The complete history of the land known as Canada is rarely told. Most Canadians never learn the history of the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit, peoples from an Indigenous perspective, which is why the KAIROS Blanket ExerciseTM is so important. The Blanket Exercise consists of trained facilitators leading participants through an experiential workshop on pre-contact, treaty-making, colonization and resistance in order to provide an understanding of the shared history of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. This is then followed by a talking circle with the participants. An integral component of the exercise is increasing education, as this is identified as a key part of reconciliation within the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC).
The Aboriginal Sport Circle, in partnership with the Sport for Life Society, has facilitated the development of Aboriginal Long-Term Participant Development Pathway resources and workshops that educate mainstream sport leaders about the barriers that Indigenous participants may face in trying to navigate the sport and physical activity system. Learning facilitators who deliver the Aboriginal Long-Term Participant Development Pathway workshops are now being trained as KAIROS Blanket Exercise facilitators. This initiative will establish an even better understanding of Indigenous history while also delivering a consistent, educational experience for sport and physical activity leaders. This experience and new perspective provide a foundation for how an organization can and needs to engage with reconciliation.
“Residential schools and colonization changed life for First Nations, Métis and Inuit people in a negative way,” says Greg Henhawk, a Mohawk of the Bear Clan from Six Nations of the Grand River, and Sport for Life learning facilitator. “The Blanket Exercise seeks to change awareness, knowledge and respect for all people in a positive way.”
The KAIROS Blanket Exercise, developed in collaboration with Indigenous Elders, knowledge keepers, and educators, allows participants to actively take part in a 500-year history lesson of colonization. It fosters truth, understanding, respect and reconciliation among Indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. The Blanket Exercise itself is not reconciliation—it is however an important step in a longer shared journey toward truth and understanding.
To learn more about the KAIROS Blanket Exercise, visit kairosblanketexercise.org.
To learn more about the Aboriginal Long-Term Participant Development Pathway, visit sportforlife.ca/indigenous-peoples.