Words cannot express the gratitude for every time we are called upon to offer the KAIROS Blanket Exercise (KBE). It is an honour to meet with participants who, for the most part, are on a journey of learning.
We have been asked to go where people have little or no knowledge, or who have a lot of knowledge. We meet those who are shocked, angered, saddened that their country has hidden its atrocities. We hear the anguish of understanding why Mom/Grandma couldn’t speak of the past. We sit with tears, giggles and disbelief. We hold these people in our arms, at their request. We have a fan and smudge the Spirits of the Ancestors. We learn along with the people we teach.
The ability to work from heart, not head makes this an opportunity like few others. We bring our whole selves to every group. We bring our vulnerability, trust, our tears, laughter and stories. Each group is unique as is each facilitator, whether Indigenous or non-Indigenous. In this way of being, we bring our humanness.
Stories are amazing tools. The KBE itself is story. When we bring our own stories, add them to the whole story, we add the present and the reality of today. When we add our story, we are not doing this to create guilt, grief, anger or pity. We share story because we are present, a reminder that story is real and ongoing. I often remind Talking Circles that by sharing some of my story and you sharing yours, we build relationship. By building relationship, we walk together in a better way. It is not always easy but if done right, can be healing.
A proud Canadian, who decorated home and property in red and white, every year for 30 years, stated amid a deluge of tears that: “ the house would not be decorated until Indigenous people had a seat at the table, are fed like every other Canadian.”
There are participants who do not seem to understand or want to acknowledge what they have heard. It can be difficult. There is no such thing as a “waste of time.” The Ancestors gave me the words, “You never know what seeds are planted. You have to hope they will be watered and grow. We need to allow that to happen by leaving the bundle at the door. We cannot carry every group with us. We will not be able to keep walking in a good way.”
The Honourable Murray Sinclair’s words often ring in my ear before we begin a KBE. “Education got us in to this mess and education will get us out of it.”
Richard Wagamese wrote: “We are all story. From the moment we are born to the time we continue our spirit journey, we are involved in the creation of our time here. It is all that we arrive with. It is all we leave behind. We are not the things we accumulate. We are not the things we deem important. We are story. All of us. What comes to matter then is the creation of the best possible story we can while we are here. You-Me-Us-Together. When we can do that and we take the time to share these stories with each other, we get bigger inside. We see each other. We recognize our kinship. We change the world, one story at a time.”
Mim Harder is facilitator, trainer and Grandmother for KAIROS Blanket Exercises all over the GTA and beyond.