Join in Days of Reflection, Prayer and Meditation, Feb. 10, 18 and 19

Days of Reflection, Prayer and Meditation


Maine-Wabanaki REACH chose this evocative image to symbolize the Days of Reflection, Prayer and Meditation by Camden-based photographer Jim Nickelson © All Rights Reserved.

Opportunity to send encouraging messages to the Passamaquoddy community at Motahkomikuk through Facebook, Twitter

Today and continuing on Feb. 18 and 19, members of the Passamaquoddy community at Motahkomikuk (Indian Township) will be sharing their painful experiences and stories of survival with the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC). This sharing is private and not open to the public.

During this time, the TRC and Maine-Wabanaki REACH are calling for Days of Reflection, Prayer and Meditation, asking individuals across Wabanaki and Maine communities to pause in support and solidarity with this historic process of truth, healing and change.

Individuals are also encouraged to share their thoughts, comments and wishes for the Passamaquoddy community at Motahkomikuk and for the TRC Commissioners via Facebook and Twitter.

The Maine Wabanaki TRC represents a historic agreement between Wabanaki Tribal Governments and the State of Maine to uncover and acknowledge the truth about what happened to Wabanaki children and families involved with the Maine Child Welfare system; to create opportunities to heal and learn from the truth; and to collaborate to operate the best child welfare system possible for Wabanaki children.

This process represents the first truth and reconciliation effort within U.S. territory that has been collaboratively developed between Indian nations and a state government. In June 2012, all five Wabanaki Tribal Government Chiefs and Governor Paul LePage signed a mandate specifying how the TRC should be conducted.

Maine-Wabanaki REACH is a cross-cultural collaborative that promotes best child welfare practice through reconciliation, engagement, advocacy, change and healing activities for and between Wabanaki and Maine citizens, communities and governments.

Sources: Maine-Wabanaki REACH and Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth & Reconciliation Commission.

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Four Portland churches unite to rouse ‘God’s Trombones,’ June 15

James Weldon Johnson photograph

Civil rights leader and poet James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) is being honored in Maine this weekend. This photograph, taken between 1900 and 1920, is from the NAACP Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (050.00.00). Courtesy of the NAACP.

Worship, conversation pay tribute to poet, civil rights leader James Weldon Johnson

Nearly 75 years after his death on a rainy Wiscasset morning, poet and early civil rights leader James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) will be honored with worship and community conversation during “God’s Trombones” at Trinity Church, 580 Forest Ave., Portland, on Sat., June 15, at 5 p.m.

A collaboration of four Portland churches, the event is free and open to the public. Donations benefit the Abyssinian Meeting House Restoration Project of Portland.

Church leaders will deliver sermon poems from “God’s Trombones,” the 1927 book in which Johnson sought to capture in verse the powerful instrument of the folk preacher’s voice. In the book’s introduction, he said, “The old-time Negro preacher is rapidly passing. I have here tried sincerely to fix something of him.”

Bringing the sermon poems to life are the Rev. Dr. H. Roy Partridge, Jr., of Trinity Church and Bowdoin College; Bishop Steve Coleman, Williams Temple Church of God in Christ; and the Rev. Kenneth I. Lewis, Jr., Green Memorial AME Zion Church.

After the service, Dean Benjamin Shambaugh of Cathedral Church of St. Luke will lead a community conversation with the preachers about the sermon poems’ significance today.

The Choir of Green Memorial AME Zion Church will sing the service’s spirituals and hymns. Organist Albert Melton of Cathedral Church of St. Luke will play the prelude and postlude.

Also contributing are guests from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Brunswick; Linda Ashe-Ford will offer the book’s preliminary “Listen Lord, A Prayer” and the Rev. Alfred Niese will introduce the service. Trinity Church Rector, the Rev. Lawrence Weeks, will welcome the congregation.

Almost 75 years ago, on June 26, 1938, Johnson died in Wiscasset from injuries sustained when his car was struck by a train. Johnson, along with wife Grace Nail Johnson who survived the crash, had been visiting friends in Thomaston.

More than 2,000 mourners flooded Johnson’s memorial service in Harlem. True to his wishes, Johnson was interred wearing his writing clothes, holding a copy of “God’s Trombones.”

He is perhaps best known for “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” his poem set to music by younger brother John Rosamond Johnson. Adopted by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) as its official song, it is often referred to as “The Black National Anthem.”

Gifted at uniting diverse groups for a shared purpose, Johnson made contributions to music, literature, history, education, journalism, law, diplomacy and civil rights during his 67 years.

