This was my third time taking part in this exercise and every time I take part I find myself learning and discovering so much more every single time.
The two experiences I had before this class seemed to be very similar. I was able to make it to the end of the exercise remaining on the blankets. I watched as people died from diseases, were taken to residential schools, or were told they had to leave their land. I felt like I was on of the lucky ones that got to keep their land. The part that I regretted after both of these experiences was not fighting to keep the land that I did have. I was just letting the Europeans kick my blanket and make it smaller and smaller until there was barely enough room for my feet. Looking back now, I wish that I would have tried to keep as much as I possibly could have. After it was all done, the fact that I was able to look around and see what little amount of blankets were left, is what really had an impact on me.
This experience was different than my previous two. I was handed a card, and having seen this before, I had somewhat of an idea what it meant. Early on in the activity I was killed because of a disease and had to return to my chair and watch the rest of the blanket exercise from the side. I was immediately bummed and felt as though I had lost even though there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I then sat back and watched as some of my classmates listened to everything the Europeans said, while others took a little bit more of a stance and worked to keep their land. I was able to listen more carefully to the words the narrator spoke, and was shocked to hear so much more of the information I had not listed as intently to before. The words that stuck out to me the most were “please” and “I’m sorry.” They Europeans would apologize for what their were doing, but their actions never ended up changing. This was such an eye opener for me! I also loved coming together at the end to talk and listen with everyone who took part. I think this is a critical part when facilitating this exercise.
I now know that no matter what position myself, my colleagues, or my students take during this activity, they will gain so much out of it. This is something that I definitely want to bring into my future classroom.
– Ms. S