LANSING — State Rep. Scott Dianda’s (D-Calumet) resolution, House Resolution 7, declaring January 2017 as Finnish-American Heritage Month won approval in the House of Representatives on Thursday, Jan. 12. Michigan is home to the highest density of Finnish-Americans, and more than 30 percent of the Upper Peninsula’s Copper Country residents can claim Finnish ancestry.
“Finnish ‘sisu’ —grit and determination — helped build Copper Country,” said Dianda. “Finnish immigrants went to work in U.P. mines and helped make Michigan the world’s largest provider of copper for decades. Their work ethic, their strong cultural heritage and their belief in the value of a good education have created strong communities throughout District 110, and I’m pleased that my House colleagues have recognized these contributions by approving my resolution.”
Dianda will present the resolution to community leaders later in January at Hancock’s Heikinpaiva, the annual mid-winter celebration of Finnish ethnic identity and culture that marks the midpoint of the winter season. Hancock is also the home of the only institution of higher education founded by Finns in the United States, Finlandia University.
“It’s not at all surprising that Finnish immigrants founded Finlandia University, as Finland is known for its excellent system of education that follows children from their first days in school, and prepares them for either the university or training for a good-paying skilled trade job,” said Dianda. “We would do well to study their system and adapt their ideas to improve our public education system so we do a better job of preparing our students for college or meaningful careers in the trades.
“I look forward to joining my friends and neighbors at Heikinpaiva later this month,” said Dianda. “I invite my downstate friends to join us up in Copper Country for an important and fun celebration.”