Helsinki medal

City of Helsinki honours deserving citizens on Helsinki Day

As is traditional, the City of Helsinki will present awards to deserving people on Helsinki Day, 12 June. This year, the city once again rewarded accomplished citizens in the fields of science, art, culture and sport, and awarded ten Golden Helsinki Medals.

- Helsinki Day is definitely one of the highlights of the year. This year, the day feels particularly good because, after two years of coronavirus, we can once again celebrate and reward deserving citizens without the special arrangements caused by the pandemic, says Juhana Vartiainen, Mayor of Helsinki.

Mayor Juhana Vartiainen and Deputy Mayors Anni Sinnemäki, Nasima Razmyar and Paavo Arhinmäki presented the awards at a festive ceremony at Helsinki City Hall.

Ten deserving citizens awarded the Golden Helsinki Medal

Golden Helsinki Medals were awarded to ten accomplished citizens. The Golden Helsinki Medal is the highest accolade awarded by the City of Helsinki, a kind of honorary citizenship. The City Board decides on the granting of the Helsinki Medals, and they are awarded on Helsinki Day.

In 2022, the Helsinki Medal was awarded to (in alphabetical order):

  • Writer, poet and film director Hassan Blasim. Blasim’s works are powerful portrayals of the everyday lives of immigrants, racism and social exclusion in Finland. He is not only an artist and civil activist, but also a champion of empathy, freedom of expression and equality.
  • Graphic Designer Eerik Bruun. Bruun’s graphics are familiar to all Finns, and in his prolific career he has designed more than 500 advertising, cultural and nature posters, many of which have become icons of graphic design.
  • President of the Academy of Finland, Paula Eerola. Eerola has served as Vice Rector, Dean and a professor at the University of Helsinki. She is an accomplished scientist in the field of experimental particle physics who has promoted cooperation between the University of Helsinki and the City of Helsinki, as well as the University’s entrepreneurial and innovation activities.
  • Head of refugee coordination at the Ukrainian Association in Finland Elizabeth Harjunpää. Harjunpää has played a key role in the establishment and management of the Ukrainian Aid Centre in Vallila. Its activities are unique at national level and have attracted interest from a wider European audience.
  • DJ, musician and radio journalist Jyrki Jantunen. Jantunen is better known as Dj Njassa. He has been opening up the musical world of Helsinki for over 40 years in various roles. Jantunen brought rock music to the Finnish airwaves through Radio City, founded in 1985.
  • President and CEO of Metropolia University of Applied Sciences Riitta Konkola. Konkola has led Metropolia in major reforms and has been instrumental in promoting the Myllypuro campus, where Metropolia, Stadi Vocational College and Helsinki Upper Secondary School of Languages will be combined to create a campus cluster of up to 10,000 students.
  • Project Manager and Chair of House of Helsinki Artem Kuosti. Through its RefuFin project, House of Helsinki has transported over 2,000 Ukrainian adults and children fleeing the war to safety in Finland, Estonia and Latvia. House of Helsinki volunteers have actively helped more than 4,000 Ukrainians who have arrived in Finland.
  • Growth entrepreneur and CEO Miki Kuusi. Kuusi is among the most prominent figures in the Helsinki start-up community. As the first CEO of the start-up event Slush, he has contributed to the international profile of the city. He has also been actively involved in making the city more business-friendly.
  • Executive director of the Helsinki Montessori Association Virpi Mustila. Mustila has been promoting the well-being of children in Helsinki and Montessori pedagogy since 2003. Montessori Helsinki has expanded from small part-time clubs to seven full-time day-care centres located in different parts of Helsinki.
  • Chief Inspector of the Helsinki Police Department Jari Taponen Under Taponen’s leadership, the Helsinki Police Department’s understanding of inequality and radicalism has broadened significantly. The Helsinki Police Department’s preventive activities work in close cooperation with the city’s youth services and social and health services.

Science awards

City of Helsinki Science Award (€10,000)

The purpose of the Helsinki Science Award is to improve and promote Helsinki as a science city. The award is granted as recognition of the significant scientific work done by a Helsinki resident or work done in Helsinki. The science award is €10,000.

The City of Helsinki Science Award 2022 was granted to Professor of Education at the University of Helsinki Katariina Salmela-Aro,

Salmela-Aro’s extensive research work in the field of education and psychology is considered to be of a very high standard, and the Academy of Finland elected her to the position of Academy Professor for the period 2021–2026. In her research career, Salmela-Aro has published 288 articles, 44 book chapters and 13 books.

