Above: Morinville Community Library Program Coordinator Stacey Buga watches on as MPS students learn about Indigenous history at the library. The Library will be holding a Blanket Exercise Feb. 4.
by Stephen Dafoe
The Morinville Community Library will be holding the KAIROS Blanket Exercise Feb. 4 from 3:45 p.m. until 6 p.m. at the library.
The program is an interactive learning experience that teaches the history of Indigenous rights.
“The blanket exercise is developed for Truth and Reconciliation,” said Morinville Community Library Program Coordinator Stacey Buga. ” It is a way to teach history that’s not taught in schools or was previously not taught in schools.”
The KAIROS Blanket Exercise was created in response to the 1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People. That report recommended as one of the important steps to reconciliation education on Canadian-Indigenous history. The Banket Exercise lays out more than 500 years of history.
Sharon Morin from St. Albert Heritage Museum along with an elder from Alexander First Nation will facilitate the 90-minute session.
Buga herself has taken the blanket exercise before and found it an informative and insightful experience.
“That was my first step to try and understand what reconciliation is,” she said. “It’s become a bit of a buzz word and I feel the purpose of reconciliation is kind of getting lost in politics. I think this Blanket Exercise – because it is interactive – can really put adults into those shoes. It teaches, in a short period of time, a lot of history that gets lost along the way.”
While the exercise will inform about Indigenous history from pre-colonization through to residential schools, the ’60s scoop and beyond, one of the most important aspects of the event is that it concludes with a sharing circle.
“Talking to each other at the end gives us a connection,” Buga said of her experience in the sharing circle. “We were all there for our own reasons, but we all came out of it with the same bit of understanding. We could share experiences without feeling put out or feeling ostracized.
Buga said Part of the learning circle the Library began in January that emerged from the U of A Faculty of Native Studies MOOC, and lead by local Morinville educators has been positive as well.
“The Learning Circle we’re doing for the Indigenous Canada lesson is the circle at the end. You get to meet each other and know each other. You feel supported no matter why you are there.”
Buga went on to say the format of a learning circle is a fantastic way for people to understand the subject and one another. “It is not a debate. You are not stepping on each other’s toes,” she said. “You are sharing something one at a time and not commenting on other people, You are reflecting on yourself.
The Morinville Community Library is hoping to get 30 or 40 people to the event.
“I feel it is an important thing for people to know, and I hope the public joins us,” Buga said. “It is just another opportunity for people to learn.”
Pre-registration is required. Those interested can do so by calling the library at 780-939-3292 or by visiting the library’s front desk.
Also on at the Library until the end of January is the Walk with Me exhibit, created by Reconciliation Solidarity Edmonton (RISE).