He forged new paths as the first African-American to pass the Florida Bar, be appointed U.S. consul to Venezuela and Nicaragua, serve as faculty at New York University and become executive secretary for the NAACP, where he organized a national campaign to criminalize and eradicate lynching. Johnson also helped establish the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).

For more information, call (207) 443-8613.

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Maine TRC invites all to join today’s Day of Reflection

(From left) Maine TRC's Esther Attean Altvater, Penobscot Indian Nation Chief Kirk Francis and TRC Commissioner Dr. Gail Werrbach prepare for a TV news interview at the Announcing of the Commissioners event, held on Dec. 18. Dr. Werrbach is among the five TRC Commissioners being sworn in tomorrow in Hermon. (Photo by Arla Patch)

(From left) Maine TRC’s Esther Attean Altvater, Penobscot Indian Nation Chief Kirk Francis and Dr. Gail Werrbach meet with media at the Announcing of the Commissioners, Dec. 18. Dr. Werrbach is one of five Commissioners being sworn in tomorrow in Hermon. Photo by Arla Patch.

The Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) calls upon all people to help the group prepare for its difficult work by participating in a Day of Reflection, Meditation and Prayer today, Feb. 11.

A key moment in the Day of Reflection, Meditation and Prayer will be at 11 a.m. when all are asked to pause to consider the importance of the TRC and how everyone can support its three-fold purpose of uncovering the truth, promoting healing and making recommendations for best child welfare practices.

Tomorrow, Feb. 12, the five TRC Commissioners, Matthew Dunlap, gkisedtanamoogk, Dr. Gail Werrbach, Sandra White Hawk and Carol Wishcamper, will be officially sworn in during the Seating of the Commission, a day-long event held at the Morgan Hill Event Center, Hermon, starting at 10 a.m. The Seating of the Commission event will include remarks from the six governmental signatories, lunch, learning sessions, a Commission listening session and closing Tobacco Ceremony and song. The public is invited to attend the event.

The TRC represents a historic agreement between Wabanaki Tribal Governments and the State of Maine to uncover and acknowledge the truth about what happened to Wabanaki children and families involved with the Maine Child Welfare system; to create opportunities to heal and learn from the truth; and to collaborate to operate the best child welfare system possible for Wabanaki children.

The Maine TRC process represents the first truth and reconciliation effort within U.S. territory that has been collaboratively developed between Indian nations and a state government. Last June, all five Wabanaki Tribal Government Chiefs and Governor Paul LePage signed a Mandate document specifying how the TRC should be conducted.

If you wish to attend the TRC Seating of the Commission, please register with Esther Altvater Attean at eattean@usm.maine.edu or call (207) 615-3189.

Source: Maine TRC News Advisory
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Selection Panel announces names of Wabanaki-State Truth & Reconciliation Commissioners

The Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Selection Panel, the group tasked by the Wabanaki Tribal Governments and the State of Maine to select five Commissioners to serve on the TRC, has announced the names of the five Commissioners it has chosen.

TRC Interim Director Carolyn Morrison announced that the 13-member Selection Panel unanimously chose:

  • Matt Dunlap of Old Town
  • gkisedtanamoogk, Otter Clan, Mashpee Wampanoag, of Orono
  • Gail Werrbach of Bangor
  • Sandy White Hawk, Sicangu Lakota of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, St. Paul, Minn.
  • Carol Wishcamper of Freeport

Selection Panel member Lisa Sockabasin, Director of the Office of Minority Health at the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Maine Department of Health and Human Services, said, “This work was incredibly rewarding. We came together as individuals who didn’t know each other for the most part, and we were able to solidify as a group and complete this task of choosing, by consensus, a Commission of five people that all the signatories agreed upon. We took this work very seriously. We all understood the critical nature of our role within the larger TRC process. I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity.

“I am very proud of the TRC process and privileged to have been able to participate in the selection process. It was one of the most difficult tasks I have been part of – to choose five out of the many qualified, passionate, dedicated people that came forward was a daunting task that we didn’t take lightly. We are honored that so many individuals shared their time with us, and let us into their lives through this process. I am truly moved to know that such people exist here in our state,” said Molly Newell, Director of Sipayik Human Services, and a Selection Panel member.

