The Faculty of Education at the University of Regina hosted “Walking Together 2016: A Day of Education of Truth and Reconciliation” where over a 1,000 students grade 5-12 took part in learning about the colonial history of Canada and the path that is being built to help with healing and reconciliation. I was one of the lucky university students who got to volunteer their time to help with this event, ensuring that all students got an education that made them think about the importance of reconciliation.
I was facilitating the Blanket Exercise, which really engaged the students. The team I was with used the junior kit, and presented to a 7/8 class where the majority of students were Aboriginal or of an new Immigrant background. For some of the students this was the first time they ever heard about Canada’s secret history, others had a good understanding because the survivors are their parents and grandparents. Something that I found interesting was how disengaged the teachers of this group was, when maybe of their students ended up in tears while debriefing in the talking circle.
The other class that I was with had very engaged teachers who actually resisted the folding of the blankets. I have facilitated the blanket exercise four times before this, and participated twice, I have never seen people actually resist the folding of the blankets, usually they are complacent and help fold the blanket smaller without even realizing that they are allowing colonialism to happen as they stand by passively. The students took a lot of notice to the resistance, which caused the students to start resisting. This was easily one of the most productive Blanket Exercises that I have facilitated.
The whole day taught me a lot about the passion students have for fixing the wrong of the past, and while there is a long road before reconciliation will be complete, having multiple generations of people who are passionate about making reconciliation happen is very inspiring to go in depth when teaching about reconciliation and encouraging students to take action. walking-together