In fall of 2017, Calgary Public Library staff had the opportunity to participate in the KAIROS Blanket Exercise. The interactive learning experience covers more than 500 years of history in a one-and-a-half-hour workshop, followed by a talking circle.
The blanket exercise is designed to build understanding and empathy, and to raise awareness of the historical and existing nation-to-nation relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. Participants read first-person perspectives, while blankets are used to represent the land of Indigenous peoples in Canada, through pre-contact, treaty-making, colonization, and resistance.
KARIOS Canada, a faith-based social justice organization, developed the exercise in response to the federal government’s 1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. It has since been offered thousands of times.
At Calgary Public Library, 240 employees participated in the powerful exercise during three sessions in October 2017. Susan Cardinal, Elder Francis Wolf Leg, and Teneya Gwin facilitated the KAIROS Blanket Exercise for Library staff.