Today is Day 25 of the Thirty Days of Love. Today’s action is to learn more about truth, reconciliation, and how the power of forgiveness can lead us to better stand on the side of love. Click here for resources, family actions, and more! Click here for resources, family actions, and more! Click here to sign up for the daily Thirty Days of Love emails.
Today is a new day for the people of Maine. This very morning in the city of Bangor, the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is swearing in five newly selected commissioners.
In May 2011, Gov. Paul LaPage and the chiefs of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, Penobscot Indian Nation, the Houtlon Band of Maliseet Indians, and the Aroostook Band of Mickmacs signed an agreement to initiate a process of truth and reconciliation with regard to the child welfare practices in Maine where native children are 20 times more likely to be removed from their home and tribal community and placed in foster care. Maine is the first state in the country to initiate a process of truth and reconciliation with our indigenous communities.
Esther Attean and Denise Altvater, Passamaquoddy tribal members and founding staff of the TRC, were recently honored with Courageous Love Awards at the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Speaker Breakfast in Winthrop, Maine. Denise and Esther have worked countless hours to bring forward this historic and unique partnership. With numerous speaking engagements behind them and 3 years of work in front of them, they are changing lives and bringing the power of healing and transformation to people throughout Maine.
Esther and Denise have the rare ability to speak truth to the actions of Columbus, the colonization of the Americas, the Doctrine of Discovery, and the forced assimilation of native people, while owning their power and asking a room full of white folks to examine their privilege. And the truth telling doesn’t stop there. With undaunted courage, they bravely share their personal stories of generational trauma and imagine a new tomorrow for their people and the people of Maine.
Each time I hear Esther and Denise, I walk away empowered to enter more deeply into an honest openhearted engagement with my role as a colonizer and my life as the colonizers’ legacy.
Their work invites us to ask the question: how might the process of Truth and Reconciliation be implemented in a way that furthers the most pressing social justice issues of our time? How might it play a role in your own communities? Click here to learn more about Truth & Reconciliation.
Rev. Carie Johnsen
Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Augusta, Maine
PS: This morning, you can also watch a livestream of the Wabanaki Truth & Reconciliation Commission seating ceremony via their Facebook page.