The TRC represents a historic agreement between Wabanaki Tribal Governments and the State of Maine to uncover and acknowledge the truth about what happened to Wabanaki children and families involved with the Maine Child Welfare system, create opportunities to heal and learn from the truth, and collaborate to operate the best child welfare system possible for Wabanaki children, a goal shared by all the signatories to the TRC Mandate. The work to organize a tribal-state TRC started in 2008. It has been carried out by the Truth and Reconciliation Convening Group, individuals representing Maine Tribal Child Welfare, Maine State DHHS Office of Child and Family Services, and staff from the Muskie School of Public Service, American Friends Service Committee, and Wabanaki Health and Wellness.

“When the Convening Group researched other Commission selection processes and began creating a process that would work for this TRC, we understood the magnitude of this task. We also knew that the Selection Panel was going to face challenges being such a large group whose members represented diverse entities and were not centrally located geographically. I admire them for not only completing this task, but for having done it with the utmost respect and reverence for those that applied. I applaud the integrity of this group,” said Esther Attean, staffperson to the TRC working through the Muskie School of Public Service and a key participant in all the TRC deliberations since its inception.

Last June, all five Wabanaki Tribal Government Chiefs and Governor Paul LePage signed the Mandate document and accompanying Selection Panel description delineating how the TRC Commissioners would be selected. Today’s announcement fulfilled the first part of the agreement signed by the six collaborating governments on June 29, 2012.

Selection Panel members remarked how much they enjoyed serving on the body and how many of them found it a highlight of their professional careers. Selection Panel members included:

  • Libby McCullum, representing the Maine judicial system
  • Kimberly Monaghan-Derrig, representing the Judiciary Committee of the Maine Legislature
  • Beth O’Connor, representing the Health and Human Services Committee of the Maine Legislature
  • Lisa Sockabasin, representing the Executive Branch of State Government
  • Janice Stuver, representing the Maine Attorney General’s Office
  • Stephanie Bailey, representing the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Motahkmikuk
  • Norman Bernard, representing the Aroostook Band of Micmacs
  • Mark Chavaree, representing the Penobscot Indian Nation
  • Tina Downing, representing the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Sipayik
  • Connie Smith, representing the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians
  • Molly Newell and Martha Proulx, representing the TRC Convening Group
  • Paul Thibeault, representing the Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission

The Commission process represents the first truth and reconciliation effort within U.S. territory that has been collaboratively developed between Indian nations and a state government. Tuesday’s announcement completes the TRC Selection Panel’s work.

Next steps for the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission include the swearing in and formal seating of the five Commissioners expected to take place in the first quarter of 2013, hiring of a staff to work with the Commission, orienting of the Commission to be done by the TRC Convening Group and others, and the Commission establishing its operating procedures. Under the Mandate document, the Commission has 27 months from the date of its first meeting to complete its work with the possibility of petitioning the six governments for an extension of up to six more months.

For more information about the TRC, visit the website at http://mainetribaltrc.org and the Maine TRC Facebook page.

Source: Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth & Reconciliation Commission
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Wabanaki-State TRC to name commissioners Tuesday

The Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth & Reconciliation (TRC) Selection Panel will announce its commissioners at a news conference scheduled for Tue., Dec. 18, at 1:30 p.m. The event will take place at the Nick Sapiel Building, large conference room, 27 Wabanaki Way, Indian Island, Maine.

The TRC Selection Panel has been tasked by the Wabanaki Tribal Governments and the State of Maine to select five commissioners to serve on the TRC. Tuesday’s announcement completes the TRC Selection Panel’s work. Many selection panel members and TRC commissioners will be on-hand.

The TRC represents a historic agreement between Wabanaki Tribal Governments and the State of Maine to:

  • Uncover and acknowledge the truth about what happened to Wabanaki children and families involved with the Maine Child Welfare system;
  • Create opportunities to heal and learn from the truth;
  • Collaborate to operate the best child welfare system possible for Wabanaki children, a goal shared by all the signatories to the TRC Mandate.

The TRC process represents the first truth and reconciliation effort within U.S. territory that has been collaboratively developed between Indian nations and a state government.  The work to organize a tribal-state TRC has been carried out by the Truth and Reconciliation Convening Group; individuals representing Maine Tribal Child Welfare; Maine State DHHS Office of Child and Family Services; and staff from the Muskie School of Public Service; American Friends Service Committee; and Wabanaki Health and Wellness.

In June, all five Wabanaki Tribal Government Chiefs and Governor Paul LePage signed the Mandate document, along with the accompanying Selection Panel description, describing how the TRC Commissioners would be selected.

Source: Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth & Reconciliation Commission
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