I heard mention of this so-called ‘blanket exercise’ early in my educational journey here at the U of R. It got my brain rolling, as I had zero clue as to what it entailed. I imagined many of things, none of which were anything close to what it actually is. Do we make blankets? Do we play with parachutes?
The answer is, NO.
My first experience of the blanket exercise was in Twyla’s class. I had no idea that we were doing it as she made no mention of it prior to that class. We were just simply thrown into it unknowingly. I was not bothered by this spontaneous act (surprisingly ~ as I typically hate change and spontaneity!) as I was naive to the power and emotion that this exercise provoked. Boy, were my eyes widened!
A teaching tool to share the historic and contemporary relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.
My first experience was an emotional rollercoaster. I thought that my education had prepared me for this moment. I assumed that I knew Canada’s history and understood the whole Settler/First Nations relationship. But, you know what they say about assuming…
The realization and the visual aspect that the Blanket Exercise gives you hit me like a tonne of bricks. I was so naive. In actuality, I had no clue what people went through nor did I or will I ever be able to feel/understand the pain that they endured. I never had my child ripped away from me. I never had my home/land folded back underneath me until there was nothing left to sustain. I never felt so displaced to the point in which I didn’t know which way ‘home’ was.
I grew up WITH my family, in their care, under their roof, under their guidance.
I felt, firsthand, my family’s love. Felt their warm embrace.
I remember my education. I have blissful memories of my elementary teachers’. They hold a positive and loving memory in my heart.
I had the opportunity to eat sanitary and nutritious food in the comfort of my warm/loving home.
I was blessed to sleep in my own warm and cozy bed knowing that my family was there as my guardian.
I was neither beaten nor abused.
And the list…it goes on and on.
As you can tell by my narrative… I am a white settler of Canada.
My narrative doesn’t even begin to compare to those people(s) Indigenous to this land. Should I feel guilty for the discontinuity between our narratives? Should I feel angry? Should I feel blessed? What am I supposed to feel?
These are the problems that I am facing right now. This is where I am at. I have come to this realization and yet I am uncertain on how to navigate it.
no longer naive.