INDIGENOUS CULTURAL TRAINING
Virtual KAIROS Blanket Exercise
What is it
In response to the national inquiry and collaborative truths shared by residential school survivors, the Canadian government negotiated an agreement that included the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada [TRC]. The TRC contains 94 Calls to Action to be implemented by the Government of Canada. Truth is needed before reconciliation can happen. Truth in the form of education. The virtual Kairos blanket exercise is a powerfully engaging and interactive way to learn and experience truths that are integral to the reconciliation process.
Where and How
The virtual workshop is facilitated by myself as lead as well as my team of 2 others. It is hosted on the ZOOM platform with each session given its own login details. The workshop takes approximately 1.5 hours and is then followed by a Talking Circle which generally takes about an hour. The traditional format of a Talking Circle is used for the purpose of debriefing to discuss the learning experience, process any emotions that may have been evoked throughout, to share insights and to deepen their understanding. Sessions are generally booked in 3-hour allotments. PLEASE NOTE: The original VKBE script was created and developed in collaboration with Indigenous community Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and educators.
The virtual Blanket Exercise workshop is a powerful tool with the potential to trigger participants if not facilitated in a good way. All facilitators are required to attend training sessions to learn best practices, principles of trauma-informed facilitating, and how to create a safe space for each VBE. The VBE can be an effective step in the healing-centered engagement process for everyone in the workshop. The facilitation practices center on Indigenous cultural safety protocols and knowledge.
Reconciliation through Education
The key to reconciliation is education. Part of this education must involve truth – truth about our shared histories here on Turtle Island, also called Canada. We are all Treaty people. In order to respectfully adhere to the Treaties and to successfully live together in peace, friendship with mutual respect, we need a shared understanding of how our collective past brought us to where we are today. We need to know our past in order to fully understand the present to then know what our responsibilities are for future generations. Truthful education is just one step in this journey. It must also be followed by action.
How it Works
By means of a personal map drawing that represents one’s home, land and/or community, participants are guided through the historic and contemporary relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in the land now referred to as Canada also known as Turtle Island. The journey guides the participants through pre-European contact to post-European contact, treaty-making, colonization, resistance, and perseverance. The exercise concludes with a debriefing, by way of a talking circle, during which the participants discuss the learning experience, share insights, and deepen their understanding. The virtual workshop is interactive, engaging and focused through the Indigenous worldview. The goal of the exercise is to engage its participants both intellectually and emotionally to educate and evoke empathy and understanding.
Booking and Participation
The vKBE is best suitable for groups of between 15 and 40 participants, maximum 43. If your group is larger than 43, we will work with you to book additional sessions. All participants need to be logged into different computers and have access to the Zoom platform. The use of phones, tablets, or other handheld devices is not recommended for best experience of the vKBE. Complete our Request Form to express your interest.
After you have submitted a request for your private vKBE our administrator will send you a quote and work with you to finalize a date and time for your group. Once your vKBE is confirmed and booked, you will be sent a virtual package with instructions for participants and all needed materials.
To attend a vKBE as an individual or a small group of less than 15, please submit a request and your name will be added to a list. You will be notified of registration once an open vKBE is scheduled.
TALKING IS MEDICINE
Talking & Healing Circles
The Circle is a powerful tool used in my work to facilitate the process of truth and reconciliation. Circle work creates a sacred space for connection and healing. The Circle has healing power. In the circle, we are all equal, there is no one in front of you and no one behind you, above or below you. The Sacred Circle creates unity.
The Circle brings people together as equals to have open exchanges about difficult issues, painful experiences, trauma, grief, celebrations, goals, accomplishments, life lessons, cultural teachings, life experiences in an atmosphere of respect and support. The key principles of the Circle are to honor the presence and dignity of each participant and to value each other’s contribution to the Circle with each participant given an equal voice. Confidentiality is essential to ensure openness and emotional safety.
Talking Circles are deeply rooted in the traditional practices of Indigenous people as an educational group activity versus a therapeutic group format. Traditionally, Talking Circles are a way of bringing communities together for the purpose of teaching, listening, and learning. Talking Circles are a way to pass on knowledge, values, and culture. The Circle starts with a prayer, usually by the person convening the Circle [usually called the Circle Keeper], or by an Elder. A Talking Stick [or other sacred object i.e., eagle feather, fan, stone] is held by the person speaking and then passed to the left. The object held is often viewed as sacred. Participants can bring an object that is symbolic to them personally. Only the person holding the stick may speak, all others remain quiet and listen respectfully with open hearts and open minds.
This method of education instills respect for another’s viewpoint and encourages its participants to be open to other viewpoints by listening with their hearts while another person is speaking. They foster respect, model good listening skills, can settle disputes resolve conflicts, and build self-esteem. Talking Circles provide its participants with a structure that promotes self-exploration in an empathic and supportive atmosphere. The Circle is complete when all who wish to share have done so. What is shared and spoken in the Circle are held in confidence within the Circle. Talking Circles are conducted in a safe, nonhierarchical manner that includes all participants being given the opportunity to speak, without interruption.
Talking Circles can stimulate cultural awareness and foster respect for differences and facilitate group cohesion. Talking Circles encourage participants to treat one another with kindness and respect, hold one another’s stories in confidence, withhold judgment, and honor one another’s unique path to healing without advising, fixing, or rescuing. Being fully seen and listened to in a Circle has the potential to be deeply healing and helpful to another person.
Healing Circles are a traditional way to manage and resolve stress-related and other life problems. They are a useful adjunct to conventional health care. They are a culturally syntonic way to receive help from others within the community. They can potentially help to manage and resolve stress-related and other life problems. Participants are seen and heard by others within the Circle who hold their pain with a mutually respectful, non-judgment acceptance which can be healing and helpful to members of the Circle.
Participants enter and engage in the Circle with kindness, respect and listen with compassion and empathy. Honor is given to each participant’s unique ways of healing without presumption to advise or fix to try to save each other. All stories shared within the circle are held in confidence. Participants commit to listening with attention, speaking with intention, and tend to the well-being of the whole healing circle. With open minds, we work together to discover the best way to face challenges and obstacles to healing, alleviate suffering and deepen our capacity to heal. Participants in the Circle have an equal voice and are responsible for the leadership of their own healing. The use of the Circle is used in many different settings, including neighborhoods, schools, prisons, workplaces, families, and marriages. They are used for healing, conflict resolution, community building and reconciliation justice within the criminal justice system.
Talking is medicine.
Truth | Reconciliation | Honesty | Trust | Kindness | Compassion | Empathy | Cultural Education | Healing | Wholistic Healing | Cultural Healing | Collective learning | Collaboration | Community support