Senpaqcin school uses KAIROS blanket exercise to explore systems of governance


Harmony Swan Hall reads from a scroll during the KBE held at Senpaqcin school in Oliver.

The intermediate students and teachers at Senpaqcin school recent hosted the KAIROS blanket exercise as part of their inquiry into how systems of governance shape the lives of people.

The blanket exercise covers more than 500 years of history in a 90-minute experiential workshop with the purpose of fostering understanding about the shared history as Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people. Students, parents, community members and leaders walked on blankets that represented Turtle Island and into the role of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people.

The intermediate students all had scrolls to read that shared historical facts and distributed cards to participants which helped people role play a variety of different situations (pre-contact, treaty making, colonization and resistance).

“What was amazing about this exercise was the visual as the children spoke their parts,” elder  Ramona Bent said.”For example, (small) pox and the deaths and the ones holding a certain colour card had to sit down, then residential school and they were put on a separate blanket, ones who lost their status had to sit down and as they went through this you could see how many people were left and how the land was getting smaller for hunting, gathering, etc. What a powerful exercise…what a great learning tool and visual.”

The exercise concluded with a talking circle facilitated by community elders to discuss the learning experience and to share their thoughts, feelings and transformed thoughts.

Senpaqcin is an elementary school in Oliver and is operated by the Osoyoos Indian Band.

This year, the school became an International Bacculareate school, the first First Nations school in Canada to become authorized as an IB school.


Originally posted on February 14, 2019 in Penticton Herald.

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