In addition to her high-level research, she has been active in bringing scientific research into the public debate. During the coronavirus pandemic, she has been active in researching and highlighting the impact of distance learning on young people and learning. She has also studied student exhaustion and the impact of climate change on young people’s well-being.

Culture and entertainment awards

Helsinki Culture Award (€15,000)

The award is granted to a Helsinki artist as recognition of significant artistic merits or important work for the benefit of Helsinki cultural life.

The Helsinki Culture Award 2022 was awarded to Timo Ruuskanen and Tuukka Vasama. Founded by Vasama and Ruuskanen, the Red Nose Company is a prolific theatre operator that employs actors, musicians and circus people. Vasama and Ruuskanen have become known for their tragicomic interpretations of classics that open up new perspectives. The Red Nose Company’s performances are a unique combination of interactive professional theatre, surprising music and topical themes.

Artist of the Year awards (€5,000 each)

The Helsinki Artist of the Year awards are given to Helsinki-based artists from different artistic fields. In 2022, the prize was awarded to Matti Salo, Katja Lundén and Leena Harjunpää.

Musician, poet, rapper Matti Salo, aka Asa, is a powerful voice of the suburbs and a versatile musician, music writer, band leader, record company owner and a very important figure in the development of rap culture. Salo has released music under the stage names Avain and Asa. In 2010, Asa was elected Roihuvuori Resident of the Year and the Helsinki Neighbourhoods Association HELKA awarded him a merit badge for his work for the Roihuvuori district.

Choreographer and dancer Katja Lundén is a boundary-breaking flamenco dancer and choreographer who combines Finnish icons such as the sauna with fiery flamenco. She is the artistic director of her own Katja Lundén Company and produces new works every year, both in Helsinki and on tour. Her multi-art works combine flamenco, contemporary dance and a new kind of musical theatre. Lundén’s works have also toured international theatre- and dance festivals.

Leena Harjunpää is a choreographer, dancer and artistic director of the Leena Harjunpää Company. Harjunpää has worked extensively as a choreographer and performer. The trademark of her works is a combination of movement with visual, theatrical and sometimes even comic elements, and a focus on the core of humanity and social structures. Harjunpää is a prolific and inventive dance artist who effortlessly combines other art forms with contemporary dance.

Sports awards

The City of Helsinki annually honours the Helsinki Athlete or Team of the Year, the Helsinki Sports Club of the Year, the Young Helsinki Athlete of the Year and the Helsinki Coach of the Year on the basis of sporting achievements. In addition to the recognition, the winners also receive financial scholarships.

Helsinki Athlete or Team of the Year 2022 (€10,000)

Gymnast Emil Soravuo won bronze in the Floor Final of the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Japan at the end of 2021. Finland’s previous Artistic Gymnastics World Championships medal was won in 1997 and Soravuo’s medal is Finland’s first-ever World Championships medal on the floor.

Young Helsinki Athlete of the Year 2022 (€2,500)

Sailors Ronja Grönblom and Veera Hokka made a breakthrough to the top of their sport by finishing fourth in the Youth Sailing World Championships in Oman at the end of 2021. Grönblom and Hokka sail in the Olympic class 49er FX and were previously only narrowly eliminated from the Tokyo Olympics.

Helsinki Sports Club of the Year 2022 (€5,000)

Pallo-Pojat Juniorit ry has not only grown, but has also developed its training facilities, for example at Jätkäsaari airdome. The club has gone digital and developed remote communication with parents, and has organised coaching and other training sessions remotely. The club also challenges other top clubs in Helsinki up to B-junior level.

Helsinki Sports Coach of the Year 2022 (€2,500)

Juha Lappalainen is the Olympic coach of the national wrestling team and is responsible for the high-quality coaching of top Greco-Roman wrestlers, both in home training and at camps. Lappalainen is currently coaching some of Finland’s best and internationally successful wrestlers, such as Elias Kuosmasen and Arvi Savolainen.

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Helsinki Day programme

Helsinki Event Foundation not only organises Helsinki Day on Helsinki’s birthday, 12 June, but also other significant public events for the City of Helsinki, such as Helsinki Festival, Lux Helsinki, Helsinki’s New Year’s Eve celebrations, Baltic Herring Market and Helsinki Christmas Market.