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Nominations sought for Wabanaki panel
STATEWIDE — The Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth & Reconciliation (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, invites the public to nominate people for the Selection Panel’s consideration.
The Selection Panel seeks individuals of recognized integrity, empathy, stature and respect with a demonstrated commitment to the values of truth, reconciliation, equity and justice. Nominations must be received by October 1.
The Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth & Reconciliation process is a first-in-the-world effort of Indigenous Peoples and a political subdivision of a state to examine an issue, in this instance what happened to Wabanaki People in the State of Maine child welfare system, to develop a common understanding of what happened, to support healing of everyone affected by the system, and to identify possible system reforms to create the best child welfare system possible.
On May 24, 2011, the five Wabanaki Tribal Governments - the Aroostook Band of Micmacs, Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, Passamaquoddy Tribe at Motahkmikuk, Passamaquoddy Tribe at Sipayik and Penobscot Indian Nation - joined the State of Maine to sign a Declaration of Intent committing the signatories to undertake a truth and reconciliation process exploring what happened to Wabanaki People in the child welfare system focusing on the period since the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978.
The governments followed that initial step by signing the TRC Mandate on June 29, which provides the instructions for how the TRC will be carried out.
The idea for the Tribal-State TRC originated within a 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.
Prior to the formation of the Convening Group, Wabanaki and State representatives had been collaborating for years, achieving substantial progress with the collective goal to improve the child welfare system for Wabanaki children. In spite of this progress, Maine’s child welfare history continues to impact Wabanaki children and families today.
The governments have come to realize that they must unearth the story of Wabanaki people’s experiences in order to fully uphold the spirit, letter and intent of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in a way that is consistent with the law and promotes healing.
In 1978, the U.S. Congress passed ICWA, which codified higher standards of protection for the rights of Native children, their families and their Tribal communities.
Within the ICWA, Congress stated that, “No resource is more vital to the continued existence and integrity of Indian tribes than their children” and that “Child welfare agencies had failed to recognize the essential tribal relations of Indian people and the culture and social standards prevailing in Indian communities and families” (25 U.S.C.& 1901).
Everyone is encouraged to nominate individuals who meet the selection criteria established by the six signatories. People can nominate other individuals or themselves. To nominate an individual, people should use the Commissioner Nomination Form created by the TRC Selection Panel.
Nominations may also be submitted by going to the TRC website, www.mainetribaltrc.org. Any questions about the TRC nominations process or the TRC in general can be directed to Interim Director Carolyn Morrison at 896-3042 or firstname.lastname@example.org.