What is Truth and Reconciliation?
Since the first such commission in the wake of South African Apartheid, Truth and Reconciliation Commissions seek to help people and governments move forward from trauma and oppression toward healing, equity, and unity.
"You had two choices as you addressed the challenge of rebuilding: pursue justice at the expense of peace, or pursue peace at the expense of justice. The answer he and his colleagues found was Truth and Reconciliation." -Barry Lopez on Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
Why is Truth & Reconciliation Important?
"Countries around the world have utilized these transitional justice mechanisms following mass human rights violations in an effort to promote healing and reconciliation and to seek justice for Survivors." --Truth and Reconciliation Commission Canada
Truth and Reconciliation is meant to "guide and inspire a process of truth and healing, leading toward reconciliation within Aboriginal families, and between Aboriginal peoples and non-Aboriginal communities, churches, governments, and Canadians generally. The process was to work to renew relationships on a basis of inclusion, mutual understanding, and respect." --Truth and Reconciliation Commission Canada
Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission
In 2008, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission was formed in Canada to investigate the harm done by the country's residential school system, which threatened indigenous ways of life with erasure. The process resulted in 94 "Calls to Action," guidelines for the Canadian government to follow in the pursuit of reconciliation.
“It’s an extraordinary amount of work that’s been done and it shows that all Canadians have to come together now and recognize the historic mistake that was the residential schools. It’s a time for healing. It’s a time for us to do things differently.” — NDP Leader Tom Mulcair.
Maine and the Wabanaki
The first of its kind in the US, the "Maine-Wabanaki REACH is a cross-cultural collaboration that successfully supported the Maine Wabanaki State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission." The commission sought to "discover what happened to Wabanaki families in the child welfare system, recommend improvements, and illuminate the path toward healing and cooperation." The process brought light to the truth of a racist child welfare system.
“When we bring that out and open that wound...we have to put something back in it that very same time... The most incredible thing...for that healing is each other, because when we went through that experience, we experienced that alone. We experienced it in isolation.”-Sandy White Hawk
Truth and ReconciliACTION: Washington State
Truth and Reconciliation opens a door for healing for the Nations and Tribes of Washington, and a way to move forward toward more peace, equity, and justice in our State. With an emphasis on action toward healing, the hope is to mitigate or begin to heal the trauma for those whose ways of life have faced extinguishment. The best way to act now is to require our State government to form a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.