History of the Blanket Exercise
The KAIROS Blanket Exercise was recently endorsed as a “Successful Practice and Resource” by Indspire, a national Indigenous-led registered charity that invests in the education of Indigenous people for the long term benefit of these individuals, their families and communities, and Canada.
The KAIROS Blanket Exercise program is a unique, interactive and participatory history lesson developed in collaboration with Indigenous Elders, knowledge keepers and educators.
Developed in response to the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples in 1996 –which recommended education about Canadian-Indigenous history as one of the key steps to reconciliation — the KAIROS Blanket Exercise (KBE) covers more than 500 years in a 90-minute experiential workshop that aims to foster understanding about our shared history as Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Since its creation, the Exercise has been updated several times to include new information such as the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation final report.
During the KBE, participants walk on blankets representing the land and into the role of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples by reading scrolls and carrying cards which ultimately determine their outcome as they literally ‘walk’ through situations that include pre-contact, treaty-making, colonization and resistance. Participants are guided through the experience by trained facilitators (who read the script and assume the roles of European explorers and settlers) and Indigenous Elders or knowledge keepers. The Exercise concludes with a debriefing, conducted as a `talking circle’, during which participants discuss the learning experience, process their feelings, ask questions, share insights and deepen their understanding.
Since its creation in 1997, tens of thousands of KAIROS Blanket Exercises have been conducted in Canada and around the world, including in the United States, Guatemala, and Australia. By engaging participants on both emotional and intellectual levels, the KBE is able to both educate and create understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples … in Canada and throughout the world!
Watch the Blanket Exercise in action.
Read more about the history of the Blanket Exercise in “Honouring the Legacy of the Royal Commission: Living into Truth and Reconciliation A Case Study of KAIROS Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives”.