In the first week of October, I signed up to help facilitate a blanket exercise at Campion College. It was my 2nd time facilitating a blanket exercise. The first time I did a blanket exercise, I was a European, who handed out scrolls. No speaking roles, but it was a good opportunity to get involved and see what the exercise was all about. For the one at Campion, I took on a larger role, committing to being the narrator. There was about 50 participants, and I believe the exercise went well.
The role of narrator offers a much different perspective than handing out scrolls. I just kept reading off events and years of racism and oppression. That’s different than just listening. It’s also different watching people react to what I was saying. There was a lot of emotion in that blanket exercise and in the circle debrief that followed. In the debrief, one participant spoke about it being good that schools teach these stories. When it was my time to speak, I mentioned how these stories aren’t told enough in our schools. I honestly think it’s very rare for these stories to be told at all. They certainly weren’t when I went to school. I know they are being told more now though for sure.
Many other people spoke about never knowing this story of Indigenous Peoples. Mike Cappello, who was leading the blanket exercise, made it clear after the speaking stone made it’s way around the circle, that this wasn’t the Indigenous story, but this was OUR story (European settlers/colonizers). That is a powerful statement and I think a lot of people took notice, including me. Even after a powerful exercise, where many of the participants were more than likely hearing and experiencing things they’ve never heard before, I think the realization that it’s our story, our actions and our responsibility adds even more to it. It does for me.
It was the third blanket exercise I’ve been apart of (two as a facilitator, and one as a participant). Every time out, something different speaks to me. Whether it’s a different role I’m in during the exercise, how people react during the exercise, or what is said in the circle talk at the end, it’s a learning experience every time out. Being apart of learning for other people, whatever level of understanding they gain, is meaningful as well.