Enacting the part of the First Peoples gave flesh to history

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

In a sharing circle after a blanket exercise, several people commented that enacting history in the role of an Indigenous North American had a greater impact than reading or studying about injustices.

The blanket exercise isn’t a traditional ceremony. It’s an exercise developed by a group of elders in the 1990s to explain the history of Turtle Island, i.e. North America.

The blanket exercise at the Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre, on October 1, was the second in a series of free cultural training events put on by Keepers of the Athabasca.

Jule Asterisk, from Keepers, and Zoe Lightening-Fillion and Sierra Delaney led the exercise.

Lightening-Fillion and Delaney are Roland Michener Secondary School students, and members of the Youth Council for Truth and Reconciliation.

During the exercise, Blankets on the ground symbolized the land. Participants played the First Peoples. Asterisk played the European. Lightening-Fillion and Delaney were narrators.

The event started with a smudge done by Sandra (Sandy) Willier. It ended with a sharing circle. Everyone learned something from the experience.

At noon, 17 people attended and six came for supper and the evening session.

In Slave Lake, the next workshop is “Exploring the Treaties” on November 5 at noon and 6 p.m., at the Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre.

The blanket exercise will be offered at other Native Friendship Centres throughout the month of October.

Jule Asterisk (the European) flips up the blankets to symbolize land being taken. It is part of the blanket exercise, on Oct. 1 at the Friendship Centre.

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