“Finding Edge Road” shows how immigration is changing and challenging a small city in Finland. It explores how the city of Lieksa in Eastern Finland near the Russian border is dealing with a recent influx of new asylum seekers from Somalia and Iraq. The newcomers have moved to vacant council flats on a street called “Edge Road.”

detailed overview

Finding Edge Road is a documentary about asylum seekers in eastern Finland.

This film explores how the small city of Lieksa in Eastern Finland is dealing with a recent influx of new immigrants from Somalia and Iraq. The newcomers have moved to vacant council apartments on a street called “Edge Road.”

Lieksa’s population is aging and with its high unemployment rate of twenty percent. many locals are concerned that immigrants will take their jobs or live off government benefits. Residents are also concerned about newcomers not integrating into Finnish society and learning the language, a prerequisite for getting a job in Finland.

This change in demographics has caused tensions in the community and led to an increase in racist attacks.

The film explores both points of view showing those who see immigration as a positive force and those who are threatened by it.
Finding Edge Road was shot over three years by Canadian filmmaker Brandy Yanchyk.


“What is more valuable than gold? The sweat of a Somali worker. I have never seen them working in Lieksa.”

— Aki Miettinen

Aki Miettinen — Lieksa resident

Aki grew up in Lieksa and is the founder of a Facebook site that gained notoriety due to its racist material.
Aki is concerned about the Somali immigrants who have moved to his city and has in the past been connected with violent attacks.

“This is place is open for everyone. I am working with Somalian people, Iraq people. I think there is one Afghanistan.”

— Pirkko Leinonen

Pirkko Leinonen — Virikesoppi

Pirkko runs a drop-in centre called Virikesoppi which means refreshing corner in English. It is a small apartment on Edge Road where the new immigrants have moved. Inside the apartment Pirkko helps the newcomers with their Finnish homework and teaches the women how to sew. Virikesoppi was set up by the city of Lieksa.

“When the unemployment percentage is high here, nearly twenty percent, the local people partly thinks ‘Why are you dipping into our cup?’”

— Esko Lehto

Esko Lehto — Mayor of Lieksa

Esko Lehto is the Mayor of Lieksa. During his time in office he has seen an influx of new immigrants move into his city to live in vacant council flats.

“The racist acts have risen very much in the past years. In the past we didn’t have them at all and now there are dozens of them a year.”

— Mauno Thuohiniemi


Senior Constable Mauno Thuohiniemi has seen the racist acts in Lieksa rise in recent years as more immigrants move to the city.

“Many of us were not willing to come to this small place like Lieksa. Even me I was trying to move to Helsinki but it was difficult to get a house there. So here it was easy to get a house.”

— Muqtar Moalin Nuur

Muqtar Moalin Nuur — Imam

Muqtar lives in Lieksa and is an Imam at the local mosque. The city council says about three hundred Muslims are now living in the city. Muqtar says there has never a problem being a Muslim or practicing his religion in Finland.

“I want to help them to integrate to our Finnish society. I want it that they can be part of our society as soon as possible.”

— Anne Smura


Anne is the Sales Manager of an electronics store in Lieksa. She has been helping new immigrants to do their school work placements at her company so they can practice their Finnish and gain experience so they can get a job.


— Hamdi Hassan Ibrahim

Hamdi Hassan Ibrahim — Somali Immigrant

Hamdi has four daughters and is a single mother living in Lieksa.
She is a refugee from Somalia and left because of the war in
Mogadishu. Hamdi is Muslim and still practices her religion in
Finland. She says she has not felt any racism against her while she
has been living in Finland.

“I see that local people are very critical when it comes to immigrants because the city can’t handle all these immigrants financially, not to sound racist.”

— Veijo Ikonen

Veijo Ikonen — Lieksa City Councillor

Veijo is on the Lieksa city council in his third term. He is concerned that the city will waste its money educating the new immigrants because they will just leave the city to go work in larger centres like Helsinki or not work at all. Veijo also is worried that the newcomers will not learn to speak Finnish in three years.

“We have the shop here because there’s a lot of Somali and other immigrants and we feel that there is something which they can not get anywhere else in Lieksa.”

— Arab Abdillahi

Arab Abdillahi — Somali Store Owner

Arab owns his own store in Lieksa which sells Halal meat and other Muslim products to the new immigrants that have moved to the city.


— Abeer Al-Adeli

Abeer Al-Adeli — Iraqi Immigrant

Abeer moved from Iraq to Lieksa three years ago. She moved her
because of problems she faced in Baghdad. Abeer also needed
to have a leg operation and was given the opportunity to have
this operation in Finland. She recently married Omar, another new
immigrant from Baghdad.

