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Agassiz blanket event to promote reconciliation at Anglican Church

The workshop will help people visualize the impacts of colonialism on First Nations

The All Saints Anglican Church is hoping to help people better understand the history of colonialism in North America with its first ever Blanket Exercise.

The workshop, being held at the Anglican Church hall on Wednesday, Oct. 2, is meant to help explain the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada.

At the workshop, blankets will be arranged on the floor to represent land, and participants will be able to step into the roles of First Nation, Inuit and eventually Metis people.

As the workshop progresses, the land will get smaller, providing a visual representation for how settler contact affected the lifestyles of First Nations across the country.

“The exercise is a unique, participatory history lesson developed in collaboration with Indigenous elders, knowledge keepers and educators among Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples,” a release about the event explained.

The October event will be facilitated by Shirley Hardman, senior advisor on Indigenous affairs at UFV, and Grand Chief Clarence Pennier from the Sq’ewlets First Nation.

The blanket workshop is being hosted by the church for the first time as part of its monthly “Wrongs to Rights” gathering, which has been going on since 2016.

The Wrongs to Rights meetings first began as a “journey of learning and reconciliation” for the church, while it began looking into the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a release about the gatherings said.

RELATED: All Saints Parish responds to Call to Action

Reverend David Price and meeting organizer Monica Gibson-Pugsley began inviting church members and the public to the monthly meetings.

Over the years, a number of Indigenous speakers have been invited to speak and share their knowledge on Indigenous law, education and health.

Now in its third year, the Wrongs to Rights group had its first meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 18. Its second meeting of the year will be the blanket exercise on Oct. 2, followed by a conversation with First Nations matriarch Helen Joe on Nov. 6, Seabird Island chief Clem Seymour on Dec. 4.

Meetings are also scheduled with Tyrone NcNeil (Jan. 15), Martha Fredette (Feb. 5), Keith Thor Carlson on being an ally to Indigenous people (March 4), Mark Point (April 1) and Earl Moulton (May 6).

Although the group is organized by the church, everyone is welcome to attend. Events are free, and begin with refreshments at 12:30 p.m., followed by discussion and learning from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

“The ‘Blanket Exercise’ is for everyone; churchgoers and unchurched alike,” the release reads.

“It is for those of any or no religion, any age, ethnic origin and orientation – in short, it is open to all ‘new’ and ‘old’ Canadians and everything in-between.”

On Wednesday, Oct. 2, anyone wishing to participate in the blanket exercise is asked to bring one or more blankets to be used in the event, if they can.

Participants should wear socks for walking on the blankets.

Refreshments will be offered before the workshop at 12:30 p.m., and the workshop will begin at 1 p.m. at the Anglican Church hall (6904 Lougheed Hwy).

The event is free, and anyone interested in attending is asked to email Monica Gibson-Pugsley at mgp2000@shaw.ca.



grace.kennedy@ahobserver.com

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