The Revere Human Rights Commission (HRC) held its regular monthly meeting last Thursday evening (November 2) in the City Council Chamber.
Chairperson Chaimaa (Shay) Hossaini and fellow members Molly McGee, Assistant Superintendent of Equity and Inclusion and Chair of the Equity Advisory Board of the Revere Public Schools Dr. Lourenco Garcia, and Kourou Pich were on hand for the meeting.
The members opened the meeting by having a moment of silence for what Hossaini termed “the innocent lives lost in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.” The commission then held the usual Land Acknowledgement in which the commission acknowledges the Pawtucket Tribe as “the original overseers of this land.”
Hossaini then announced the various observances that are scheduled in the upcoming month: Native-American and Native Alaskan Heritage Month, Day of the Dead, World Freedom Day, Veterans Day, World Kindness Day, International Day of Tolerance, International Students Day, Trangender Day of Remembrance, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday.
Hossaini then recalled the Circle Process that was conducted at the October meeting by Irene “Strong Oak” Lefebvre, who is the executive director and founder of the Visioning B.E.A.R. Circle Intertribal Coalition Inc., in which participants held conversations surrounding Indigenous People’s Day and Columbus Day.
Hossaini said that she herself “learned a lot about Indigenous People’s Day and became informed about why this holiday is important on a deeper level and why we definitely should integrate it into our city in order to represent those who haven’t been represented in the past and to provide justice for those who have not received justice before.”
“I really enjoyed it,” added McGee. “I feel very honored as a commissioner to have been able to experience this with Strong Oak and to have community members participate. It felt very powerful as a commission and I hope we continue to do circles and to incorporate this in practice as a commission and to see it incorporated city-wde and incorporated into our criminal justice system as alternatives to detention to current sentencing and to current criminal justice outcomes. It made me change the way I think and want to do it more.”
“I think it was a very enlightening process,” said Garcia. “Circle Process is a practice that embraces differences and provides a platform where people can speak freely and heal. We may all have different opinions, but the Circle Process gives you a platform where you can express yourself and also will deepen your understanding of some critical issues that affect Native Americans and the whole controversy between Indigenous Peoples Day and Columbus Day.”
Garcia also echoed McGee’s endorsement of the use of the Circle Process in the criminal justice system.
Pich added her perspective. “I was honored to sit in a circle with Strong Oak. It’s a form of community-building and supports the concepts of the Restorative Justice Circle and the Transformative Circle.”
“One of the most beautiful things about the circle is it brings community members together,” said Hossaini, who noted that the Circle addresses the issues of colonialism and “brings us closer as a community.” She invited Revere residents to watch the circle session that was held at the October meeting and to offer suggestions as to what issues future circles should address.
McGee then spoke of her involvement in the Revere History Project. At her request, the commissioners then voted to establish a subcommittee for the Revere History Project. McGee asked residents who are able to recall the city’s recent history to come forward to present their stories and recollections.
“We want to see the true history of Revere — the good, the bad, and the ugly,” said Hossaini.
The commission then adjourned until its next meeting in December.