Blanket exercise a path towards knowledge, reconciliation for participants

The Metro Alliance for the Common Good (MACG) presented the Blanket Exercise on Feb. 3, 2018 at the Grey Eagle Resort.

Around 130 people registered online for the event but a snowstorm that weekend resulted in only 45 showing up.

This was the second time in Calgary that the Blanket Exercise has happened and it was done for the Interfaith Harmony Week.

“The Blanket exercise is a very experiential undertaking,” Janyce Konkin, one of the co-ordinators, said.

The Blanket Exercise was originally started by KAIROS, an ecological justice and human rights group, as “a teaching tool to share the historic and contemporary relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.”

“You walk people through what happened,” Konkin said.

After the exercise, knowledge keeper Marilyn Shingoose, a retired minister and Indigenous elder, did a talking circle.

This was developed due to the 1996 report of the Royal Aboriginal Peoples as they viewed education as important on the steps to reconciliation.

“It takes asking and being willing to be a little bit uncomfortable, to learn,” Debra Faulk, a member of MACG, said.

The Blanket Exercise covers more than 500 years of history in a 90-minute participatory workshop.

There’s a huge desire for people to learn this. – Janyce Konkin

Participants take on the role of Indigenous peoples in Canada as they stand on blankets that represent the land.

“As the history is told, the blanket is folded,” Faulk said.

As the exercise goes on it goes from everyone attending to only a few left, showing the impact the colonizers coming to Canada had on Indigenous people.

“There’s a huge desire for people to learn this,” Konkin said.

About Thomas Komarniski 3 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Thomas Komarniski worked as a reporter for The Press during the 2017-18 academic year.