The Blanket Exercise

Reflection by Rev. Diane Rollert, 21 February 2016

This week we embodied the story of Aboriginals on Turtle Island by standing on blankets that covered a good part of our sanctuary. As the Europeans arrived and the number of us playing the role of Indigenous people got smaller and smaller, the blankets got taken away until there were just a few blankets representing the few reserves left now.

We watched those blankets diminish through the Doctrine of Discovery (http://www.doctrineofdiscovery.org/index.htm), the ignoring of treaties, the residential school system (http://wherearethechildren.ca/en), and the sixties scoop (http://indigenousfoundations.arts.ubc.ca/home/government-policy/sixties-scoop.html) that removed Indigenous children from their families, and placed them in non-Indigenous families,  There were some startling moments that brought tears to my eyes:

•       The moment when one of our children was separated from her mother’s blanket and left alone to represent the children taken off to residential schools. The look of shock and dismay in her eyes.  At the same time, the fact that she seemed to quietly accept her fate, was chilling.

•       The moment when one woman was sent off into the far end of the sanctuary to represent the Inuit peoples forced far north into isolated, unfamiliar, and barren lands, hit me hard.

•       The moment when we clapped in honour of the work that Shannen Koostachin of Attawapiskat First Nation did and that other young people are doing to reclaim their rights, their education and their dignity, truly brought tears to my eyes.

•       Then there were the moments when a few people got choked up as they read the scrolls describing European actions.

Photos from the service: