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Truth & Reconciliation

Wabanaki REACH conceptualized, established, and guided the process of the historic Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Planning began in earnest in 2008, the Commission was seated in February 2013 and concluded its investigation into Wabanaki experiences in Maine’s child welfare system in June 2015. 

The Commission and its staff traveled thousands of miles to communities in Maine to hear testimony and sit in circle with Wabanaki and Maine people. They reviewed state documents, recorded interviews with over 150 people, and sought to create opportunities for people to heal and learn from what they uncovered.  

Read the Commission’s findings and recommendations or access the full report.

Access the archives of the testimony and evidence the Commission collected at the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections and Archives at Bowdoin College. 

The Commission was the first one in the United States to focus Native issues with child welfare and was also the first to be collaboratively formed by “both sides” of a conflict.  

This article provides more information about how the Commission process was created.

This website provides more information about the process, resources for continued learning, and a video with reflections from the Commissioners: 

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.

First Light, a brief film, introduces the history behind the Commission. 

Information about Dawnland, an EMMY winning full-length documentary on the Commission process. 

Interviews with many people involved with the Commission appeared on Safe Space Radio.

When we created the Commission, we were fortunate to be able to learn directly from the leaders of the truth commission processes in Greensboro, NC and Canada. We remain grateful for their support and in turn, graciously share our experiences with other groups who are embarking on a similar journey.  We have accepted invitations to lend our expertise in many forums across the country.