Rotary conferences typically include an experiential session where Rotarians and guests participate in a ‘hands on’ exercise that epitomizes the Rotary motto of ‘Service Above Self’. Some examples have been making blankets for homeless youth, STOP Hunger Now meal packing and tree planting.
The activity planned for the 2017 District Conference is the KAIROS Blanket Exercise. We hope to have up to 100 Rotarians and guests participate in this session on Saturday afternoon, November 4th.
The KAIROS Blanket Exercise is an interactive learning experience that teaches the Indigenous rights history we’re rarely taught. Developed in response to the 1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples—which recommended education on Canadian-Indigenous history as one of the key steps to reconciliation, the Blanket Exercise covers over 500 years of history in a one and a half hour participatory workshop.
Blanket Exercise participants take on the roles of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Standing on blankets that represent the land, they walk through pre-contact, treaty-making, colonization and resistance. They are directed by facilitators representing a narrator (or narrators) and the European colonizers. Participants are drawn into the experience by reading scrolls and carrying cards which ultimately determine their outcomes. By engaging on an emotional and intellectual level, the Blanket Exercise effectively educates and increases empathy. Ideally, the exercise is followed by a debriefing session in which participants have the opportunity to discuss the experience as a group. This often takes the form of a talking circle.