North Vancouver School District
the natural place to learn©
Mar 10
Treading Through Canadian History
By Noam, IB Diploma Programme Student, Carson Graham Secondary

The sound of excited, chattering voices subsided quickly as one of the teachers of our Theory of Knowledge class at Carson Graham stepped into the large circle of students. She proceeded to provide us with a short explanation of the activity that was about to take place, and shortly, the blanket exercise began.

The blanket exercise is an interactive experience retelling the timeline of events the First Nations peoples of Canada experienced since first contact with European settles. The students involved "take on the roles of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Standing on blankets that represent the land, they walk through pre-contact, treaty-making, colonization and resistance” (KAIROS Blanket Exercise Resource Centre - The Blanket Exercise). It is a powerful way of reflecting the history of these Indigenous peoples and the events they endured. By physically taking on their roles and hearing tales of their vibrant customs, beliefs, and ways of life, we were all able to gain an empathetic understanding of the ordeals they endured; an understanding that goes far deeper than simply reading facts in a history book.

Words of empathy echoed throughout the classroom when we were asked to share what we had taken away from the experience. Other comments included the importance of education about this topic, gratitude for the opportunity to live and learn in such a culturally diverse place, and pledges to do our part in changing society for the better in accordance with this part of Canada's history. This experience provided us with a new dimension of viewing the colonial reality of the Aboriginal peoples, and allowed us to connect with the difficult Canadian knowledge in a way we were never able to before.  This blanket exercise helped us to realize the faults as well as the faded beauty of our past, and prompted us to do something about it for the better. I think that it should be encouraged across all age groups to explore the countless stories of our history, because we could all benefit from the knowledge it has to offer. 

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Theory of Knowledge class at Carson Graham recently participate in the Blanket Exercise. Photograph by Rasa Taheri, student.

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