Espoo’s new Finnish citizens celebrated again

29.8.2022 13.19
The mayor of the city of Espoo spoke at the citizenship celebration.
Photo: Kerttu Penttilä

For the third time, the City of Espoo hosted a citizenship celebration for adult residents of Espoo who have acquired Finnish citizenship in recent years. The event was held on 28 August 2022 at Dipoli, where 450 guests celebrated in a joyful atmosphere.

“I am proud of the fact that Espoo is a safe city close to nature. I am also proud of the fact that Espoo has become an internationally competitive university city. It is important that residents with different backgrounds are able to feel at home in the city and welcome to participate in building the future of Espoo,” Mayor Jukka Mäkelä said in his speech.

The guests said that they appreciated the invitation and praised Espoo. “We were touched by the speeches at the citizenship celebration and we are truly grateful that the City of Espoo cares so much about all of its residents, regardless of where they were born,” says Anastasia McAvennie.

The McAvennie family moved to Finland thirteen years ago and have lived in Espoo for just over three years. “Espoo keeps surprising us with its hospitality, despite the fact that the city is already quite popular as a place to move to because of its diverse nature and leisure and work opportunities. When we moved to Espoo, we received a lovely greeting card from the City and took part in a fun and informative Hello Espoo networking event for new Espoo residents who had moved from abroad. We have never experienced such a welcoming atmosphere in a big city, and hopefully Espoo will be our ‘forever home,’” McAvennie says.

The citizenship celebration was part of Espoo Day, a joint celebration for residents and the largest annual city event. The long coronavirus period prevented such gatherings, but now all adult residents of Espoo who became Finnish citizens in 2019, 2020 and 2021 were invited to attend.

In the last three years, 3,674 residents of Espoo were granted Finnish citizenship. Of these people, 2,011 were adults and 1,663 were under the age of 18.

Espoo ♥ Citizen programme renewed and relaunched in August

The City offers free cultural and sports benefits, such as concert, museum and swimming pool tickets, as a gift to Espoo residents who have been granted Finnish citizenship. The benefit is granted to Espoo residents who acquired Finnish citizenship between 2020 and 2021.

The programme was launched in 2017 to celebrate the Finland 100 centenary and has been further developed together with new citizens.

One in five people in Espoo are foreign-language speakers

The City’s international activities have increased significantly in recent decades.

At the beginning of 2022, there were around 60,000 foreign-language speakers living in Espoo. During the council term that ended in 2021, the number of foreign-language speakers in Espoo increased by an average of more than 3,600 people per year.

The City Council has highlighted the principle of “Every Espoo resident has the right to feel at home in Espoo” in the Espoo Story, which is the City’s strategy. One of the goals for this council term is to be “Finland’s best city for integration.”

“As the population with a Finnish background continues to age, it is essential that we do a better job of ensuring that people who have come to Finland and Espoo from other parts of the world can genuinely participate in our society, access our educational institutions and universities, and become employees and entrepreneurs. For many, gaining citizenship is a milestone worth celebrating on this journey,” says Teemu Haapalehto, Manager of Immigration Affairs.

The integration programme approved in June by the City Council highlights key development trends related to integration and outlines how the Council’s integration policy will be put into practice.

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