MANISTEE, Michigan (WJMN) – The Native Justice Coalition, a Michigan-based Native American non-profit launched what it calls a initiative to create healing and justice for boarding school survivors and communities. It is called the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“Between 1869 and the 1960s, hundreds of thousands of Native American children were removed from their homes and families and placed in boarding schools operated by the federal government and the churches. Though we don’t know how many children were taken in total, by 1900 there were 20,000 children in Indian boarding schools, and by 1925 that number had more than tripled.”

National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition

The Native Justice Coalition wrote in a release that the commission was formed by a variety of community members to create a strategic plan which outlines the goals and processes to carry out the priorities of the group.

Those four key areas outlined in the release are:

  • Establish strong advocacy for programs, services, and public policies that will lead to the truth, healing, justice, and reconciliation associated with the Indian Boarding School policies and the adoption practice of Indigenous infants and children.
  • Ensure survivors and descendants have access to the resources needed to heal from intergenerational trauma.
  • Protect Indigenous children from abuse, neglect, and trafficking by strengthening the State of Michigan’s compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).
  • Build a strong ecosystem through investment in the Native Justice Coalition overall so we can sustain this work for the community for at least 10 years.

“I think that TRC will have an impact on our community in various ways. Bridges can be built between differences and help relationships. The cycle of violence, PTSD, and past injustices can be healed and understood. With community healing, individuals are healed as well. Whenever our people gather, healing occurs through our shared stories and experiences. We want to do this work, we will face resistance but we will continue to move forward for the greater community,” Said Lori Ann Sherman, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College President, NJC Board President & TRC Working Group Member.

A full strategic plan is expected to be released to the public in July.

Official launch events will take place on Wednesday, July 20th and on July 22nd at the 2nd Annual Children’s Remembrence Walk in the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.

You can register and learn more information here.