Monday, January 23, 2017

Quebec City, November 16, 2016 - I am overjoyed to share my wonderful experience as an Innu and IofC member at the Cégep de Sainte-Foy (college) in Quebec City. Each experience of the Blanket Exercise--an activity aimed at raising the awareness of all citizens to colonial history and to Aboriginal reality--has been unique.

On November 16, a group of 40 students in Social Science, and two teachers spent an hour and a half learning about the reality of Canadian Aboriginals. A team of four young women had adapted the content of the exercise.

For the exercise, objects that would later be used for barter as well as three dolls representing children were distributed to some students. Surprises were built into the activity. For example, some youth ended up being excluded during the exercise because they were representing those who suffered from diseases or abuse at residential schools, or who had died.

I could see their attitude and faces change as the activity progressed. I was really touched by this young man’s reaction when I brutally away took his doll. I could read extreme anger in his face. Later, during the Talking Circle, he confirmed my impression by voicing his anger.  He added that he now understood what the parents of kidnapped children had contended with, and were still enduring.

I saw a young student sobbing in deep distress when she realized what her Cree mother and grandmother had gone through. She said that as soon as she was out the room, she would go and hug them.

Another young woman stood a long time by a painting of disappeared women and then she came to tell me how proud she was of her father who had successfully passed his Inuit identity on to her. I congratulated her and encouraged her on.

These students expressed their great disappointment with the way history had never been taught correctly in schools. We concluded the activity by saying that, as future social workers, it was our mission to compensate for this lack, and to work differently with Aboriginal peoples.

Marie Émilie Lacroix, Québec City