One of Vermont’s Truth and Reconciliation commissioners steps down
Vermont's newly formed Truth and Reconciliation Commission now has just two state-appointed commissioners. That's after Patrick Standen resigned earlier this month.
Standen had taught philosophy and medical ethics at St. Michael’s College and the University of Vermont, and cited his desire to return to teaching full-time in a statement shared at a commission meeting this week.
“We respect his decision, we will greatly miss him, and we will continue to learn from his experiences and his contributions,” said Faith Yacubain, the executive director of the commission.
The group isn’t able to hire Standen's replacement without approval from the Legislature, according to Melody Mackin, one of the other commissioners.
“Because it wasn’t built into the statute, we have to wait until the Legislature decides on how to move forward,” she said.
The commission should still be able to do its job — it was formed out of state legislation that called for the establishment of a public record of discrimination caused by state laws and policies and to identify ways to repair harm.
They’ll hold the first public discussions of cases of systemic discrimination perpetuated by the state of Vermont in the coming weeks – on Nov. 29, Dec.1, and potentially Dec. 7.
Prior to those meetings, the commission will continue to collect potential cases of discrimination in Vermont.
“Cases that could draw a number of themes or themes that we can get testimony from – please submit them,” said Mia Schultz, the other commissioner.
During public comment, one person suggested the commission investigate contested claims that Vermont's state-recognized tribes are made up of people who aren't Abenaki.
“If this were true, I think that would have a significant impact on the work of the TRC because it would be a violation of Indigenous sovereignty that’s perpetrated by the state of Vermont in its recognition process,” said Jules Lees, a member of the public who said she's been following the work of the commission. “I would like to suggest that one of the cases that the TRC investigate would be this claim.”
At Tuesday's meeting, the commission also finalized its mission statement.
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