Zinada Strogalshikova is from the Vepsy indigenous people from Russia and comes from a very humble background. Born in an indigenous setting, as a child she heard the word “education” many times and this made her try her best to go to school. She wanted to be a success and a role model to all other indigenous children in her community. She wanted to make a difference, and most of all make her family proud. She succeeded, and continued to advance her studies to the university level where she studied ethnology in the hope of discovering the indigenous peoples of Russia and helping them.
Zinaida Strogalschikova – Russian Federation / Barents region
She continues her studies and work on the traditional culture of her people, and now works in the scientific center in Carelia, her hometown. Listening to Zinaida, speaking softly but with a lot of power, you see wisdom in her. The Russian indigenous peoples are proud to work closely with her for their advancement in their territories. There are many challenges ahead, especially in that many indigenous peoples do not yet know of the establishment of the Permanent Forum and its objectives. But even the fact of its establishment is very important for indigenous peoples, especially today, when new government policies are being formulated.
map of the Barents region
another Barents region map.
For many years Zinaida has worked on indigenous issues and it is very clear to her that her people want self-determination. She has helped her community in the publication of a newspaper and other publications to create an awareness of their issues. Because of her advocacy work with indigenous peoples for many years, she was nominated by her people to Parliament for two terms for 8 years. She headed a committee working on national systems and indigenous peoples, with a main focus on their legal status in agriculture and community life. She worked to legitimize the self-determination of indigenous peoples and lands. This also includes the right to education, health, culture and development. She was aware of all that she presented in Parliament which made the government approve the access of information for indigenous peoples, the result of a long-time struggle. Her presence in parliament has heightened awareness of indigenous issues in a country that is facing many changes.
“Indigenous peoples of Russia still have a long journey to trek, but our working together has made a difference.” Zinaida believes that networking and communication are key to success. As a woman she has challenges, especially in that she came from a traditional setting. She acknowledges the fact that women play a great role, especially as custodians of indigenous cultural knowledge. Men go away to the cities and women are left behind. Like the other indigenous peoples, they have great resources in their land. They never enjoy or benefit from those resources because the rich have the power to control them. Mining and environmental pollution greatly affect indigenous peoples. The rich own these resources and the indigenous peoples are denied the benefit of them.
“Some laws discriminate against indigenous peoples and this is a very hard issue to tackle. With the help of the Permanent Forum, and being here as one of the experts, I feel privileged and, as usual, I will continue to advocate for the issues of indigenous peoples from Russia and work with other brothers and sisters and experts from all over the world”. (Read on UNPFII).
her article: Kodima on January 2003 about the Barents region;
again about Barents region;
Barents Info, the web portal.