KAIROS Blanket Exercise, an emotional, informative and cathartic experience

Tom Henihan
Express Staff


Members of the community and Holy Family Catholic Regional Division staff participated in a KAIROS Blanket Ceremony at École Providence on Monday April 16.

A group of HFCRD staff members were trained to present the exercise, which Jamie Chalifoux a Grades 6 to 9 Success Coach at St. Andrews School in High Prairie, hosted.

Also organizing the Blanket Exercise were Charlene Noskey, HFCRD’s Divisional First Nations, Mete and Inuit Education Coordinator, Monica Leonardis teacher at St. Andrews and division learning coaches, Mary Braind and Joanna Baird.

Through participation in the KAIROS Blanket Exercise, participants acquire a graphic understanding of the historic and contemporary relationship between Canada and First Nations.

Using a process of re-enactment with the blankets representing land originally occupied by First Nations, as the exercise progresses the blankets are folded back signifying the diminishing territory and marginalization of aboriginal peoples.

The exercise also illustrates the effects of disease, the devastating experiences and continued repercussions of the residential school system, the Metes and First Nations struggle for land and rights in the face of an arbitrary and unjust system.

The blanket exercise is a moving and edifying experience with the underlying objective of creating understanding and achieving reconciliation between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Canadians.

The overwhelming response from non-aboriginal participants in the Blanket Exercise was to ask why, having gone through school and university, they had never acquired most of the information they learned that evening through doing the exercise.

Many local organizations and services were represented at the Blanket Exercise including the RCMP, Fire Department, McLennan Municipal Library, and Fr. Eucarius of St. John the Baptist Parish.

HFCRD Superintendent Bette Turpin and John Fisher HFCRD Board of Trustees also attended.

All participants, whether Aboriginal, Métis or non-aboriginal agreed that all Canadian students and adults should be better informed about this troubling aspect of our history in order to address our present dilemma, bridge the cultural chasm and achieve reconciliation.

Approximately 30 participants at the beginning of the KAIROS Blanket Exercise that took place at the École Providence on April 16.
Those who too part in the KAIROS Blanket Exercise discuss their response to the exercise and talk about what they learned from taking part in the event.


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