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Last month, on November 18, 2019, I joined a Finnish company called Wirepas, as the Director of Business Development. Wirepas is a software company focused on the Internet of Thing (IoT) technology used in so many industries, but most interestingly in logistics and lighting. []

Today is the Independence Day in Finland. So, I wish my Finnish colleagues best wishes on this important day.

After Russia was taken over by the Bolsheviks in November 1917 Parliament issued a declaration of independence for Finland on December 6, 1917, which was recognized by Lenin and his government on the last day of the year.

Finns celebrate their freedom on this date. This is one of Finland’s most inspiring celebrations – Independence Day.

On Independence Day in the evening, neighbourhoods all over Finland are adorned with the twinkling lights of blue and white candles on windowsills.

As a Canadian, we have a great deal in common with our Finnish friends. We both live in northern climates and enjoy the winter months as a part of our year. We do not hide away from winter, we embrace it. We get outdoors in the winter and have fun, even on colder days. We both play hockey to the highest levels. Many Canadian NHL teams have Finns on them. Seven players from Finland, a country of 5.5 million, have been top 10 draft picks since 2013, and nearly all of them are playing significant roles on their NHL teams.

This list of Finnish NHL players includes some of the greatest NHL players ever. Finnish hockey players like Teemu Selanne, Jari Kurri, Saku Koivu, Tomas Sandstrom, and Teppo Numminen are just some of the great hockey players from Finland who have left their mark in the NHL. This list of top Finnish NHL players also includes current and rising stars like Mikko Koivu, Niklas Backstrom, Antti Niemi, Kimmo Timonen, Ollie Jokinen, and Tuomo Ruutu.

Selanne leads Finnish NHL players with 684 goals and 1,457 points while Kurri is tops in assists with 797 (playing with Wayne Gretzky helps) and Miikka Kiprusoff has the most wins by a Finnish NHL goalie with 319 although Kari Lehtonen is closing in on him.

We both claim to own Christmas, although Canada has the North Pole inside its borders, so perhaps we have the stronger argument for leading this world celebration. But, Finland’s Father Christmas is just as cool as our Santa Claus.

Finnish people believe that Father Christmas lives in the north part of Finland called Korvatunturi (or Lapland), north of the Arctic Circle. People from all over the world send letters to Father Christmas in Finland. There is a big tourist theme park called ‘Christmas Land’ in the north of Finland, near to where they say that Father Christmas lives.

He’s beloved by children from around the world. Each year on Christmas Eve, Santa Claus – or Saint Nicolas, if you prefer – loads his sleigh, harnesses the reindeer and begins his around-the-world tour, delivering gifts and spreading joy to millions.

But exactly where Santa begins this journey – and what passport he, Mrs. Claus, and all the elves carry with them – is the subject of heated debate, the outcome of which could have wide-ranging implications on who controls the North Pole and all its resources.

At a time of year when politicians and Christmas enthusiasts from across the globe are clamouring to lay claim to Saint Nick, including the Finns, but here in Canada it is a moot point. Santa Claus lives at the North Pole, which is in Canada. So, his credentials are obviously Canadian. lol

Both countries are sparsely populated with citizens living in some very remote locations that others might think are extreme. But, for us, it is a part of life. It is in our DNA to live in the Great White North.

While both countries were mostly agrarian countries – cultivating plants and livestock – living off of the land, since the end of WWII, we have both embraced technology and have grown in importance on the world stage as smart, capable, science and software producers. We are both enjoying widespread prosperity and a high per capita income compared to other countries. Most notably, both countries are amazing places to live, with peace, calm, and civility in our lives. The quality of life in both countries is some of the highest in the world.

Like Canada, Finland has a parliamentary system of government led by a Prime Minister. While Finland has its own President, we have the Queen of England as our figure head. In Canada, the Queen is represented by the Governor-General, while Finland’s President lives in their country.

In 2008, Finland’s President, Martti Ahtisaan was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. During the Suez Crisis of 1956, future Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson eased tensions by proposing the inception of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force, for which he was awarded the 1957 Nobel Peace Prize.

