by Stephen Dafoe
Alberta Culture Days are on this weekend, offering a variety of events throughout the weekend.
One of the events scheduled for Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. is the KAIROS Blanket Exercise, an interactive learning experience that teaches Indigenous rights history organizers say is rarely taught. The exercise was developed in response to the 1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. That report recommended some key steps, including offering education on Canadian-Indigenous history.
The Blanket Exercise covers more than 500 years of that history in 90-minutes through an interactive, participatory presentation and follow-up sharing circle.
Kerri Trombley, the vice principal of Morinville Public School, is one of the facilitators and offered the session a few months back for the community.
“The Blanket Exercise is an interactive activity that puts participants in the role of the first people of Canada,” Trombley said. “Participants read scrolls and carry cards to determine their outcomes of their own lives. Our blanket exercise is always followed by a sharing circle. In that circle, we always ask participants to reflect upon their experience, what they learned and how they felt about the experience and the activity.”
Trombley said the most common reaction is sadness and guilt.
“People feel guilty that they didn’t know. This is an actual true replication of Canadian history, and people are upset that they were never taught this in school, and that they didn’t have an understanding.”
Trombley said she believes the biggest reason for the blanket exercise and why it is so powerful is the chance at reconciliation.