Canadian Roots Exchange and KAIROS bring a unique history lesson to Queen’s Park
Toronto, ON – On May 30, A youth-led reconciliation-based activity presented by Canadian Roots Exchange in collaboration with KAIROS Canada was a successful event that saw over 250 people engaged in a unique history lesson at Queen’s Park. The Blanket Exercise is a visual and participatory activity that helps people of all ages learn about Canada’s history from the perspective of Indigenous peoples.
The Event was presented by young Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders from Canadian Roots Exchange and KAIROS. This Mass Blanket Exercise was part of a national initiative marking the one-year anniversary (June 2) of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)’s release of its 94 Calls to Action. This Mass Blanket Exercise was one of nine similar events that took place in capitals across the country, including Victoria, Whitehorse, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Charlottetown and St. John’s. This work serves to highlight the importance that all students learn about Indian Residential Schools, Treaties and the contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.
Canadian Roots Exchange would like to thank our respected Elder Pauline Shirt, for her amazing, heartfelt words and the Young Ogichidaa Drummers for providing us with a remarkable opening and closing. We also want to thank Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, David Zimmer and Secretary of the Cabinet, Steve Orsini, for speaking at the event. A special thanks goes to all those on the Planning Committee, as well as the Volunteers who helped out. This event would not have been possible without your hard work and dedication. It was a pleasure to have everyone come together and take part in the Mass Blanket Exercise to learn about the history of Canada’s Indigenous peoples, and move towards reconciliation.
About the Blanket Exercise:
In 1996, the Aboriginal Rights Coalition (which became part of KAIROS) worked with Indigenous Elders and teachers to develop an interactive way to learn the history most Canadians are never taught. KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives and its partners have since offered the Blanket Exercise thousands of times, presenting Canada’s history from the perspective of Indigenous peoples.
The exercise uses blankets to represent the lands of what is now called Canada, and the distinct cultures and nations which live on those lands to this day. Participants represent the First Peoples. When they move onto the blankets, they are taken back in time to before the arrival of the Europeans. The Narrators and Europeans work with the participants to read a script while the exercise goes through the history of treaty-making, colonization, resilience and resistance that resulted in the country we today call Canada.