top of page

Unfolding History: The Power and Purpose behind KAIROS Blanket Exercises in the Peace

A grassroot movement to share an Indigenous perspective of history in the Peace Region has led to a commitment to lead communities, schools, businesses and organizations to participate in Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action.




Wendy Goulet and her sister Shari Robinson alongside the Peace River School Division’s Indigenous Education Program Coordinator, Holly Crumpton, are part of a local group of Elders and community volunteers who frequently facilitate the KAIROS Blanket Exercise throughout the Peace Region.


Weaving together stories—many of them local to the Peace Region—the goal is to create a path of healing and understanding for all.


“Our mission is to empower everyone to help build a better future together based on a deeper understanding of the history that has led us to where we are now,” said Crumpton.


Together, their work stands as a beacon of hope, illuminating a shared route toward a more inclusive and compassionate future.


“We spent over a year listening to Elders, knowledge keepers and community members, so we could share their stories with participants,” said Crumpton. “It quickly became clear this was an amazing opportunity for everyone involved and a powerful teaching tool that provides a significant impact.”


What is the KAIROS Blanket Exercise?

The KAIROS Blanket Exercise is an interactive and experiential two-hour training session. It’s used to teach Indigenous history using an Indigenous lens.


During each event, facilitators guide participants through a summarized version of historical events—from pre-contact to colonization—and the exercise illuminates how colonialism continues in the present day.


“I attended my first KAIROS Blanket Exercise in 2015, and I immediately took the facilitator training with KAIROS afterward,” said Goulet. “After facilitating a couple Blanket Exercises, I knew we could localize it for the Peace Region.”


In 2016, the education sub-committee of the Peace River Aboriginal Interagency Committee decided to begin the process of creating localized content for the Blanket Exercise.


Elders and other Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members, including representatives from local schools and the Peace River Museum reached out to gather more stories.


In 2017, the group started organizing and sharing Blanket Exercises with localized scripts. Since then, they have hosted over 50 Blanket Exercises—sharing the experience with schools, local businesses and community groups.


The localized script has continued to evolve as new stories are shared. New ideas are woven in to help further fine tune the script and ensure it has the greatest possible impact while remaining up to date as history continues to unfold.




“We share stories from local experiences, which usually opens a few eyes and changes perspectives for many,” said Robinson. “Many participants don’t know the truth about the past and some communities can be shaken by what they learn.”


Together, they have brought Blanket Exercises to communities such as Duncan’s First Nation, Cadotte Lake, Peace River, Fairview, Manning, Grimshaw, Hines Creek and Nampa.


“We have now hosted many different Blanket Exercises for a multitude of groups and businesses,” said Crumpton. “We’ve facilitated events for parent councils, museum and hospital boards, churches, town councils, large companies like Mercer, friendship centres and many other organizations throughout the Peace Region.”


They have also shared in Grande Prairie, Valleyview, High Level, Dawson Creek and Slave Lake.


Anyone can attend a Blanket Exercise, and people from different backgrounds are always encouraged to participate. It can create a positive ripple effect throughout communities, families and within other groups and relationships.




“It is especially important for non-Indigenous people to take the time and effort to understand local history from an Indigenous point of view. Otherwise, they may not have as much empathy when they see the impacts this history has had on our local communities, or even people they know,” said Crumpton.


When attending a Blanket Exercise, participants can expect to be involved in an interactive, hands-on experience that brings to life a summarization of historical events, which can often leave a lasting impression on those who join.



“These sessions often evoke a heartfelt response to those in attendance. History comes alive during a Blanket Exercise and provides a bigger impact than just reading about it in a textbook,” said Robinson.


Hosting these kinds of events are important for communities because they create a sense of connection, provide education about the region’s history, and encourage Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to show empathy for one another as they come to terms with what has often been a painful history.


“People need to know the true history of Canada. Our goal is to raise awareness, understanding, empathy and inspire real action,” said Goulet. “No one is ever made to feel guilty, and we don’t expect sympathy or pity. We provide an achievable step for Canadians to fulfill a Call to Action from the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”



Membership in the Blanket Exercise group is open to anyone in the community who is interested in helping or supporting them.


Hosting a Blanket Exercise is straight forward, so any business, organization or high school class can contact Crumpton, Goulet or Robinson. They will work together to bring a group of facilitators to your location.


“This is a collective effort. I have an immense amount of gratitude for people in our communities who step forward to share their stories,” said Crumpton. “We would like to thank our community facilitators, Elders, and knowledge keepers, along with the community members who ask to learn this way. Without all these pieces, these events wouldn’t happen.”


An upcoming Blanket Exercise will be held at the Peace River Municipal Library on June 24. If you wish to attend, please register online at: prmlibrary.ab.ca/events or call the library at

780-624-4076.


The KAIROS Blanket Exercise is a program of KAIROS Canada, which is an ecumenical movement for ecological justice and human rights around the globe.


 

By Dani Wearden | Photography by Tyrell Parenteau

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page