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TEDxDirigo: RISE State Theatre, Portland, Maine

Jamie Bissonette Chair, Maine Indian Tribal State Commission

  • 2015

Jamie Bissonette is Abenaki. She is the chair of the Maine Indian Tribal State Commission and coordinates the Healing Justice Program for the American Friends Service Committee in New England. She is one of the founders of the Healing and Transformative Justice Center that gathers, supports and shares essential healing methodologies. There are many projects that address individual healing—this project focuses on healing of whole communities or nations. She also sits on the board of the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, which focuses on the needs of families who have lost their children to the gun violence in Boston.
The core of the AFSC New England program is the development of Healing methods. Our work has as its focus the reparation of damaged and disordered social relations and endeavors to restabilize these relationships, revitalize our communities and create capacity for a peaceful future.

Over the past 30 years, Jamie has worked in Mexico with Native People who were migrating between Ejidos in Mexico and farm worker jobs in the United States; and in South Africa after the political parties were unbanned developing justice practices within the Xhosa Communities in the Townships of Gugulethu and Khayalitsha. In the United States, she has worked with Tribal Communities in the ancestral region of her People, Southern Canada and New England focusing on criminal justice and emerging Tribal justice issues. She has also convened Tribal Leadership Nation-wide on religious freedom, sovereignty and treaty issues. In 2013, the Episcopal Divinity School recognized her lifelong work in healing justice when they awarded her an Honorary Doctorate in Divinity.

Because of her lifelong work in Aboriginal communities, she works with victims, prisoners, their families, and their communities in the struggle for dignity and self-determination focusing on sovereignty and responsibility rather than rights and entitlements. The people she has worked with have taught her that every community has the shared wisdom to solve its own problems. She focuses on juvenile justice issues and prevention because the protection and education of our children is vital to our future.