On Canada Day, I spent the afternoon in the park with our local Aboriginal association conducting a Blanket Exercise.
In a Blanket Exercise, participants take on the roles of Indigenous peoples in North America. Standing on blankets that represent the land, they walk through five hundred years of history. It can be a devastating hour as participants are hit with small pox, scalping laws, starvation, relocation, residential schools and more. At the end, what was once a full land covered in people has become a fragmented space that is sparsely populated. In the talking circle afterwards, tears are not uncommon. What is also not uncommon is requests for a plan. “Just tell me what to do.”
Ryan McMahon has also identified this as a missing component of the Blanket Exercise. “The Blanket Exercise is a good teaching tool however it leaves participants in a state of shock & the ending seems incomplete to me” (2017, May 31). “When will Kairos add a 2nd step to the exercise, replacing blankets while focusing on rebuilding & righting the wrongs identified in step 1?” (2017, May 31).
I’m not sure what replacing the blankets would look like and I’m probably not the right person to imagine that anyway. However, I think giving participants a plan to begin to right the wrongs identified in the Blanket Exercise is a great idea.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) has provided Canadians with 94 Calls to Action to work towards reconciliation. The problem, I find, with these Calls to Action is that they are aimed and worded at government institutions. Not one of the Calls to Action explicitly says “Individual Canadians are called to…”. As it stands, most of the 94 Calls to Action begin with: “We call on federal, provincial and territorial governments…” As I, myself, am none of those governments, it is easy for me as an individual Canadian to feel like I personally am not being called to act. However, without much tweaking, these Calls to Action can address us as individuals as well. I propose that we hand out 10 Calls to Action for Individual Canadians at the end of a Blanket Exercise or as otherwise needed. I have also created a similar plan for addressing the TRC’s Calls to Action explicitly for teachers in the classroom.
McMahon, Ryan (@RMComedy). “When will Kairos add a 2nd step to the exercise, replacing blankets while focusing on rebuilding & righting the wrongs identified in step 1?” 31 May 2017, 7:33 am. Tweet. Retrieved from: https://twitter.com/RMComedy/status/869894649070194689
McMahon, Ryan (@RMComedy). “The Blanket Exercise is a good teaching tool however it leaves participants in a state of shock & the ending seems incomplete to me.” 31 May 2017, 7:36 am. Tweet. Retrieved from: https://twitter.com/RMComedy/status/869895356594753536
Truth and Reconciliation Canada. (2015). Calls to Action. Winnipeg: Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Retrieved from: http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/File/2015/Findings/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf