For Aboriginal Storytelling month last February, four students from Bert Fox Community High School were invited to the Estevan Comprehensive School to present the Blanket Exercise which tells the history of Canada through the voices of indigenous peoples. The blankets represent the land and participants play the role of sovereign indigenous peoples. The facilitators play the role of Europeans who first come to the land as friends, but as the power begins to shift, and Treaties are broken, assimilation and colonization become a reality. http://kairosblanketexercise.org/about
Tim Lee and James Jones, teachers at the Estevan Comp, assigned reflection questions. This is the third of five questions asked.
- The most emotional moment for me would be when they took away Nate's baby. It was emotional because of what it would be like to actually have a child and then it gets ripped away and you never see them.
- The most emotional moment for me was when the aboriginal kids who were forced to attend residential schools came home to their families, but the kids were shamed and ignored. I got emotional because I don't like being left out. The speaker had a sharp tone when telling the tribes to shame the kids.
- When they instantly killed people who had the white cards. It was emotional because I had the white card.
- The most emotional moment was when the blanket got smaller and smaller, symbolizing their land. Another very emotional part was when people started dying from disease or residential schooling. It was emotional because it felt real and kind of made all of it a reality instead of a story that was "back then".
- The most emotional was when the readers called out the people with yellow and blue cards. The people with the cards died and did not come back.
- The most emotional moment for me was when I was given a yellow card and then sent away to residential school. Upon returning to my blanket with the others they were told to turn their backs on me which really stung.
- The most emotional moment for me was when we were in the talking circles and I saw how little some people cared. They were disrespectful to the speaker. It made me angry how some people have no respect for another's heritage or traditions.
- The most emotional part, though I am emotionless, would have to be when they pried poor Carlos from Nate. Poor guy was devastated. I mean the way they put it when talking about the Residential Schools makes you kind of realize how bad it really must have felt to have your children yanked from you with no chance of return.
- The most emotional moment for me was definitely when the young girl in our group from Fort Qu'Appelle explained to us that 2 or 3 generations of women in her family were forced to attend residential school. I found that this was emotional because the facts that we had just learned became more than a statistic, it was this girls' life. I also found that it was interesting when the girl told us not to blame ourselves for the decisions of our ancestors. Her tone was very forgiving, even as she spoke about the damage it caused her family.
- The most emotional part for me wasn't actually part of the Blanket Exercise, it was when we were in the groups at the end. The girl that was with us told us her story and it was about apartheid because she was from South Africa and it was very sad and realistic. It could somewhat be compared to the whites and Indians but in her case it was Blacks and Whites. Her tone was sad and we could really understand her perspective and there wasn't much bias towards it.
- The most emotional part for me was when I heard how many of their people were taken away from their families to go to school. It was emotional for me because I deeply care about my family and can't imagine them being taken from me.
- The most emotional part was when everyone started to leave. The blankets got smaller. People started dying because of disease. It was emotional because that's what they went through.
- The part I found most emotional was when people were getting killed. I was one of the people who got killed right away, so it showed how fast things happened.
- The most emotional part for me was when they were talking about how they just took the kids away from their parents. It was emotional because the kids and their parents don't deserve to be separated. Kids need their parents in their lives to be role models, but they couldn't because they were taken away from them and treated terribly.
- Having people on my blanket turn their back on me when I came back from Residential School was the most emotional moment for me. It was emotional because I have a general idea of what it feels like to be isolated due to my religion. however, it made me feel isolated and a much higher level because there was not much they could do about it.
- I felt a respect for them (indigenous peoples) when it was all done.
- The most emotional part of the presentation was when the girl in our group was talking about how suicide has really affected her life. When she started talking about it everyone grew really quiet and we were all listening to her. She said she had many suicide attempts. The way the crowd hushed showed that we had respect for her. She spoke in a quieter tone which showed that she was touchy on the subject and it was hard for her to tell her story.
- The most emotional part was the Residential Schools. It was hard hearing how the children were taken away and have no idea what's happening to them or where they are. I couldn't imagine the pain the parents of children would feel.
- The part that struck me the most was when they told the people with yellow cards to stand on a separate blanket, representing the ones who were forced to go to Residential Schools. Then they told us to walk back to our blanket and as we did, everyone turned their backs. It was heart breaking to see that no one cared. The speakers tone at the time was very demanding and fearful. Everyone listened, setting the mood that this was not a happy time.
- The most emotional part was when the girls took away the babies. It was the reality that so many babies/children died while they were getting taken away.
- The most emotional moment for me was when the older woman there walked around and yelled at the people on the blankets. The reason this upset me was because you could sense the amount of disrespect the First Nations got treated with. The way she yelled and talked made it seem real.
Note. Excerpts from the ECS reflections on the Blanket Exercise can be found on Treaty Walks question by question on the following dates:
1. What was your general impression or thoughts about the Blanket Exercise? Did you enjoy participating? August 14th, 2016
2. What did you learn from Friday's presentation? August 23rd, 2016
3. What was the most emotional moment for you? Why was it emotional? Consider the speaker's values, perspective, biases and tone. August 29th, 2016
4. The Blanket Exercise is designed to inspire action. How could an event like this inspire people? What could we do? September 2nd, 2016
5. Analyze the overall effectiveness of the presentation. September 9th, 2016