Photo Credit: James E. Francis Sr.
REACH continues to put forth the idea of restorative justice and other restorative practices in tribal communities. Restorative Justice is a philosophy, process, and practice rooted in indigenous cultural values and focused on making things right-on repairing harm. These practices are valuable tools in mediating conflict and creating safe, peaceful spaces of mutual respect and compassion.
We held three regional restorative justice educational events with tribal community audiences. The discussion at these forums was rich and community members offered two suggestions for us in this work: provide more education about restorative justice and engage with each of the schools. We have been moved by the enthusiasm of participants when brainstorming the possibilities that restorative practices might bring to our tribal schools. In June, we presented to the Joint School Committee at their annual meeting in Bar Harbor and will visit Indian Island School Committee for further dialogue in January.
We are excited about the traveling Restorative Justice Exhibit we have created and the many ways we can use it to educate about what restorative justice is, what it is not, and how it aligns with Wabanaki values. The 8-panel display also includes information about how Native Americans experience the highest disproportionate rate of incarceration. To help deliver our message we used paintings created and donated by a Native inmate who participates in the healing circles we offer at the prisons. We debuted the exhibit at our annual Wabanaki Wellness Gathering in Sipayik and are currently seeking venues in Wabanaki communities to display the exhibit and continue dialogue about restorative practices. Conflict in our communities is inevitable. How we deal with it is a choice.
We are also in the process of creating another exhibit geared toward non-Native people that will be used in venues across Maine to educate about history, disproportionate rates of incarceration, the prison industrial complex, restorative justice and ways to engage with truth, healing and change.