New society forming in southern Sweden

Enough Latvians live in southern Sweden that the time has come to get organized, so on March 7 a group is meeting in Malmö to establish the latest diaspora society.

About 65 Latvians received e-mail recently from Mārtiņš Kālis, a doctoral student at Lund University, inviting them to a meeting at 17:00 hours in S:t Mikaels kyrka in Malmö. During the meeting, he said via e-mail, he expects the society’s board of directors will be elected and members will discuss the society’s focus.

“From my view the society must be a center or catalyst that promotes the realization of ideas, brings Latvians together, advances contacts among Latvians, and creates interest in joining and recognizing yourself as a representative of the local Latvian community,” Kālis said.

One of the main activities of the society could be a Latvian school, he said. Children have to get accustomed to the idea that they can communicate in the Latvian language with other children, and that many adults communicate in Latvian, too.

“Otherwise we will arrive at the same situation as many exile Latvian familes, whose children have never had an interest in speaking the Latvian language,” Kālis said.

The new society will not be the first Latvian organization in southern Sweden. A Latvian Lutheran Church operates in Lund and Kālis is a member of the Sweden-Denmark Latvian Choir.

The proximity to Denmark—just 35 minutes by train from Malmö to Copenhagen—has resulted in special ties.

“The Latvians here regard the Copenhagen embassy, not the embassy in Stockholm, as theirs, because it is incomparably closer,” Kālis said.

Tracking down contact details for Latvians in southern Sweden was not easy. Kālis concentrated just on Skåne county, searching the social networking portal for Latvians in southern Sweden. He also got some contact information from the church in Lund. Many of the names he found were for Latvians who have moved to Sweden since the 1990s.

More than 3,300 persons born in Latvia were residents of Sweden as of 2008, according to Statistics Sweden. The Latvian community has been centered around Stockholm, which among other organizations has a school, a choir and a church, plus is home for the Latvian National Foundation and the Latvian Central Council of Sweden.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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