Positioning Yourself as a Facilitator
As a facilitator, it is important to understand your own background in light of the history told through the Blanket Exercise. Sensitivity is needed to think about where you fit in this story, as an Indigenous person, a settler, a person of mixed heritage or as a newcomer to Canada. We all have a responsibility to raise awareness of the Indigenous rights issues presented in the Blanket Exercise and the resources suggested below can help you to think about how you may be able to convey the information in a respectful way from your own place in the story.
Ally Bill of Responsibilities, Lynn Gehl
This ‘bill’ is a collection of thoughts on the responsibilities of non-Indigenous allies when interacting and working with Indigenous peoples and issues. It is important that non-Indigenous allies have some structure and guidance to prevent further harm to Indigenous peoples.
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, Peggy McIntosh
“As a white person, I realized I had been taught about racism as something that puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege, which puts me at an advantage.” This list is meant to identify the daily effects of white privilege and provoke a conversation about changing the silences and denials surrounding privilege in the work towards systemic change.
This article helps to unpack what it means to be in solidarity with Indigenous struggles and the ways in which challenging colonization is an intricate part of that. It tackles tough issues such as who we take direction from, the importance of long-term commitments and moving beyond feelings of guilt.
As the Blanket Exercise broadly highlights how Indigenous land was taken during the course of colonization, it is important to focus in on the local context in order to allow participants to respond in a meaningful way to what they have learned. One way to do this is to acknowledge the Indigenous nation(s) and their occupation of the territory where the Exercise is taking place. It may also be useful to use the maps to look at who used the land in your particular area. You may wish to say the following at the opening of the exercise:
We begin by acknowledging the traditional territory upon which we gather. For many thousands of years, the (name the nation or nations) have sought to walk gently on this land. They offered assistance to the first European travellers to this territory and shared their knowledge for survival in what was at times a harsh climate. We seek a new relationship with the Original Peoples of this land, one based in honour and deep respect.
Highlighting the Local Context
The Blanket Exercise is meant to convey a broad picture of the story of colonization across Canada. It is impossible to give information on what occurred in every part of Canada in one exercise. However, it is important to make participants aware of the issues in their local, regional or provincial/territorial context, as the story changes. In order to provide you with more information on contexts not covered in the script, the following ‘Context Sheets’ have been prepared. These reflect only some of the issues that may be specific to your community: you are encouraged to do more research and build relationships with your local Indigenous nation(s) to learn about the issues first-hand.
These sheets are currently being prepared, and will be uploaded shortly.