Thursday, August 11, 2016

Blanket Exercise Takes a Road Trip to Estevan

We left Fort Qu'Appelle for the first leg of our road trip to Estevan. After facilitating the Blanket Exercise at the library, we all went out for supper. It was good to laugh and eat, nourishing our bodies and spirits after an extra powerful and exhausting experience; we had participated in the event, unpacking the history of Canada through indigenous eyes, with a humble elder who was also a survivor of Residential School.

Victoria Utman, my oldest daughter, works at the Estevan Public Library. Last February she invited our Blanket Exercise student team from Bert Fox Community High School to facilitate the exercise at the Estevan Public Library and the Estevan Comprehensive High School for Saskatchewan Aboriginal Storytelling Month. Victoria offered tobacco to Kete-aya Alma Poitras, asking her to share teachings about the power of a talking circle and then to lead a circle after the emotional experience of the Blanket Exercise.
The girls and I stayed at our family farm for the evening where Victoria and her husband Tyler live. In the morning we had breakfast together, then went to the Estevan Comp. Elder Alma was not able to be with us at the high school, so Mercedes, Leeza, Eraine and Tomika led the Blanket Exercise as usual, and afterwards, each led a talking circle. Tim Lee and his colleagues at ECS were full of praise for our girls.
When we left Estevan, we couldn't help ourselves, jumping out of the car, here and there, for photo shoots. We laughed and sang most of the way home to Fort Qu'Appelle.
A month or so later, we received a package in the mail from ECS teachers James Jones and Tim Lee. Their students had completed an assignment, reflecting on the Blanket Exercise. We were touched by the thoughtfulness of the responses, understanding in new ways that we were participating in re-education. Excerpts from their reflections will be shared on Treaty Walks question by question on the following dates:
1. What was your general impression or thoughts about the Blanket Exercise? Did you enjoy participating? August 14th, 2016
2. What did you learn from Friday's presentation? August 23rd, 2016
3. What was the most emotional moment for you? Why was it emotional? Consider the speaker's values, perspective, biases and tone. August 29th, 2016
4. The Blanket Exercise is designed to inspire action. How could an event like this inspire people? What could we do? September 2nd, 2016
5. Analyze the overall effectiveness of the presentation. September 9th, 2016
All in all, our road trip to Estevan with the Blanket Exercise was fun and purposeful, and of course, we made great memories along the way.  






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