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Blanket exercise teaching people about Canadian history in a hands-on way

Indigenous history is Canadian history. That’s the message the Grande Prairie Friendship Centre in partnership with Spinal Cord Injury Alberta is trying to share at this month’s blanket exercise.

Friendship Centre Community Collaboration Coordinator Andrea Deleeuw says the exercise gives people a chance to learn about history in general, not just from an Indigenous perspective.

“It’s been my experience that people really do want to learn and this is just a really good learning opportunity to increase people’s understanding and awareness of our Canadian history… This is everyone’s history, not just Indigenous people. If we live here we are all connected to this history somehow.”

The exercise was developed by an Ottawa based company as a way to educate people about how Canada was shaped by those who live here. Deleeuw says the Friendship Centre started doing them three years ago as a way to fill in some gaps left by school curriculums.

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“We know how the school curriculum was before. [It] would often leave out a lot of information in regards to the Indigenous history which really is Canadian history as a whole. So it’s really an education way to learn about history and its an interactive way to do it.

People bring their own blanket which is used to represent Canada. They will then be taken through how Canada was formed while covering topics such as Indigenous issues and policies as well as residential schools.

Deleeuw says shes heard from a number of past participants that their lives have changed after taking part.

“At the last one, we had several people say that they won’t be leaving the same person as they were when they first walked in…It’s really about gaining understanding, respect and empathy and for all people just remembering that we all have this shared history.”

The event is open to the public and will be wheelchair accessible. It will be held at the Richmond Reception Centre at the Bear Creek Funeral Home on April 24th from 12:30 to 3 p.m. To register call 780-228-0653.

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