Public event: Truth, Injustice and Reconciliation in Comparative Perspective: Finland, Canada, United States

May 25 at 5:00 pm (EET) on Zoom

In anticipation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Concerning the Sámi People that the Government of Finland will appoint in 2021, this event brings together political scientist Rauna Kuokkanen (University of Lapland) with legal scholar Mayo Moran (University of Toronto) and historian David Collins (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies) to discuss historical injustice and reconciliation in comparative perspective.

All three speakers have played leadership roles in reconciliation processes at the national, regional or institutional level and will bring those perspectives to bear, as well as those of their different scholarly disciplines. The discussion will be moderated by international lawyer Karen Knop and international relations expert Tuomas Forsberg (both Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies), whose research on these issues offers international and transnational perspectives.

Professor Kuokkanen will speak about the prospects for a truth and reconciliation process in Finland.  In this light, Professor Moran will consider what might be learned from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, the best-known truth and reconciliation commission (TRC) that directly concerns Indigenous peoples and led the Sámi people to consider the need for a similar process in Finland, Norway and Sweden.   The Canadian TRC’s national calls to action extend to goals for institutions such as universities.  Professor Collins will approach the topic from this angle, based on his experience as chair of Georgetown University’s Working Group on Slavery, Memory and Reconciliation, which was established to address the history that in 1838 the University’s Jesuit leadership sold 272 slaves to save Georgetown from financial distress.  A number of universities in the United States and elsewhere are undertaking similar efforts regarding the legacy of slavery for their institutions, and a recent outgrowth of the Georgetown initiative has been the pledge of the Jesuit conference of Catholic priests to raise $100 million (US) to benefit the descendants of the enslaved people once owned by the Jesuit order and to promote racial reconciliation initiatives.

When and where: 


Professor Rauna Kuokkanen (University of Lapland)

Professor and Provost Mayo Moran (University of Toronto)

Professor David Collins (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies)


Professor Karen Knop (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies)

Director Tuomas Forsberg (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies)

The event is organized by the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies. The audience members may send questions and comments via Zoom's chat function.

Speaker and moderator bios:

Rauna Kuokkanen is Research Professor of Arctic Indigenous Studies at the University of Lapland, Adjunct Professor of Indigenous Studies and Political Science at the University of Toronto and a 2021-2022 Fulbright Arctic Initiative Fellow.  Her most recent book is the triple prize-winning Restructuring Relations: Indigenous Self-Determination, Governance and Gender (Oxford UP, 2019).  She is also the author of Boaris dego eana: Eamiálbmogiid diehtu, filosofiijat ja dutkan (in Sámi) (As Old as the Earth. Indigenous Knowledge, Philosophies and Research, 2009). Her book Reshaping the University: Responsibility, Indigenous Epistemes and the Logic of the Gift develops an Indigenous postcolonial critique of the modern university.  Professor Kuokkanen has recently published on the potential of a truth and reconciliation process in Finland.  She is from Ohcejohka/Utsjoki, Sápmi but previously lived in Canada for nearly 20 years until 2017.

Mayo Moran is Provost and Vice-Chancellor of Trinity College at the University of Toronto, where she is also Professor of Law and a former Dean of the Faculty of Law.  Her book Rethinking the Reasonable Person (Oxford UP) examines how judicial ideas of “normal” behaviour may discriminate against women and girls.   She is currently working on a book that builds on her recent article “The Problems of the Past: How Historic Wrongs Became Legal Problems.”  Since 2007, Professor Moran has chaired the Government of Canada’s Independent Assessment Process Oversight Committee that assists in the implementation of the Indian Residential Schools Agreement, the agreement that led to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.  She has co-edited a special issue of the University of Toronto Law Journal on the Residential Schools litigation and settlement.   Professor Moran also co-chairs the Faculty of Law’s Response to the TRC Committee at the University of Toronto. 

David Collins is a 2020-2021 Core Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies and Associate Professor of History at Georgetown University (Washington, DC).  He holds higher degrees in history, philosophy and theology from universities in the United States and Germany.  A scholar of medieval intellectual and cultural history, he has published extensively on Renaissance humanism and the cult of the saints, especially in Germany, as well as on medieval magic, religion and science.  His most recent book is the edited collection The Sacred and the Sinister: Studies in Medieval Magic and Religion (Penn State UP, 2019). 

Karen Knop is the 2020-2021 Jane and Aatos Erkko Visiting Professor in Studies on Contemporary Society at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies and a Professor of Law at the University of Toronto.  Her scholarship on self-determination includes the award-winning Diversity and Self-Determination in International Law (Cambridge UP).  She has written on historical injustice from a transnational perspective in the context of the “Comfort Women” issue together with legal anthropologist Annelise Riles.

Tuomas Forsberg is Director of the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies on leave from the University of Tampere where he is Professor of International Relations.  He currently runs an Academy of Finland-funded research project on Cultural Statecraft in International Relations: The Case of Russia.  His research interests include peace and conflict studies with an emphasis on transitional justice, and he is the author of the report Past Injustice in World Politics: Prospects of Truth-Commission-Like Global Institutions (with Teivo Teivanen and foreword by Desmond Tutu). 

Event image by artist Outi PieskiBeavvit - Rising Together, 2021, installation. 

Contact information:

Research Coordinator Kaisa Kaakinen, +358 2 94122493,