Dear Shambhala Sangha,
The Interim Board has received the investigative report from Wickwire Holm, a Halifax law firm, and we are releasing it to the sangha. We would like to explain what is contained in the Wickwire Holm Claims Investigation, the perspective of the Interim Board (IB) and how we plan to go forward and support the community.
The Kalapa Council engaged Wickwire Holm in July 2018 to conduct a third-party investigation of claims of sexual misconduct within the Shambhala community (described in the July 20 Community Letter). In November of last year the Interim Board took over management of the engagement of Wickwire Holm from Shambhala’s legal counsel, Alex Halpern, and worked directly with an investigative attorney with the firm, Selina Bath. Ms. Bath was the investigator and writer of the reports. IB members met with her a number of times to understand the scope and progress of her work and her timeframes. At all times, the IB did not attempt to influence her investigation or her findings, and she was steadfast in her adherence to that independence. The Claims Investigation is the product of that work and represents her independent findings.
One of the most important principles we expressed to Ms. Bath was that all Claimants’ and Witnesses’ identities would be kept confidential. However, for an individual’s report to become a claim, the individual had to be willing to identify themselves to Wickwire Holm and to have Wickwire Holm identify them to the respondent. Otherwise, there would be no way for Wickwire Holm to investigate and to interview the respondent and any witnesses to the claim.
More people were willing to share their experiences of harm with Ms. Bath than were willing to have them investigated. She respected those individuals’ wishes to remain anonymous and did not include them in the formal investigation. This information is described in the General Introduction and Summary.
We appreciate each individual who came forward to aid in this investigation as a reporter, claimant or witness.
We are releasing the results of the investigation received from Wickwire Holm to the Community in a single package, which includes:
- General Introduction and Summary
- Three completed Claims Investigations, two of which concern Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
Please click here to access these documents.
As a Board, we hope that we all can rest with kindness toward ourselves and compassion toward others as we absorb the material in these reports and share our thoughts and feelings with each other. We are committed to the work of restoring trust within our community but recognize that it will be a long journey.
There is much work to be done. We will work closely with the Shambhala Process Team to create dialogue and structure around community listening and healing. To help begin this work, the IB requested a small group of Process Team members to give suggestions for community gatherings that we have distributed to Shambhala leaders. We will also work with the Shambhala Process Team to create Shambhala frameworks that define the ethical conduct to which Shambhala office holders and teachers must adhere. It is our aspiration to let go of unhealthy and unequitable power dynamics that have persisted in our sangha.
As students of Shambhala, we feel strongly that Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche should work to find a path forward to carry his acknowledgement of these past actions in a way that reflects the honesty and bravery that are the hallmarks of the Shambhala teachings. It is our strong wish that he express true sympathy and speaks from his heart on how he will proceed.
In the midst of releasing these reports, we are continuing to plan for Shambhala Day and to fundraise for the continuity of the Shambhala organization. We do this not in the spirit of business as usual, but in the spirit of the natural unfolding of a new year and the recognition that these teachings have power and meaning for many of us. Together, we have something very worthwhile to continue – even if we do not yet know how this will evolve.
We continue to welcome your emails. It is good to have your input and questions, and we endeavor to read and respond to everyone. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the Interim Board website at board.shambhala.org.
The Interim Board