Sunday, February 11, 2018
Collaboration during UN World Interfaith Harmony Week in Calgary

On February 3, 2018, IofC Calgary collaborated with Metro Alliance for the Common Good (MACG) in organizing a Blanket Exercise as part of the UN World Interfaith Harmony Week.

We were blessed to have Chief Lee Crowchild of the Tsuut'ina Nation as our host.  He provided the room at Grey Eagle Resort on their traditional land.  William Bellegard and another First Nations Youth, Bernie, offered a song to open and close the ceremony. We followed protocol, offering tobacco to the Knowledge-Keeper, Chief, and drummers at the beginning of our time together.

Marilyn Shingoose was a wonderful Knowledge-Keeper/facilitator!  The whole event was so grounded in the spirit of the work, especially the Indigenous spirit.  The three MACG sub-committee members, Debra Faulk (Pastor, Unitarian Church of Canada), Marilou Legeyt (Calgary Catholic Diocese), and Janyce Konkin (Initiatives of Change Canada) acted as assistants throughout the Blanket Exercise.

But – the SNOW! Of the 130 people confirmed, only about 45 people were able to make it past the road closures, snow plows and 35 cm of snow falling that day.  However, those who attended found the exercise to be very worthwhile and educational.  Four separate debrief circles after the Blanket Exercise gave participants over an hour to share their feelings about the history of colonialism and its impacts on our First Nations people. Many of the First Nations participants were able to share their stories of first-hand experiences, including of residential experiences.

One participant stated “I am so profoundly moved, and I have a hard time controlling my tears, especially about the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.  This Blanket Exercise should be shared in every school in Canada.”