by Raven Cook
My fingers were fidgeting as I held the paper. I could feel myself getting anxious but I knew I could do it. Looking at the scenery of the hills – the leaves red, yellow and orange – calmed me down. I saw students half way up, some of them taking their time, and some of them were at top looking down at the harbor, campers, tipis, the hills and the lake. I thought to myself, “If they could climb the hill then I could do the blanket exercise.” haha. And I did.
When I first did the Kairos Blanket Exercise during the Treaty 4 days, I was very nervous. I read as the European voice in the script. I never knew about the exercise, and when I did get to learn about it, it made me realize that more of the history of Canada is pretty sad. I really didn’t learn about the residential schools and how they actually treated the indigenous peoples until I was in grade 9. At times reading the Europeans’ voice got frustrating and uncomfortable because of how unfairly they treated us Indigenous peoples, but at times it felt good to give the information to the students about the history.
The Blanket Exercise mentions important things in the history of Canada, the missing indigenous women; how reservations are managed poorly; the water is a risk to human health and how houses need repairs; the suicide rate in reserves. These things need to be brought up more because these things are still a problem and things need to be changed; as it says in the exercise. Some people say “get over it, it’s in the past” but you can’t if it’s still hurting some people. I visited my home reserve this summer for a couple weeks. I could actually feel and see how it affected people around me and including myself. I don’t even live there but staying there was hard.
I performed the exercise in front of university students that are going to be future teachers and that felt good, hearing their thoughts felt good. It made me felt like I was doing something important. I look forward to doing the exercise to different people and also look forward to hearing their responses during the talking circle. The talking circle is probably my favourite part of it because it could be so powerful.
It’s been a week since we were out at Treaty 4 narrating the Blanket Exercise. Yesterday I climbed the hill, just to look at the view. I saw the autumn colour leaves, the sunshine showing the hill shadows, the sunset. It was windy and it felt good up there. I was looking at the Treaty 4 grounds being empty and pictured it filled with students and campers as if it were last week. I went walking in the field on top. It was quiet and still beautiful. I was thinking how people used to live up on that land and how they were taken, and how the land was taken. I walked toward the graveyard, looking at the gravestones while I passed through. I was wondering if they were at peace, wondering about the families. I made my way through the graveyard to the hill that leads down; the view that way was even more beautiful because the clouds were a purple mixed with pink and the sky darkened but you could still see the sunlight over the hills. I took my time going down this steep hill, but I ended up slipping, almost spraining my ankle. Despite that happening I would still go up the hill just to look at the view and to let my mind wonder.
Photo by Raven Cook