The BTS Center
97 India Street • Portland, ME 04101

May 14, 2021

Dear Friends:

There is a scene in Dawnland where several well-intentioned non-native people sit around a table with several of their native colleagues, grappling with what it means to be committed to a process of truth and reconciliation. Esther Anne (Passamaquoddy from Sipayik)—who was instrumental in the creation and establishment of the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission—says in the film, “We knew from the beginning that non-native people wanted to jump right into the reconciliation.”

That scene, with Esther’s clarity and insight, has been working on me. Reconciliation sounds and is beautiful. But there is a lot of truth that we must grapple with en route to collective healing and change.

I am the descendent of white, European settlers. I live and work in the State of Maine, which is on the homeland of the Wabanaki, the People of the Dawn—the Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, Micmac, Maliseet, and Abenaki people—who have lived and worked here for generations.

I love it here. I love people. I love diversity. I have good intentions. I want to be of use. And none of that is the point. The point is that there are stories, histories of lived experience, that we need to hear and heed. 

We need to hear these stories, we need to tend to our own grappling, and certainly hope for healing and wholeness. But I think that it is important for folks like me, who are heeding these stories for the first time, that we do not rush out of discomfort and into narratives of false solutions. I think we need to listen, and then figure out how to commit ourselves to a long walk, to the ongoing process of truth and reconciliation.

Wherever you are on that long walk, even if you have yet to start, we invite you to join us at 6:30pm on Thursday, May 20th for a public online screening of the Emmy® award-winning film Dawnland, followed by a Q&A with film participant Esther Anne of Wabanaki REACH and film senior advisor Chris Newell (Passamaquoddy) of the Abbe Museum.

With gratitude,
Aram Mitchell
Director of Partnerships & Formation • The BTS Center
Dawnland — Online Film Screening and Live Q&A

Thursday May 20, 2021
6:30 - 8:30 pm (Eastern)

In partnership with Upstander Project we are hosting a public online screening of the Emmy® award-winning film Dawnland, followed by a Q&A with film participant Esther Anne of Wabanaki REACH and film senior advisor Chris Newell (Passamaquoddy) of the Abbe Museum.
We strive to match The BTS Center’s vision — of human hearts renewed, justice established, and creation restored — with the practice of collective self-examination. We need to hear and heed the stories and lived-experiences of the people whose roots are in this place, and who have suffered from the occupation and colonization of their homeland.

At The BTS Center, many in our community are descendents of white, European settlers in this land. Many of us live and work in Maine, which is the homeland of the Wabanaki, the People of the Dawn; the Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, Micmac, Maliseet, and Abenaki people who have lived and worked here for generations stewarding their own cultures, and stewarding the forests, the soil, the waters, the air, and our more-than-human kin.  

We hope that this screening and conversation will help to raise awareness and inspire action among congregations, other community groups, and all people of good will. We hope you will join us in heeding this story.

“For decades, child welfare authorities have been removing Native American children from their homes to ‘save them from being Indian.’ In Maine, the first official Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the United States begins a historic investigation. Dawnland goes behind-the-scenes as this historic body grapples with difficult truths, redefines reconciliation, and charts a new course for state and tribal relations.” (from Upstander Project’s website)

This event is free, but we are accepting donations. All donations will go to Upstander Project, the creative force behind the Dawnland film. Upstander Project helps bystanders become upstanders through compelling documentary films and learning resources.

EVENT SCHEDULE (all times Eastern)
Thursday May 20, 2021
  • 6:30 pm: Welcoming Videos and Film Introduction
  • 6:40 pm: Dawnland Film
  • 7:30 pm: Film Team Q & A

For more information about Dawnland visit and you can watch the trailer below.
Please consider this notice from the Dawnland Viewer’s Guide (available here): 
“Watching the film may especially impact those in the audience who were separated from their family, sent to boarding school, adopted or fostered, and we strongly encourage viewers to consider this prior to watching the film so all can be well supported while viewing. Please take care of yourself and others.”

How will I access the screening?
The screening will occur on the OVEE website. Once you register, we will automatically send you a link to access the streaming platform. This link will be sent a couple of days prior to the event. If you have not received your link the day before the event, please check your spam folder for the email containing the link.

What device can I use to watch the live stream?
A computer or large screen device that you use to watch movies is ideal. As long as your device is able to stream video from the internet you are all set. A tablet or phone that can stream video will also work. Please test that your device is compatible with the screening platform here:

How do I know if I am in the right place for the screening?
Using the link we will provide to you via email prior to the event you will land in a virtual waiting room, and once the screening is opened you will automatically begin seeing the video content that is playing there. After you follow the link for the screening, you are all set — no further action is needed.

Why does the platform say I am too young to enter the screening?
If you see a message that says you are too young to enter the screening, this is because you have entered a birthdate that puts you under 18 years old. If you have done this by mistake, you must clear the cookies on your current browser, or you may open the screening link in a different browser and enter the correct birthdate.

What's the refund policy?
As this event is accepting donations only we do not typically offer refunds. If you are unable to access the screening and would like a refund please email us.

Why do I have to enter my birthday on the OVEE streaming platform?
This is to ensure that you are over 18 years old.
The BTS Center | 207.774.5212 | |
Allen Ewing-Merrill
Executive Director

Kay Ahmed
Office Manager
Nicole Diroff
Program Director

Aram Mitchell
Director of Partnerships & Formation

Ben Yosua-Davis
Director of Applied Research
 Our mission is to catalyze spiritual imagination with enduring wisdom for transformative faith leadership.
We equip and support faith leaders for theologically grounded and effective 21st-century ministries.