Maine Forum to feature Wabanaki Truth and Reconciliation Commission


The Great Falls Forum on Thursday, March 16, will feature Penthea Burns and Barbara Kates from Maine Wabanaki REACH. The program will take place from noon to 1 p.m. in Callahan Hall at the Lewiston Public Library. The presentation is titled “Truth, Healing and Change: Why Maine Needed a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”

REACH — Reconciliation-Engagement-Advocacy-Change-Healing — began as a collaboration of state and tribal child welfare workers who knew from their work together that major inequities existed in the way that the state dealt with family issues within Maine’s Native-American communities. Through their advocacy, they were able to establish the Maine Wabanaki State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2013.

The commission released its findings and recommendations two years later and since that time, much of the work directed at healing and change has been led by Maine Wabanaki REACH. Burns and Kates will talk about the founding of REACH and discuss the historical treatment of Native-American children that led to the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Penthea Burns, senior associate at the Muskie School of Public Service, co-directs Maine-Wabanaki REACH.  Since 1999, she has been working with the Wabanaki tribal child welfare programs and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to improve Maine’s compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

Barbara Kates is a community organizer for REACH and is involved with designing and delivering community presentations and ally building workshops to increase understanding of Maine’s shared history with the Wabanaki people.

Admission is free to all Forum events and no reservations are required. This program is a bring-your-own brown-bag lunch. Coffee, tea and bottled water will be available at the library.

The Great Falls Forum is co-sponsored by Bates College, Lewiston Public Library and the Sun Journal. The Lewiston Public Library is at 200 Lisbon St. at the corner of Pine Street.

More information on Thursday’s lecture or other upcoming events in the Great Falls Forum series is available by contacting the Lewiston Public Library at 207-513-3135 or

Link to original article in the Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal.


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