Earlier this month, 33 participants were given an opportunity to imagine what the experience of colonization might have been like for the First Peoples of this land through a process known as the Blanket Exercise.
The Blanket Exercise is an interactive workshop that explores the historic relationship between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people in Canada in a manner that engages both the heart and the mind. Participants stepped onto blankets that represent Turtle Island, or North America, taking on the roles of First Peoples. The history of interactions between the First Peoples and the newcomers is revealed over the course of the exercise beginning with first contact and ending with present day. Participants experience a deeper understanding of what colonization is and of some of the long-term consequences.
Mary Everson, an indigenous elder of the K’omoks Nation, began the event by welcoming people to their traditional territory, and was present as well to witness and share stories of her own lived experiences of colonization. Meredith Martin and Sue Eagle facilitated the exercise. Martin was the main narrator, while Eagle played the role of the European.
Eagle has facilitated the Blanket Exercise in both Canada and the United States, and has adapted the materials to reflect the reality of this history in British Columbia.
If you are interested in having facilitators come to lead the Blanket Exercise in your community or high school, contact Meredith Martin at Meredith.Martin@gov.bc.ca