Each year the Oak Institute hosts a series of events highlighting human rights in relation to the particular theme of the fellowship. The 2019 theme is water and human rights.

Oak Spring 2021 Events Calendar

February 25

“Wabanaki Homelands and Colonial Borders” – Workshop by the Bomazeen Land Trust

Thrusday, February 25 / 7:00 pm / Virtual (Registration required) 

The Bomazeen Land Trust enables direct descendants of the Abenaki and Wabanaki peoples to renew and resume caretaking roles for their lands and waters through rematriation. Their primary purpose is the repossession, perpetual protection, and healing of ancestral Wabanaki spaces with historical, spiritual, ecological, and cultural significance to our nations, primarily in the Kennebec and Androscoggin river watersheds.

Join us for an educational workshop on Abenaki and Wabanaki history, current affairs and projects, and sustainable living and agricultural practices, led by two members of the Bomazeen Land Trust, Mali-Agat Obomsawin and Lokotah Sanborn.



April 14

Screening and Q+A: Voices From the Barrens: Native Peoples, Blueberries and Sovereignty

Wednesday, April 14 / 6:00 pm / Ostrove and Virtual (Registration Link

This documentary by Nancy Ghertner captures the wild blueberry harvest of the Wabanaki People from the USA and Canada as the tribes are challenged to balance blueberry hand raking traditions with the economic realities of the world market.

Each August, First People of the Canadian Wabanaki, the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet tribes cross the US/Canada border into Maine to take part in the tradition of hand raking blueberries with their Passamaquoddy brothers and sisters. This crossing to Maine blueberry barrens isn’t considered “agricultural labor” but is part of the traditional harvest from the earth.

The screening will be followed by a live Q+A with Nancy Ghertner and Donald Soctomah, Passamaquoddy Tribal Historic Officer.


Cont. Spring 2021

Exhibit: Scenes of the US/Mexico Border by Guillermo Arias

Diamond Atrium, Miller Library, Pugh Center

Guillermo Arias is a Mexican photojournalist based on Tijuana, México. He is currently working as an independent photojournalist and is a regular contributor for the Agence France Presse (AFP). He has collaborated with publications and organizations such as Politico, CNN, NPR, and the ACLU.

This exhibit is a collection of photos from the U.S. Mexico border areas. It captures the long, grueling journey of Migrant Caravan asylum seekers, who travel for more than a month from Central America through Mexico to the U.S. border. The concept of the Migrant Caravan became notorious after President Trump’s unfounded allegations against it.

This exhibit also features a close up look at the U.S. Mexico border fence. Since the first section was built, the fence has offered a constantly changing identity. It intervenes in the landscape and impacts the communities it passes through. Ultimately, it is altered by the different actors that converge on it.

With President Donald Trump’s ongoing plan to build an “impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall” between the US and Mexico, documenting the state of the fence is pertinent.

The exhibit will be displayed in the Diamond Atrium, the Miller Library lobby, and the Pugh Center.

Cosponsored by the Center for the Arts and Humanities, the Pugh Center, Miller Library, and the Oak Institute for Human Rights


Cont. Spring 2021

Suspended Step: Europe’s Refugee Crisis Illustrated – Greek Cartoonists Association

Foss Dining Hall

31 Greek cartoonists use the power of sketching as a common global language in an attempt to translate the pain, anger, bitterness, hypocrisy, and guilt of the contemporary situation into critical images and also to pay tribute to the solidarity and humanity of ordinary people.

While a lot has been said and written since 2015/2016 when the summer of migration and the movement of refugees managed to break Europe’s fortified borders, many voices have also been silenced. Rising above the suppression, this exhibition has a distinctive way of explaining a different side of the refugee issue in Europe.




Cont. Spring 2021

Hostile Terrain 94 – US/Mexico Border Migration Exhibit

Bill and Joan Alfond Commons 


The Oak Institute, in partnership with the Office for Civic Engagement, is bringing Hostile Terrain 94 (HT94), which is a participatory art project organized by the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP), a non-profit research-art-education-media collective, directed by anthropologist Jason De León.

The exhibition is composed of ~3,200 handwritten toe tags that represent migrants who have died trying to cross the Sonoran Desert of Arizona between the mid-1990s and 2019. These tags are geolocated on a wall map of the desert showing the exact locations where remains were found. This installation will simultaneously take place at a large number of institutions, both nationally and globally in 2020.

As a professor, CA, club leader, or voting captain, you can fill out our form to request toe tags for your team of students/residents/club members to fill out.

The exhibit will be installed in the lobby of the Bill and Joan Alfond Commons in October. This exhibit is an incredibly powerful way for students and others in the Colby community to engage with the concept of Borders and Human Rights. If you are interested in volunteering with the installation, please contact us.

Cosponsored by Office of Civic Engagement and the Oak Institute for Human Rights





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