“Immigration is not easy, especially if you are far away from your family. I am in Baghdad in my dream, near of my mother, my brother, my friend. When I wake up I find myself in Finland.”

— Omar Mahmood

Omar Mahmood — Iraqi Immigrant

Omar is a refugee from Iraq. He recently moved to Lieksa to be with
his new wife, Abeer, who is also from Baghdad. Omar is starting a
new life in Finland after fleeing Baghdad in 2006.

“It was a shock when I moved to Finland because I couldn’t speak Finnish or English. But when I learned how to speak Finnish it wasn’t as hard as I thought.”

— Sarchal Abdullah

Sarchal Abdullah — Iraqi Immigrant

Sarchal is a new immigrant from Iraqi Kurdistan. Sarchal has integrated really well into the Finnish society and has learned to speak the language. He has also found a few jobs in he city.

“The Finnish population is getting quite old so they need more and more persons for this job. I want to live here. I am like half Lieksalien.”

— Hasan Fehmi Cankaya

Hasan Fehmi Cankaya — Turkish Immigrant

Hasan recently moved to Finland. He is originally from Turkey and has a Finnish wife who is from Lieksa. Hasan returned to school in Lieksa to study to be a caregiver for seniors.

crew bios


Brandy Yanchyk is an award winning independent documentary filmmaker based in Edmonton, Alberta. Her productions cover a wide range of social and factual genres and they have aired on channels including BBC World TV, CBC, CBC’s Documentary Channel, Rogers/OMNI TV, PBS and film festivals around the world.
Ms. Yanchyk is also a regular reporter/producer for BBC World’s The Travel Show and has covered stories worldwide including Canada, Finland, Australia and New Zealand for a global audience of 76 million viewers since 2009.
She has also worked as a news reporter for CBC for over a decade and as a broadcast journalist at BBC World TV and the BBC World Service in London.
Brandy Yanchyk’s documentaries include Becoming Albertan (2015) (Rogers/OMNI TV), Employment Matters (CBC and CBC’s Documentary Channel) (2015), Employment Matters Too (2015) (CBC and CBC’s Documentary Channel), The Working Originals (2015) (TELUS Optik Local), Finding Edge Road (2015) (CBC’s Documentary Channel), Grey Glory (2014) (CBC’s Documentary Channel, Rogers/OMNI TV), Grey Ambition (2014) (CBC’s Documentary Channel, Rogers/OMNI TV), Oil Calling (2013) (CBC’s Documentary Channel), Nature’s Invitation (2012) (CBC’s Documentary Channel, Rogers/OMNI TV), Brooks – The City of 100 Hellos (2011) (CBC’s Documentary Channel, Rogers/OMNI TV) and Desert to Ice (2009) (BBC World TV).

Sarah Taylor — Editor

Sarah Taylor is an award winning Editor who has a wealth of broadcast and non-broadcast experience that includes network television series, magazine shows, and countless corporate and government video productions. She was the Editor of Grey Ambition, Grey Glory, Oil Calling, Brooks – The City of 100 Hellos and Nature’s Invitation for Brandy Y Productions Inc. Ms. Taylor was also the lead Editor of the sketch comedy series Caution: May Contain Nuts airing on APTN. She has also edited the series E-Town and Truckstop Bloodsuckers airing on Bite TV and Tiny Plastic Men airing on Super Channel. She edited the short film Maud Mary and the Titanic which was shown at the Tribeca film festival in 2012. In 2012 Sarah Taylor won ‘Best Editor for Drama under 30 Minutes’ at the Alberta Film & Television Awards.

OLLI AROMAA — sound mixer

Olli Aromaa is an enthusiastic Audio Engineer who has wide experience in the field of television broadcast, music recording, documentary and movie projects. He’s an expert in signal route planning and audio engineering of audio feeds and intercom systems. In Finland’s entertainment field he has worked on broadcasts such as David Hasselhoff Show, Dancing With the Stars, Big Brother, Paradise Hotel and many others. In sports broadcasts he has worked in internationally for World Rally Championship, variety of Red Bull broadcasts, horseraces and Champions Hockey league, amongst others.

Perttu Mutka — Second Camera

Perttu Mutka has worked both behind and in front of the camera and has been honored to be part of many great productions, locally in his native Finland and internationally with Canadian director Brandy Yanchyk. Perttu also an experienced sound designer and live mixing engineer.

Piia Mutka — Production Assistant

Piia Mutka has worked as a film crew assistant for Brandy Y Production’s Finding Edge Road and Brandy Yanchyk’s travel feature “Hug a Tree to be Happy” for BBC World TV’s travel show Fast:Track. She also provided translations for the documentary Finding Edge Road.