(From left) Martha Proulx from Maine DHHS, Denise Altvater, Director of the Wabanaki Program, Jennifer Rooks, Maine Watch, Esther Attean, Maine TRC and Muskie School of Public Service, and Amy Greulich, Intern with Maine TRC pose after filming of the Maine Watch Program about the Maine TRC.Photo: AFSC / Amy Greulich
Please join the community of Maine and Wabanaki people in a day of reflection, meditation, and prayer today. Tomorrow, with the seating of the Maine-Wabanaki Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), they will embark on a historic undertaking to uncover the truth, promote healing, and make recommendations for the best child welfare practices, while finding peaceful ways to move forward together.
Throughout Maine, people will take time to think about the importance of the truth and reconciliation process and how everyone can support its work. Lucy Duncan, AFSC's Friends liaison, has posted a prayer reflecting on the TRC: The journey home: a prayer for healing.
Moving from loss to healing and hope
Decades after the federally sponsored Indian Adoption Project tried (and failed) to prove that native children would be better off raised by white families, the idea persisted in Maine. As late as 1984, the state had one of the highest rates of removal of native children in the country.
Denise Altvater, who coordinates AFSC’s Wabanaki Program in Maine, was among those placed into an abusive foster home as a child.
Over a decade ago, she was first asked to share her story as part of an effort to help state workers in Maine understand the significance of the Indian Child Welfare Act. After many years of close collaboration with child welfare workers, she helped open the way for a truth and reconciliation process in Maine.
In a recent interview with Acting in Faith, Denise told the story of how the truth and reconciliation commission came to be: “How a community heals.”