We encourage private and public land-holding entities and entities that work closely with them to participate in the second cohort of the Learning Journey component of First Light. In order to participate, please submit your letter of commitment to firstlightmaine@gmail.com by September 15th, 2020.

The goals of First Light are to expand Wabanaki access and stewardship of land for prosperity and to create a stronger conservation movement that includes and reflects Indigenous expertise and perspective. All will benefit from this, and it all begins with the land.

First Light is 3 years old and in addition to fostering connections, our major accomplishments include the co-creation of a Wabanaki Commission on Land and Stewardship (Nil yut ktahkomiq nik, the whole earth is our home) representing all five tribal communities, the co-creation of a Conservation Community Delegation to pool and focus the financial and human resources of Maine’s conservation community, a very successful Katahdin Gathering of participants from the Tribal communities and from conservation groups, and the granting of harvest permits over 62,000 acres.

This cohort of the Learning Journey focuses on private and public land-holding entities and entities that work closely with them. The goals of the Learning Journey are to build awareness and understanding about Indigenous land loss, to develop and practice equitable principles for Native engagement, and to create new tools to share land and resources. Another significant goal of the Learning Journey is to broaden and increase the number of groups who might be willing and able to step up to facilitate or convey access rights, to organize the repatriation of land, and to work alongside Wabanaki Tribal communities in acquiring new lands.  Per request of our Wabanaki colleagues, members of this cohort need to demonstrate and express documented organizational commitment to the journey.

An overview of the year-long curriculum can be accessed here and includes a 12 hour program designed and led by Maine Wabanaki REACH. This cohort is anticipated to begin in mid-September 2020 and would involve approximately 12 days of your time.

First Light Learning Journey makes real the principles of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion within the conservation movement.  Our program is focused on specific individual leaders working within organizations committed to the process of learning, evolving and returning of land, access and resources to Wabanaki tribes.  Building awareness and understanding is the means by which we get to our end goal of repairing and returning land at the speed of trust.

The level of commitment we need to continue to be effective is high: 1) an organizational commitment letter, similar to this example, the 2) designation of 2 people from your organization, and the 3) commitment from them that they will participate in all of the core programs throughout the year.

We believe that participation of 2 people from each organization is essential in order to carry the learning back to each respective organization.  We suggest one participant to be a senior staff member and the other a board member, but this is not a requirement. These two people will be critical to the process of organizational change that is necessary to meet our goals.

The financial costs of our curriculum and program are underwritten by Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, Kalliopeia Foundation, Broad Reach Fund, Quimby Family Foundation and more than a dozen individual donors. A small number of fellowships are available to help offset travel costs for organizations for whom these costs are an obstacle to engagement.

To help you consider this invitation and its responsibilities, we urge you to:

  1. Read the curriculum overview.
  2. Spend time on the resource pages of First Light.
  3. Speak with any of the previous participants in First Light or the Conservation Community Delegation: Jess Burton, Susan Caldwell, Molly Payne-Wynne, Kirstin Peet, Steve Tatko, Ciona Ulbrich, or Bryan Wentzell.
  4. Participate in the upcoming First Light informational webinar and Q&A (Date and time TBA).
  5. Speak with us personally about your questions.

We hope that you will become a participant by providing us with your commitment letter by September 15, 2020.