On Sunday, March 31, 2018, I had the privilege of participating in a ‘Blanket Exercise‘ along with twenty-five of my ManKind Project Brothers. The exercise was held in the Healing Lodge of Pê Sâkâstêw Centre. (A Corrections Service of Canada Centre).
During the Blanket Exercise, participants walk on blankets representing the land and into the role of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples by reading scrolls and carrying cards which ultimately determine their outcome as they literally ‘walk’ through situations that include pre-contact, treaty-making, colonization and resistance. Participants are guided through the experience by trained facilitators (who read the script and assume the roles of European explorers and settlers) and Indigenous Elders or knowledge keepers. The Exercise concludes with a debriefing, conducted as a `talking circle’, during which participants discuss the learning experience, process their feelings, ask questions, share insights and deepen their understanding.
For me personally, it was a heart-opening, heart-wrenching experience standing next to indigenous men on the blankets. Whose entire family and multiple generations have lived through this horror that we were talking about during the exercise intensified my own personal emotions of anger of, “How could this happen?” or, “How could we do this to another human being?