The 2016 Canadian Census enumerated a total population of 35,151,728, an increase of around 5.0 percent over the 2011 figure. Between 2011 and May 2016, Canada’s population grew by 1.7 million people, with immigrants accounting for two-thirds of the increase. Between 1990 and 2008, the population increased by 5.6 million, equivalent to 20.4 percent overall growth. The main drivers of population growth are immigration and, to a lesser extent, natural growth. So, Canada’s people are from every walk of life and it is this diversity that contributes to its greatness. As a result, we have fantastic diversity in restaurants, you can find every kind of food imaginable in Canada.

The population of Finland is currently about 5.5 million inhabitants and is aging with the birth rate at 10.42 births per 1,000 population per year, or a fertility rate of 1.49 children born per woman, one of the lowest in the world, below the replacement rate of 2.1, it remains considerably below the high of 5.17 children born per woman in 1887. Finland subsequently has one of the oldest populations in the world, with the average age of 42.6 years.

Finnish Canadians are Canadian Citizens of Finnish ancestry or Finns who emigrated to and reside in Canada. According to the 2001 census number over 131,040 Canadians claim Finnish ancestry. Finns started coming to Canada in the early 1880s, and in much larger numbers in the early 20th century and well into the mid-20th century. Finnish immigration to Canada was often a direct result of economic depressions and wars, or in the aftermath of major conflicts like the Finnish Civil War. Canada was often chosen as a final destination because of the similarity in climate and natural conditions, while employment in logging or homesteading attracted landless farmers in the early 20th century. Migratory movements of Finns between Canada and the United States was very common as well.

In the early 20th century, newly arrived Finnish immigrants to Canada quickly became involved in political organizations, churches, athletic clubs and other forms of associational life. Halls and co-operatives were often erected in communities with sizable Finnish populations. “Finnish Canadians” pioneered efforts to establish co-operatives in several Canadian cities. Canada’s largest co-operative, the Consumers’ Co-operative Society, was started by Finns.

The 2011 Census recorded 136,215 Canadians who claimed Finnish ancestry, an increase compared to the 2001 Census.

So, Finland and Canada are a lot alike and share many attributes, traits, and values. It is this commonality that makes the two countries close friends. I am proud to be a part of Wirepas and to be making my first visit to Finland tomorrow. I am sure that it will be a fun, educational, and rewarding visit.

————————–MJM ————————–

About the Author:

Michael Martin has more than 35 years of experience in systems design for broadband networks, optical fibre, wireless, and digital communications technologies.

He is a business and technology consultant. He is employed by Wirepas Oy from Tampere, Finland as the Director of Business Development. Over the past 15 years with IBM, he has worked in the GBS Global Center of Competency for Energy and Utilities and the GTS Global Center of Excellence for Energy and Utilities. He is a founding partner and President of MICAN Communications and before that was President of Comlink Systems Limited and Ensat Broadcast Services, Inc., both divisions of Cygnal Technologies Corporation (CYN: TSX).

Martin currently serves on the Board of Directors for TeraGo Inc (TGO: TSX) and previously served on the Board of Directors for Avante Logixx Inc. (XX: TSX.V). 

He has served as a Member, SCC ISO-IEC JTC 1/SC-41 – Internet of Things and related technologies, ISO – International Organization for Standardization, and as a member of the NIST SP 500-325 Fog Computing Conceptual Model, National Institute of Standards and Technology.

He served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) [now OntarioTech University] and on the Board of Advisers of five different Colleges in Ontario.  For 16 years he served on the Board of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Toronto Section. 

He holds three master’s degrees, in business (MBA), communication (MA), and education (MEd). As well, he has three undergraduate diplomas and five certifications in business, computer programming, internetworking, project management, media, photography, and communication technology. He has earned 15 badges in next generation MOOC continuous education in IoT, Cloud, AI and Cognitive systems, Blockchain, Agile, Big Data, Design Thinking, Security, and more.