Participants in an indigenous rights blanket exercise like one that will be held at the Church of the Ascension in French Creek this Saturday

Event Saturday in French Creek aims to educate people about aborignal history

You can take part in a unique exercise to understand indigenous rights

Kairos is hosting a unique indigenous rights blanket exercise in French Creek this Saturday, Sept. 24 to help people understand Canadian history.

“It’s a teaching tool to share the historic and contemporary relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous people in Canada,” said member Kathy Miller.

“We’re teaching people the history of our relationship so people understand where the First Nations are coming from. We feel that’s really important to get across to people.”

“A lot of people just don’t understand, you hear things like ‘they got their reserves, what else do they want?'”

She said the exercise grew out of the truth and reconciliation process and a recommendation for more education.

It was developed 15 years ago by the Aboriginal Rights Coalition with indigenous elders and teachers, has been offered thousands of times and was last completely updated in 2013.

According to the website “the exercise goes through the history of treaty-making, colonization and resistance that resulted in the nation we today call Canada.”

It also suggests that the process “often raises deep emotions and we strongly encourage you to work with your head, heart and spirit whenever doing the blanket exercise.”

Miller explained that they use the fine- tuned B.C. version of the script and a bunch of blankets spread out on the floor representing reservations.

People are arranged in groups representing Europeans or natives and moved around on the blankets as they work through the script, demonstrating history.

“Everybody participates, then at the end we sit down and say, so how did it make you feel and talk about suggestions on what we can do to improve it,” she said.

She said they have been in contact with Qualicum First Nation Chief Michael Recalma and local First Nation educators, but she’s not certain who will attend.

Hosted by Kairos — which Miller called “an ecumenical group of churches getting together to deal with issues of social justice,” — the exercise is free and will include refreshments, running 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 24 at the Church of the Ascension, 887 Wembley Road, French Creek.

For more visit kairosblanketexercise.org.

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