The Blanket Exercise is an interactive learning experience that teaches the Indigenous rights history. Developed in response to the 1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples—which recommended education on Canadian-Indigenous history as one of the key steps to reconciliation—the Blanket Exercise covers more than 500 years of history in a participatory workshop.
Blanket Exercise participants 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. They are directed by facilitators representing a narrator and the European colonizers. Participants are drawn into the experience by reading scrolls and carrying cards, which ultimately determine their outcomes. By engaging on an emotional and intellectual level, the Blanket Exercise effectively educates and increases empathy. Ideally, the exercise is followed by a debriefing session in which participants have the opportunity to discuss the experience as a group. This often takes the form of a talking circle.
Sturgeon Public School Division administrators participated in the Blanket Excercise facilitated by Musée Héritage Museum staff. We have more staff Blanket Exercises scheduled and have also received requests for students to experience the Blanket Exercise in their social studies classes, as there is a direct curriculum link.