Truth and reconciliation at UW: the KAIROS Blanket Exercise


Hosted on Thursday at the St. Jerome’s Chapel, the KAIROS Blanket Exercise (KBE) aimed to provide insight into the struggles of Indigenous communities throughout history. The event began with a smudging ceremony led by an Indigenous Eder and Métis community member. During the smudging, sage and wheatgrass were burned and fanned with an eagle feather. The smoke was then wafted over participants in order to cleanse the spirit.

Following the smudging, the KBE began with participants removing their shoes and spreading out over various blankets, which represented Indigenous peoples and their lands. As the ceremony progressed, facilitators reenacted the history of colonialism, land treaties, sweeping epidemics among Indigenous communities, and residential schools, and ended with the current crises Indigenous people face such as the water crisis and the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

The blanket ceremony concluded with participants being given the chance to examine Indigenous literature and artefacts, followed by a talking circle to debrief and a shared meal. If you are looking to learn more about Indigenous history, this interactive exercise provides an excellent starting point. Visit @kairos.canada on Instagram to find similar opportunities nearby.