The Blanket Exercise - A Communal Contemplative experience
What it is and Why it is Important
The Blanket Exercise was developed in response to the Report that emerged from the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. One of the key recommendations from the report was to initiate education concerning the true history of Canada involving the indigenous people and those who settled on their land.
This is not a subject many of us are comfortable with – especially if we are white Anglo Saxon protestant or catholic Canadians of a certain age. As our current prime minister has acknowledged, the history books that were handed out in school throughout the 19th century glossed over the fate of the native peoples of Canada, focusing, as history always does, on the story of the conquerors. Victors are the ones who write the history books, and those who settled Canada, told the story of the early years of our country from their viewpoint – stories of explorers, fur traders, soldiers, farmers, settlers. Our history books did not tell of conquering other people, and if they did, it was presented as a collaborative act, which it was not. We do not like to think of ourselves as having thieved the land of others. We do not like to think of ourselves as oppressors. These are difficult matters to address.
And yet for the sake of our own dignity, for the sake of humanity, for the sake of our children and grandchildren, we must, we must, we must take a hard look at the reality of the early history of Canada from a new perspective. For young people, this knowledge is imperative if they are to lead us forward into a paradigm that sees all people as part of an interconnected family. Because something is difficult, does not excuse us from turning away. In fact, when we gather our courage and face things that challenge us, extraordinary gifts may be given – of understanding and wisdom.
Humanity is either teetering on the brink of annulation, or an extraordinary breakthrough in its understanding of itself. There are some who feel that it is too late, that we will not be able to master the competitive, combative nature that has allowed us to dominate the food chain, and the natural world. But there are others, many others, who hold to the hope that deep within each human is a wisdom that desires the embrace of all people, that knows the new way forward to be one of mutuality, communion, and compassion, and that in fact, a new consciousness of who we are as humans, will be the next evolutionary shift for humanity, without which, we will not survive as a species.
For those of the Christian persuasion, who have just recently come through the dark season of Lent to the uplifting joy of Easter, they will know that as an Easter people, there is always hope in the yet unseen, the yet imagined. They will know that though there is error, violence, tragedy, and seemingly unforgivable acts of treachery, so too, there is redemption, forgiveness, and a kind of justice that lifts both oppressor and oppressed into a new status of relationship that acknowledges past wrong doings at the same time it offers new horizons of mutual respect, resorted dignity, and new adventure.
But these thoughts are by no means the sole proprietorship of Christians. All people of all faiths and inclinations to goodness, all those who desire to work towards the betterment of humanity, will see the possibilities in this gathering.
So it is, that in the season of Eastertide, Trinity United Church, along with Kairos Canada, is delighted to invite people to this unique opportunity to understand the history of Canada through new eyes.
Come and be illuminated. Come and participate in a unique historical event. Come and be part of a new rise in consciousness, throughout Canada, and throughout the world, that understands we can change and do things differently.
The world is waiting for you to step forward in faith.
Rev. Candice Bist
Morning Service and Afternoon Blanket Exercise at Trinity United Church on May 7th
Deep gratitude to Dr. Daisy Radigan, our facilitator, Dale Cimolai, our Knowledge Teacher, Doug Thahoketoteh, who shared Indigenous spiritual practices in our morning service, and to Robin and Marie McLeod, teachers of the medicine wheel who were our special guests. And to all those who attended. It was a deeply moving experience for all who participated. And, I think, important work for all of us to do if we are to move forward together in unity with the First Nations.
Kitchi Kairos Blanket Exercise Coming to Parliment Hill This Summer
WHERE: PARLIAMENT HILL, UNCEDED ALGONQUIN TERRITORY
WHEN: JUNE 2, 2017
3:30 pm Cultural programming
5:00 pm – 7:30 pm Kitchi Blanket Exercise
The KAIROS Blanket Exercise is a visual and experiential way to represent colonization in Canada and its impact on Indigenous peoples. Kitchi means “really big” in Anishinaabemowin, the language of the unceded Algonquin territory where our settler capital is located. This really big Blanket Exercise is a coming together of hearts and minds in a collective commitment to build reconciliation based on justice for Indigenous peoples.