Treaty Ed Camp over the weekend was something that I was very glad to be apart of. I enjoyed Friday night and Saturday morning listening and talking to different many different people throughout campus. A couple moments and experiences really stuck out however.
Early Saturday morning I took part in my first ever pipe ceremony. I was asked to give Life Speaker Noel Starblanket tobacco and blankets prior to the pipe ceremony, as a gift for him leading the ceremony. I had never done anything like that before, but it went well. I tried to give Noel the tobacco prior to it being smudged, but he quickly told me that it needed to be smudged before being spoken too. Part of building relationships is getting out of your comfort zone a bit, and I did that on Saturday morning. Instead of just hesitating or never doing something because you are scared, you just have to do it. It’s apart of learning. I’ve been to events where Noel has spoken before, but I had never really had conversations with him. I stuck around after the pipe ceremony and chatted for a while and then sat with him over lunch that afternoon. Having conversation and building relationships like that was great.
Saturday afternoon, I was asked to help out with a blanket exercise. This time around I played the role of the European. At the halfway point, an Indigenous woman read a script about residential schools. She struggled mightily to get through it. It was heartbreaking. For the remainder of the time our intimate group was inside the room doing to exercise and debrief, we cried. It was very difficult. Something that Elder Starr said on Friday night of the event was “know our story, feel our pain”. What he said kept running through my head during the blanket exercise. It was emotional. It was difficult. It was draining. It was an amazing experience. I think it would be impossible to not learn something and grow for anyone who participated in the blanket exercise that afternoon.