Forum highlights importance of treaties

KAIROS Blanket Exercise 2010

A committee organizing a local effort marking Treaties Recognition Week will hold a forum on Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Woodland Cultural Centre on Mohawk Street.

The Ontario government has passed legislation recognizing the importance of treaties.

Locally, the recognition week organizing committee is made up of pastors and members of St. Mark’s Anglican Church in Brantford and St. John’s Lutheran Church in Hamilton.

At St. Mark’s on Wednesday, November 9, 2016, the committee mounted a blanket exercise attended by nearly 40 people. The exercise consists of scattering blankets on the floor and taking them away one by one with the recitation of calamitous events that have befallen indigenous peoples. The exercise was developed 20 years ago by an organization called KAIROS and indigenous organizations to illustrate what has happened to indigenous people in 500 years of contact with European traders and settlers.

“It was a powerful experiential exercise that can be emotional, and it was that night,” said Rev. Peter Mogk, a spokesman for the organizing committee.

One blanket was taken away for those who died due to diseases.

Some blankets were folded as children were sent to residential school, forcibly separating them from their communities. Others were removed when some of those students died.

Other blankets were taken away as some starved. And some were taken away to mark natives removed from their traditional lands.

“At the beginning, all the blankets were together representing Turtle Island and everyone could move freely about the floor,” Mogk said. “But as blankets were pulled away, it became more and more difficult to move, until at last people were isolated and kept in place,
“As we work on reconciliation there must be a willingness to look at the painful truth of what has happened.”

Originally published in the Brantford Expositor on November 10, 2016 by Michael-Allan Marion.


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