Lynne Winfield, CURB President

Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda (CURB) executive Lynne Winfield and Hashim Estwick have been invited to present at the 2018 World Conference ‘Strengthening the Spirit of Community’, following the successful presentation by Cordell Riley and Ms Winfield at the Canada Conference in April.

The World Conference being held in Detroit, Michigan from October 24 to 26, will find out how Bermuda is using Restorative Practices to address historical and contemporary harm from past oppression and abuse.

The international event under the auspices of the International Institute of Restorative Practices is being hosted by Black Family Development, Inc, and will be attracting attendees from across North America, South America, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean.

According the statement released by CURB today, participants “will hear how Bermuda is addressing its legacy issues arising out of a history of 218 years of slavery, 137 years of segregation, and the post-segregation and discrimination that followed.

Ms Winfield, CURB’s President will address the topic ‘Healing a People: How Restorative Practices can help repair the harm of an island’s dark past’. 

“The presentation would cover the need for healing and reparation in an island whose dark history of slavery, segregation and colonial oppression and its resultant legacy issues continue to affect the majority Black population today.”

The presentation includes “why restorative practices methodology was chosen, and how it is helping those who attend to confront and repair this harm to create a more equitable, healthy and socially stable society moving forward”.

Ms Winfield said: “The aim of the truth and reconciliation process is to create a narrative and behavioural  change, build community and relationships, and educate about past historical injustices and how they inform present-day life in Bermuda, leading to participants jointly finding ways for the nation to repair historical harms and its ongoing legacies.

“There are moments when hurt, pain and anger are revealed and we ask people to understand the deep trauma that underlies these feelings,” she added.

“What makes the conversations extraordinary is that they are held in a highly unusual environment where descendants of both slaveowners and enslaved peoples are still living in close contact, sharing the same name and often living within short distances of each other. Each share distinct perceptions and experiences that create their own worldviews.”

She noted that the TRCC works “to allow people to catch a glimpse of another’s worldview, which creates empathy, trust and builds relationships through storytelling”.

“It is then that people begin to understand what needs to occur to create a more equitable and fair society,” she said.

“The Bermuda TRCC process is built on restorative justice principles and methodology and all facilitators are trained in restorative practices through the IIRP. So effective is the methodology that the majority of TRCC participants who begin the sessions stay in the room and complete the full seven-week process, making the commitment to turn up weekly and form the relationships and real conversations around difficult subjects.”

The statement continues: “TRCC participants begin by exploring the language around race, which provide a common language for recognizing and working with discomfort. The time spent on discussing how we will work together through consciously developing norms that encourage dialogue, careful listening and shared risk-taking serve the group well as we move into more difficult subjects and open the group up to new ideas and understandings.

“As the group sessions move forward we approach subjects as diverse as privilege, trauma, hidden history, dominant/counter narrative and view short films and participate in exercises to help understand the issues in a deeper way.

“Bermuda’s version of the truth and reconciliation process differs from South Africa’s, and others, in several ways. Bermuda’s truth and reconciliation process has no statutory powers but instead is a community-led process with CURB, a volunteer NGO, initiating and sustaining the project. In South Africa, the aim was to deal with atrocities during apartheid with the perpetrators and victims, or their families, still living.

“In Bermuda while there are no living perpetrators of slavery, there are those living who were witness to and experienced segregation; there are those who are benefactors of past injustices and ongoing discrimination; and there are descendants of those who were oppressed who continue to face the ongoing legacies of intergenerational trauma, poverty, internalized superiority, internalized oppression, implicit bias, privilege, stereotypes, economic intimidation, discrimination, marginalization, prejudice, wealth inequality and economic inequity.”