Manitoba 150 is offering 50 blanket exercises across the province, bringing an opportunity to share truth from Indigenous culture and past to all Manitobans.
"As a province, it is important that we embrace every opportunity to further enrich the ongoing dialogue between Indigenous Peoples and all Manitobans to move forward on the path to reconciliation," says Monique LaCoste and Stuart Murray, co-Chairs of Manitoba 150.
The Blanket Exercise program will be made available for members of The Manitoba Chamber of Commerce, The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, and the Conseil Jeunesse Provincial. The three organizations have partnered together with Manitoba 150 to offer the exercises.
"The Blanket Exercise was developed by KAIROS in collaboration with Indigenous elders, knowledge keepers, and educators. They did it in terms of an opportunity so we can engage with communities for truth-sharing, dialogue, and what have been the effects of colonization on Indigenous people and culture," says Sky Bridges, a board member of Manitoba 150 Host Committee Inc.
Bridges has been through the blanket exercise and says it an engaging, learning experience.
"It absolutely hits the mark in terms of helping people to really go through that truth part, in terms of truth and reconciliation. I encourage Manitobans to sign up for this exercise."
The announcement of the 50 virtual Blanket Exercises was made on June 21, which is also National Indigenous Peoples Day. Companies can sign up for one of the events and they will be held on September 30, Orange Shirt Day.
"The KAIROS Blanket Exercise covers more than 500 years in an experiential workshop that aims to foster understanding about our shared history as Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples. Everyone is actively involved as they use specific background icons that represent the various historical and current experiences of First Nations, Inuit and later Métis Peoples," Manitoba 150 says in their media announcement.
It was an Indigenous group of people that brought Manitoba into confederation.
"Manitoba in terms of entering confederation, what is quite unique about our province and the only province is it was created through the Métis People, Louis Riel, and through extension the community," says Bridges.
Through events like the blanket exercise or simply learning more about Indigenous culture, Bridges hopes people hear about things like the residential schools as well as rich Indigenous culture.
"Canadians should be on that journey of fully understanding the story of the First Nations and Metis People who were here. Understanding that history is going to depend on where you are in the country. The Indigenous culture is rich and has something so unique about it," he says.
When it comes to celebrating the nation, Bridges offers a suggestion for July 1.
"This Canada Day, I would encourage everyone to take some time to learn more about the history of Indigenous people and land acknowledgement. Take your shoes and socks off, stand on that land, and wherever you are, whatever the land acknowledgement is, say 'I'm on Treaty 1, the homeland of the Metis Nation' and you'll feel a different kind of connection."