MANITOBANS wanting to learn more about the history of the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people are invited to participate in a "blanket exercise" on Tuesday.
Sponsored by the Catholic Health Association of Manitoba, the exercise is "an interactive way for non-Indigenous people to understand the history of colonization," executive director Julie Turenne-Maynard said.
"It’s very participatory, not a lecture," she said. "It’s a way to walk through the experience of the loss of land and the legacy of residential schools."
In the exercise, which tells the story of Canada from an Indigenous perspective, participants stand on blankets that represent lands inhabited by First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.
A facilitator, playing the role of a European settler, walks the group through a script that tells the story of the first contact between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. As the story progresses, blankets are made smaller to represent the loss of land and loss of life of Indigenous people.
The exercise concludes with a "talking circle" in which participants can discuss the experience, process their feelings, ask questions, share insights and deepen their understanding.
"It’s a very powerful experience," Turenne-Maynard said. "I was very impacted by it the first time I did it. It’s a way to really learn the truth about the history of colonization."
The event is open to everyone, but she particularly encourages association members and others involved in the health-care system to participate.
"We all have a part to play in furthering reconciliation," Turenne-Maynard said, adding, "We need to do whatever we can to become more aware of the history of colonization, to really see the impact it had on Indigenous people."
The exercise was created by Kairos, an ecumenical organization made up of 10 denominations and administered by the United Church of Canada.
The outdoor event will take place from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. across from the St. Boniface Cathedral, which is located at 151 Ave. de la Cathedral. The cost is $10. To register, go to http://wfp.to/HOK or call 204-235-3136.
John Longhurst has been writing for Winnipeg's faith pages since 2003. He also writes for Religion News Service in the U.S., and blogs about the media, marketing and communications at Making the News.