State Government

At first Truth and Reconciliation Commission, participants identify their race, white privilege

Meeting opens with land acknowledgement that Vermont is Abenaki homeland

The Vermont Statehouse

by Maya Porter for Community News Service

More than 30 people turned out for the first meeting of Vermont’s new Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Tuesday, September 5, in which officials introduced themselves and set an open-minded tone for their work.

The commission was set up by Act 128 in 2022 to record and make recommendations regarding instances of discrimination and harm against marginalized communities caused by state laws and policies. The three commissioners are each paid $80,000 per Act 128 requirements.

Commissioner Melody Mackin led the virtual meeting, noting that the gavel would change hands every time between her two fellow commissioners, Mia Schultz and Patrick Standen.

Faith Yacubian — the commission’s newly appointed executive director — was also in attendance.

Commissioners said they want to ensure representation and visibility for all Vermonters through their work and in their meetings. Case in point: Mackin began with a statement acknowledging Vermont as the homeland of the Western Abenaki and Mohican tribes. The meeting also featured a sign language interpreter, and each commissioner gave a physical description of themselves to aid attendees with vision problems. 

Commissioners spent time letting attendees know what to expect during the group’s meetings, which are set to run once a month. Attendees should be honest, open-minded and respectful — and that commissioners would be held to those same standards, Schultz said. By showing up, she continued, attendees should expect discomfort, be aware of others and their differences and accept the nonclosure that often can come with discussions of race.

Three people in attendance spoke about what they’d like to see the commission accomplish — mostly in general terms, but one speaker did offer a specific critique: the officials’ failure to note their race when describing themselves. “White is not the default,” said the speaker, who only identified themselves as Rhy, adding that everyone should say “who and what they are.”

That prompted each commission member to state their race; Yacubian said that she has white privilege and Standen thanked the community member for the reminder. 

State Rep. Kevin Christie, D-Hartford, one of the three lead sponsors on the bill that created the commission, said at the meeting that seeing the commission in action “was humbling” and he was “looking forward to the journey.” 

Schultz echoed the sentiment: She said she was excited “to come to a place where we can be heard, the invisible now be visible.”

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is set to meet once a month. People can send   questions and suggestions via email to

Categories: State Government

18 replies »

  1. [The Ministry of Truth] was startlingly different from any other object in sight. It was an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete, soaring up, terrace after terrace, 300 metres into the air. From where Winston stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party:




  2. This undertaking is “…to record and make recommendations regarding instances of discrimination and harm against marginalized communities caused by state laws and policies.” So, if our society has “marginalized” a group of citizens, this commission aims to correct the laws and policies that contribute to that? It’s encouraging that some recognition is being given to the unintended detrimental impacts of our “laws and policies”. Perhaps some of the groups most oppressed by governmental over reach can expect some relief.

  3. The Truth is a group of egomaniacs who need to reconcile their own prejudices and phantom fears instilled by their shadow selves and their Master.

  4. Just what we need in Vermont, another commission that is not responsive or responsible to the people, to “advise” the state as to what it is doing, or has done wrong, and how to fix it . Brings to mind the “advisory” green folks that the legislature gave away so much power to in the S5 issue. When will we see people “with a pair” that will make the hard decisions themselves, and not farm it out to all powerful non governmental “commissions”? Chicken____s !

  5. Sounds like a bogus form of the KU Klux Klan. Who else would be interested in identifying individuals or groups by race or ethnicity under the guise of “truth and reconciliation”?

  6. Just in the “For what it’s Worth…” department. The cost of this sham commission is estimated to be around $4,500,000.00 over the initial three years of it’s operation. (Joint Fiscal Office report, 15 March, 2022) This is a worthless, bogus, committee–a jobs program for liberal losers–appointed by the woke progressives in Vermont Government, and we, the under represented taxpayers, get to foot the bill for this travesty. I can think of about 4.5 million other uses for my money then paying to give voice to a handful of self righteous idiots…

    • Amen ! Thanks for doing the leg work to find out how much these disingenuous d-bags are bilking us for .

  7. The stipulation that Abenaki are the first settlers of the land is true in the far north. Mahican tribes of the Stockbridge band reputedly occupied lands in both Windham and Bennington Counties. And the Ossippee/ Penacook confederation were active far up the Connecticut valley. So the claim that Quebec connected Abenaki are the “original” possessors of Vermont is very incomplete. And in the 18th century, the Quebec nation made three disastrous international alliances in a row, arguably forfeiting their claims.

    • There is also the point that the Native American is not indigenous to America. These people’s ancestors came from Mongolia and Siberia over an ice bridge that receaded over a long period of time. There was a study done collaboratively by many universities. They excavated bones and determined the DNA and migration path. These people migrated back and forth until the ice bridge disappeared. They then migrated through America, South America and Canada. I sent the research paper to the school system and they ignored me.

  8. I’m not an albino (even they’re not white, rather pink), but I’m certainly not white. I’m unsure of the percentage of melanin in my skin. I’m a mix of French Canadian, English and Scottish. My family has been here since 1789. Am I a native, invader?…don’t know, don’t care. I don’t assess or treat people based on the amount of melanin they have or their ethnic roots, I take each person individually as they come, I have no apology for history that I didn’t personally participate in. I live today with an eye towards tomorrow

  9. Dear T&R Commissioners, my elders were called “Dirty Irish” by the Crown colonizers. It hurts my feelings. Please cut me a six-figure check so I can feel better. Thank you!

  10. Sounds like a cousin to the California Commission on reparations who want to give every black Californian citizen $ 1.2 million dollars, because of black slavery for the white privilege (of which neither exists today). There is no legislation in that commission either. As if California has any black citizens that are alive that actually were slaves in the U.S.
    The problem with commissions is they become a second arm of government that are appointed, not voted into office by the people. That is not how our government is supposed to work in a Constitutional Republic. WE THE PEOPLE representation doesn’t exist unless you’re part of the same club. All others are not represented.

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