KAIROS Blanket Exercises
Updated: Dec 10, 2019
Learn more about how this educational resource can expand your understanding of Canadian history and contemporary Indigenous realities.
By: Andrea Deleeuw
December 6, 2019
I have been working as a KAIROS Blanket Exercise facilitator since 2016, and in that time I feel privileged to have helped create space for people from all walks of life to learn more about Canadian history from an Indigenous lens.
KAIROS Blanket Exercises were developed as a response to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples in 1996. Faith-based organizations worked in partnership with Indigenous Elders and educators wanted to develop an educational tool that would help bridge the gap in awareness about Canadian history and contemporary Indigenous realities. According to the KAIROS website, "since its creation in 1997, tens of thousands of KAIROS Blanket Exercises have been conducted in Canada and around the world, including in the United States, Guatemala, and Australia". (Learn more about KAIROS here).
What Happens In a KAIROS Blanket Exercise?
While KAIROS Blanket Exercises always follow the same format, each one is as unique as the participants themselves. We never know who will be in the circle, what their past experiences are, and where they are in their journey-- those are just some of the reasons it's important to have trained facilitators leading the process.
"While KAIROS Blanket Exercises always follow the same format, each one is as unique as the participants themselves"
The experience is highly interactive. Participants sit in a circle (pictured above) and are welcomed with a prayer and opening remarks from an Elder or knowledge keeper. Smudge will also sometimes be available, which provides additional grounding, as well as an opportunity to educate.
From there, roles are assigned, and as facilitators read from the script, participants act out their role. This part takes approximately 45 minutes.
Following the exercise itself, participants are invited to take a short break, and rejoin the group for a sharing circle facilitated by the Elder or knowledge keeper. Each person gets a chance to share about what they experienced and what they will be carrying forth. The entire exercise usually takes 2.5-3 hours in total.
How Do I Participate in a KAIROS Blanket Exercise?
The Grande Prairie Friendship Centre has a team of trained facilitators. If you are located in the Grande Prairie area, feel send an email directly to them at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about how you, or your organization, can participate in a KAIROS Blanket Exercise.