“We have heard the voices of the many who spoke with us and to remain quiet is to continue to perpetrate harms that must be known. Consider this report as a step toward refusing that silence and continuing this conversation, that will, we hope, like all the best communication, offer ample time for everyone to simply listen.”
Excerpt from the final Report of the Commission
The Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission (the Commission) led a truth-seeking process from February 2013 to June 2015 to uncover the truth about child-welfare practice with Maine’s Native people.
The Commission and its staff traveled thousands of miles to the villages and communities of Maine to hear people’s testimonies.
They reviewed state documents and interviewed over 150 people.
They sought to create opportunities for people to heal and learn from what they discovered.
The archives of the testimony and evidence collected can be found on-line at the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections and Archives at Bowdoin College, including instructions for how information can be contributed to the archives.
What was unique about this Commission?
This was the first Commission to focus Native issues with child welfare in the US, the first known Commission that was collaboratively formed by “both sides” of the conflict, and this Commission’s focus on healing was distinctive.
The Child Welfare League of America published this article which described how the Commission came to be.
The 2014 book, Indigenous People’s Access to Justice, Including Truth and Reconciliation Processes contained a chapter, Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Perceptions and Understandings, which described the Commission’s significance in relation to truth and reconciliation commissions around the world.
“And what now, beyond those initial conversations? What now, beyond the mandate? How do we carry it forward? Because, I believe, none of us is exempt from that responsibility.”
– Charlotte Bacon, Commission Executive Director
Dawnland, a documentary about the Commission’s work, was released in 2018 and received an Emmy Award for Best Documentary Research. First Light, a brief film, introduces the history behind the Commission.