easy though; it was also extremely traumatic. It feels difficult to think about those experiences, where I travelled to the other end of Europe trusting that there would be an open group of like-minded comrades who would welcome me in. They did not. They turned me away and I suffered a nervous breakdown from yet another rejection. I felt lost, desperate, and alone, I felt like I had hit a dead end.

Still, some spark of hope was left in me, and I refused to give up. In retrospect, I also recognise that the events in Barcelona were a necessary part of my journey to becoming who I am today. I learned the hard way, that life does not work out as you plan.

I talked to people and tried to find information on where I could find my place. A person I talked to in Barcelona told me about a land squat, an environmental camp protecting woodlands from mining in Hambach Forest Germany. This was my second leap of faith and my last straw to grasp at.

Áidna at the edge of the Hambach mine. The activists called the mines Mordor.

Once I got to Buir in Germany, the closest habited town to the land squat, I still had the task of finding the camp in the massive forest. On my first day, I failed to find it and returned to the town to sleep the night at the local gas station that had offered me directions earlier in the day, so that I could ask for some more information in the morning.

Before I fell asleep a car stopped by and asked me if I was ok, with a slight feeling of doubt, I told this random stranger what I was looking for. She had lived in the town for years and knew roughly where the camp was and offered to take me there. My final leap of faith was to get into the car and head into the dark forest. When we finally found the camp, I was received with hesitant kindness. I was offered accommodation and they asked me to tell my story. They took me in and thus I found a new home and as it later turned out, my first family.

I felt safe, stable, and welcomed. Being in an environment where I was desired and part of a community of like-minded people felt rejuvenating and it helped me to process the trauma of my past. A lot of staying at the camp felt like a break, a respite that was much needed. It felt healing for both my mental and physical health. I began a sort of deconstruction and decoding of my past life and started to feel connected to nature, people, and the environment around me. The surroundings were very calming for my brain which tends to get overstimulated and for the first time in forever, I didn’t feel constantly stressed.

Áidna at the Hambach camp. The activists called it Hambi.

Running an occupied space, whether it is a building like in Barcelona or an occupied piece of land like Hambach, takes a lot of work and requires skills, organizing and communal decision-making. The Hambach camp has existed since 2012, so it is well established and the needs of running the camp have formed their routines. The daily tasks included dumpster diving for food, keeping the place clean, doing the dishes and naturally, since it is a land camp, emptying the outhouses.

Every Friday we hosted a massive communal meal Küche für alle (Kitchen for all) and a lot of the locals came around to the camp and brought us some delicacies like cake, which we wouldn’t usually have. Having a land camp like this also includes protest actions against the ever-expanding mines and negotiations with the local policymakers. We also hosted events to raise awareness and honestly, just to have fun. The events included things like music, workshops, and art.

After some months I started feeling restless again and just existing there wasn’t enough for me anymore. I had gathered my strength and my time at the camp gave me a stronger sense that I wanted to find more active forms of political action. I felt like I had stopped moving on my path. Perhaps I had rested and healed enough, and it was time to move on. A sense of purpose and intuition drove me to leave the camp, but I am eternally grateful for the connections I made and the family I found.

After a while of staying at Hambach I messaged my birth mother, hoping to reconnect with her. I was so used to being rejected by people of my past who called themselves my family, so I did not expect much else from her either. To my surprise, her attitude towards me was respectful and she perceived my choices as valuable and meaningful. I decided to go back to Finland, even though I had sworn I would never do so again. It was a difficult decision, but I followed my intuition and travelled to Tampere to meet her.

From her and my grandmother, I started learning more about my past. I found out that I was half Sámi from my mother’s side, and it felt like finding a missing piece. I felt that this was the truth the universe was leading me towards all along. I felt an intense connection, a sense of purpose and belonging that kickstarted an unravelling of everything I was told to be true about my past. It was a raw gut feeling that this was what I needed to find about myself. It was not rational; it was as if this was something I was destined to do and the path before me became ever clearer. It led me to begin breaking apart the colonial biases hammered into my subconscious and reclaiming my Sáminess as part of my identity. I found a whole new aspect of spirituality and a connection with nature.

"Nature is not a resource; it is living, breathing and conscious in all its forms."

Sámi culture relates to the land by living with it and being part of it rather than seeing it as something to settle on and as a resource to exploit as most of the colonial and capitalist world sees it. Nature is allowed to be alive and valued in and of itself. One should only ever take what they need and respect everything nature gives them. All of nature has a soul that should be recognised and respected. The process of living with nature should be about harmony and communication with it. Humans tend to think that they are above nature, but they aren’t. Such a belief is extremely normalised and arrogant and the process of unlearning this arrogance is revolutionary in itself.

Nature is not a resource; it is living, breathing and conscious in all its forms.

This is the path the universe is showing me at this very moment, and this is what I must follow. I want to reconnect with my heritage and work towards the liberation of Sápmi. I have hope for the future, but we need to work towards it each and every moment, forever and always; it is a marathon, not a sprint. We must build communities that form alternative spaces together, where all people can comfortably be themselves and be truly free.


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