Introducing Heikki Sairanen, Honorary Consul of Finland in Winnipeg
Second one in our article series introducing the Honorary Consuls of Finland in Canada is Heikki Sairanen. Mr. Sairanen was appointed as the Honorary Consul of Finland for Winnipeg in 1997. From his location in Winnipeg, he has helped Finnish companies establish businesses in Manitoba for decades.
Heikki Sairanen is the President of Heikki Sairanen Int’l Inc, a green solutions company. His expertise in the field is often used in public projects regarding ecological matters. Heikki has been involved with the development of the following organizations: the Scandinavian Cultural Center, Manitoba Hydro Advisory Group, Sister City Committee of Winnipeg, Finnish Canadian Club in Winnipeg. In 2011 Sairanen received the decoration of Knight First Class of the Order of the Lion of Finland.
In addition, Heikki enjoys the outdoors and is seen most days with his Nordic walking poles getting his ten thousand steps. Sauna evenings are organized a few times a month with his grand-son who discovered the magic of sauna while fulfilling his Finnish military service.
1. How did you end up as an Honorary Consul for Finland?
I often helped Mr. Purves, my predecessor with Finnish language issues as he was a non-Finnish speaker. As a result, when Mr. Purves decided to retire for health reasons, he asked me if I was interested in becoming the Finnish Honorary Consul. I was honoured to have been asked and I have proudly served since then.
2. What do you enjoy most in your role as an Honorary Consul?
I enjoy promoting Finland and its contributions to the well being of both Finnish and Canadian people. In addition, it is rewarding to be able to assist Finns in their own language.
3. What is Finland known for in your area?
In Manitoba, Finland is known for hockey and its hockey players. In the past, it was the Nokia phones.
4. What do you wish people in your area knew more about Finland?
I wish people knew more about Finland’s eco-friendly culture and green lifestyle.
5. What does your area have to offer for Finns or Finnish companies?
Manitoba is centrally located with excellent air, rail and roads – it is a gateway to the rest of Canada and North America. Manitoba’s economy has a great reputation for innovation, quality, reliability, and sustainability in the national market. Manitobans enjoy a high standard of living, steady economic growth, diversified industry, and high employment.
6. What is your favourite Finnish word or expression? Why?
SISU is my favourite Finnish word – it is uniquely Finnish and shows our character. We can overcome many challenges.
Finland has about 400 honorary consulates around the world of which 14 in Canada. Within the scope of their specific geographical area, Finland's Honorary Consuls in Canada monitor the rights of Finns and foreigners permanently residing in Finland. Together with diplomatic missions, an honorary consul promotes economic and cultural relations between Finland and Canada, and takes part in strengthening Finland’s image abroad. An honorary consul can advise Finnish companies, for instance, in obtaining information about local business culture and in finding contacts.
Certain types of notarized certificates can be acquired through an honorary consul. Honorary consuls do not accept passport applications nor do they handle matters pertaining to visas or residence permits. Honorary consuls cannot serve as attorneys in judicial proceedings or as legal advisers.
Honorary consuls are private individuals who take care of their tasks on a part-time basis without remuneration.