In the Blanket Exercise

The “Blanket Exercise”: A step forward to reconciliation

Monday, June 22 6–9 p.m. at Native Sons Hall

  • Jun. 11, 2015 5:00 a.m.

 

by Carol Sheehan

Harley and Sue Eagle, a husband and wife team who have worked together for the last 18 years to address issues that face Indigenous Peoples, are facilitating The Blanket Exercise on Monday, June 22 from 6–9 PM in the Lodge Room of the Lower Native Sons Hall, 360 Cliffe Avenue, Courtenay. Refreshments will be served at 5 PM. The public is invited to attend this free event.

The Eagles long careers have been centered around advocacy, social justice issues, and restorative and transformative justice. They have worked tirelessly toward inter-cultural relationship-building between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. The Eagles have focused on education as a means to establishing and maintaining mutually respectful, authentic relationships through awareness of the past. They believe education about issues impacting historical interactions between Indigenous Peoples and those of the dominant culture serves as a catalyst for changing behaviours that have become generational.

“Education is the first step, acknowledged Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It is the response he gives to all people who have asked, “How can I help—what can I do? Using a simple symbolic gesture of stepping onto a blanket, Harley and Sue Eagle’s interactive workshop engages the heart and the mind as it begins an educational exercise to transform attitudes that have become generationally embedded.

In the Blanket Exercise, participants step onto blankets that represent what many First Nations peoples called “Turtle Island”—North America—and take on the roles of First Peoples and Euro-American colonizers. They experience a deeper understanding of the history of colonization of the lands now called Canada and the impact of that history on the descendants of its original caretakers.

“It is a history that pre-dates the Residential Schools by centuries— earlier even than the 1823 Doctrine of Discovery by John Marshall that invalidated Aboriginal possession of land,” said Sue Eagle. In the Blanket Exercise, people learn about the bigger picture, a constellation of oppressive factors that are systemic. These factors contribute to major issues such as the 1200 missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada.

“The Blanket Exercise was a prominent feature of the events in Ottawa surrounding the release of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It is an educational exercise that brings awareness of how oppressive practices that were generated through colonization policies of the past and have permeated our present realities.

Harley Eagle added, “The Blanket Exercise does this through providing context, providing an opportunity for participants to explore and express their own discomforts. It helps people learn how to hear and to be courageous in a safe, respectful environment as they share from the heart.”

The just released TRC Final Report, entitled Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future, had a message for every person in this country. The Report defines the idea of reconciliation: Its about coming to terms with events of the past in a manner that overcomes conflict and establishes a respectful and healthy relationship among people, going forward.

Hartley Eagle, commented that, Like the Commission, we seek through The Blanket Exercise to hear from as many people as possible. In this facilitated exercise, everyone has input. That helps answer questions about why colonial powers and processes happened and contextualizes the impact. We can discover, together, the patterns of colonization that have happened on this continent and others by examining the names, faces and dates associated with a conflict situation that is generations old. Understanding the conflict reveals strategies for resolving the conflict. In an hour and a half, history takes on a different perspective. Its as not hopeless as it may sound—its really the way forward.”

Harley Eagle noted that a common comment from participants is, This is not the history we learned in school. Another participant in Saskatchewan said, “We need to list</span

Just Posted

Surrendered Comox Valley cats nearing adoption through SPCA

Thanks to the support from staff, volunteers and the community, more than… Continue reading

D’Esterre Gardens tenant wins right to stay after receiving eviction notice for being too young

Zoe Nagler had been living in the housing complex for six years prior to receiving the eviction notice in January

Courtenay Little Theatre’s production of Hedda Gabler opens April 5

Catherine Hannon Special to The Record As the director of Courtenay Little… Continue reading

Comox overdose awareness display blessed by the Pope

Judith Conway created the display in honour of her son and others who have died of overdoses

Six orcas seen off Point Holmes Saturday

A pod of orcas treated many onlookers to a show Saturday evening.… Continue reading

VIDEO: The ‘most cosmopolitan’ of butterflies could migrate to B.C.

The painted lady butterfly will likely arrive this summer from Southern California

Inspirational Vancouver Island youngster dies after battle with brain cancer

Kaiden Finley ‘was seriously the strongest 11-year-old’

Is it a homicide? B.C. woman dies in hospital, seven months after being shot

Stepfather think Chilliwack case should now be a homicide, but IHIT has not confirmed anything

Indecent caller handed 18-month conditional sentence

Vancouver Island man pleaded guilty to making indecent phone and video calls to women across B.C.

Sources say Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould’s conservative pick for high court

Wilson-Raybould said Monday “there was no conflict between the PM and myself”

First Nations public art piece stolen in Nanaimo

Spindle Whorl went missing over the weekend, according to Nanaimo RCMP

Father-son duo at B.C. Children’s Hospital helps new dads fight depression

The pair teamed up to introduce the only known research-based mindfulness workshop for new dads

Mexican restaurant in B.C. told to take down Mexican flag

General manager of Primo’s Mexican Grill in White Rock: ‘I’ve never heard of anything like this’

B.C. NDP moves to provide tax credits, tax cut for LNG Canada

Provincial sales tax break of $596 million repayable after construction

Most Read