Denmark to pay compensation to Greenland’s ‘experiment children’

Six people from Greenland who were forced to take part in a Danish social experiment as children in the 1950s are to be paid thousands of kroner in compensation by the Danish state.

the greenland flag
A file photo showing the flag of Greenland. Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

The six people are the surviving members of a group of 22 children who were moved to Denmark and cut off from their families in the 1950s in an attempt to bridge the cultural gap between the Scandinavian country and its then-colony.

In Denmark, the children were deprived of contact with relatives and once they returned to Greenland they were not reunited with their parents but instead put in an orphanage. Many of them would never see their families again.

Denmark officially apologised to all 22 in 2020 and the six surviving members will now be paid 250,000 kroner each by the Danish state after a settlement was reached.

The settlement was confirmed in a statement by Denmark’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Senior Citizens on Friday and has since been reported by media in Greenland.

The official intention of the 1950s experiment was to give the children a Danish upbringing and language so that they could later become part of a “Danish speaking elite” in Greenland.

In the statement, social and elderly issues minister Astrid Kragh said she was “pleased the six people will now be given compensation by the state”.

“The relocation of the children is a dark chapter in the history of Greenland and Denmark, and we must not close our eyes to it,” she said.

“What happened had large negative consequences for the children, who lost their language, their cultural identity and their connection to their families,” she added.

The six people who will receive compensation are now aged around 80.

READ ALSO: Denmark apologises to children taken from Greenland in 1950s

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Why Denmark and Canada are about to share a border

A half-century-long peaceful dispute over an uninhabited island has ended after an agreement was reached between Denmark, Greenland and Canada.

Why Denmark and Canada are about to share a border

The 50-year spat over Hans Island has been resolved after the countries agreed to a partition of the island and the Labrador Sea, which separates Greenland and Canada.

The deal means that the Danish kingdom – of which Greenland is an autonomous territory – will be extended by an area the size of Jutland, Funen and Zealand combined.

Hans Island is a barren island around 1.3 square kilometres in size. Located between Greenland and Canada, it is symbolically significant for both countries.

Talks have been ongoing since a special focus group was appointed in 2018 in an effort to find a solution to the longstanding territorial dispute.

The agreement means a border will run from the north to the south of the island along a ridge, with one half being part of the Danish kingdom and the other Canadian territory.

Should Greenland ever become fully independent from Denmark, the Hans Island area would become part of Greenland, which is itself the world’s largest island.

In addition to partitioning Hans Island, the agreement also fixes a maritime border stretching a distance of 3,882 kilometres from the Lincoln Sea to the Labrador Sea. This border will be the world’s longest sea border and the most northerly part of the Schengen area.

One half of the area separated by the new sea border will also become part of Denmark’s territory.

The agreement was scheduled to be signed by the three countries at a ceremony on Tuesday. It must also be approved by the Danish parliament. This is expected to be a formality.

The dispute over the island has been ongoing since the 1970s but has always been peaceful.

In the 2000s, Denmark asserted its claims to the island on several occasions by raising the Danish flag and leaving a bottle of schnapps. Canada responded by leaving its own flag and a bottle of whisky.

The dispute has not affected the Inuit population of the area, who use the island for navigation purposes. It is known by the Thule people as Tartapaluk, meaning “kidney shaped”, while the name Hans comes from a Greenlandic hunter and expedition leader.