For Aboriginal Storytelling month last February, four students from Bert Fox Community High School were invited to the Estevan Comprehensive School to present the Blanket Exercise which tells the history of Canada through the voices of indigenous peoples. The blankets represent the land and participants play the role of sovereign indigenous peoples. The facilitators play the role of Europeans who first come to the land as friends, but as the power begins to shift, and Treaties are broken, assimilation and colonization become a reality. http://kairosblanketexercise.org/about
Leeza, Eraine, Mercedes and Tomika
BFCHS students lead Blanket Exercise at ECS
"Events like this inspire people because as the girl said, 'it's our shared history.'"
Tim Lee and James Jones, teachers at the Estevan Comp, assigned reflection questions. This is the fourth of five questions asked.
The Blanket Exercise is designed to inspire action. How could an event like this inspire people? What could we do?
- An event like this inspires people by teaching them about what has happened in the past. We could now continue to pass down the information we learned.
- By folding the blankets we see what is the lives of indigenous peoples. An event like this inspires people because then they visualize what had happened to the Aboriginals and that what they went through is still a reality to most. We could stop saying they should get over it because that's like saying to the families who died in concentration camps to get over what happened and move on.
- It could inspire people to become more informed about the issues of First Nations people and to take more or any action about it. WE could do any number of things; educate more people, raise money, raise awareness, demand more from our government for their rights. However, I believe the most important thing would be to be more compassionate, understanding and be less judgmental and prejudice.
- It could inspire people because people could look at them and wonder why they're so happy now. Well, the girl leading my group says that she didn't have a choice but to be happy because as she grew up she had her family with her and her family really helped through the rough patch of her life. It already does inspire people because it shows that something needs to be done and everyone needs to be treated fairly. We owe something to the First Nations for what they have been through.
- It exposes the terrible fat on what the Europeans did. It kind of leaves you feeling like, wow, that kind of sucks that we just invaded them. But at the same time, what's done is done. I know nothing of a solution to how to resolve it.
- We could do the Blanket Exercise with other classes or even kids in elementary school. I know that if I would have been able to do this visual and interactive exercise when I first learned about First Nations history, it would have helped me to truly understand what happened. This could inspire people to stop being ignorant about Aboriginal culture possibly.
- The event itself is very inspirational, not in a sense of that you can do anything, but in the sense that it might push people to change their opinion and attitude towards things. If you were completely ignorant to the bad things that happened, then this exercise could change your viewpoint on natives. We in turn could spread awareness to stop racism and just help people understand what has happened in our history.
- It's designed to teach in a way we understand. Events like this inspire people because as the girl said, it's our shared history. We don't have to do anything big, a simple conversation on the topic would be enough.
- The Blanket Exercise could inspire people through a physical learning environment, getting people involved almost cements the ideas taught into someone's mind. To inspire people we could promote more people to do similar exercises at our school every year.
- An event like this could inspire people to take this to younger schools and introduce it to the younger generation.
- An event like this could inspire people by showing them what actually happened and how hard things were. Now that people know what happened, they can help others understand and then stereotypes might stop.
- It could inspire people to quit being racist and quit thinking that they are better than everyone. We could make sure everyone is treated equally and no one gets bullied or treated badly.
- It could inspire people to look into their heritage and see if they are Aboriginal, if they don't already know. It could inspire people to get involved in groups that support the Aboriginal people and take action. We could continue to have this presentation in schools and maybe provide it for adults to experience too, so that everyone understands what the people went through.
- An event like this can inspire people because it is showing them what actually happened so that they know what they are supporting.
- They could realize that sometimes just raising money doesn't fix all of the problems. People need to see a presentation like this from young people.
- When we learn about Aboriginal history it's usually just brushed over. This Blanket Exercise inspires us because we see that we were a part of their fate. We can help change this by personally stopping racism against Aboriginal peoples. Racism causes many people to doubt their worth. We can be friends with people that are experiencing criticism from peers. It could encourage people to go to support groups and find out if they have an Aboriginal heritage.
- It inspires people by putting people in their shoes. It's much easier to fight for a cause if you know how it felt. There is no substitute for what they went through but since we now have a better understanding of the full effects of it, we can tell people about it and spread the word so they can get back the land they deserve.
- The Blanket Exercise inspires people because the presentation involves everyone. When you're involved you are learning and aware of what's going on. Since we weren't there at the time that this occurred in real life, the Blanket Exercise has the same impact, bringing awareness.
- The Blanket Exercise could inspire people by showing them how it felt to be Native back when the Europeans came to North America. This would inspire them to help out Natives instead of keeping them segregated from our society. I honestly can't think of anything we could do besides treating them well and like normal people.
- It could inspire people to want to change the world and the relationship between First Nations and the people who stole their land.
Note. Excerpts from the ECS reflections on the Blanket Exercise can be found 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