The Blanket Exercise is an interactive learning experience that teaches the Indigenous rights history we’re rarely taught. Originally developed by Kairos Canada more than 20 years ago in response to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996), the exercise takes participants through Canadian history from an Indigenous perspective.
In this two-hour workshop, participants are asked to bring a blanket which will be used to represent the land. Blanket Exercise participants take on the roles of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Standing on blankets, they walk through pre-contact, treaty-making, colonization and resistance. They are directed by facilitators representing a narrator and the European colonizers. Participants are drawn into the experience by reading scrolls and carrying cards which ultimately determine their outcomes. By engaging on an emotional and intellectual level, the Blanket Exercise effectively educates and increases empathy. The exercise is followed by a debriefing session in which participants have the opportunity to discuss the experience as a group in the form of a talking circle.
To understand more about what the Blanket Exercise looks like and what to expect, check out this short video made by RISE volunteer Shawn Tse.