Blanket Resistance

This week at Meet Me @ the Bell Tower, we had an event called the Blanket Exercise. It was presented by the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue and KAIROS – Winnipeg Chapter was in partnership with the Indigenous Family Centre. We knew that the topic was colonization and were prepared to deal with a heavy topic, one we deal with on a regular basis but this time we were experiencing a new activity. We shared some information online before the event, but many people do not check our Facebook page and simply come to the Bell Tower each week to visit with the regulars (Bell Tower family), ring the bell and belong. This week we were happy to welcome many new guests to the bell tower as you can see in the group photo of the night (that we took once we went back inside) [another AYO Shout out to Greg Littlejohn, our resident photographer for capturing the below image]

blanket exercise at the bell tower

It was a pretty intense exercise. Many people learned a lot about history. The guest facilitators did a good job handling the bell tower. The exercise called for some interesting activities to take place. The blankets represented the land, so everyone walked on the blankets (no shoes in the family centre please) as the facilitators read out various scripts. Going throughout time, starting with first contact with Europeans in the 1500s, the treaties in the 1700s, the Indian Act, Residential Schools and broken promises. Throughout the exercise, I was so proud of members of the Bell Tower family for being their usual rowdy selves and not cooperating with the rules of the game as history was read out to us. I truly believe that the actions displayed by members of our family throughout this activity were very much representative of the tenacity and determination of our communities – since forever.

  • Scripts corrected – Throughout the exercise we were more than vocal when we heard parts of history that were incomplete in their delivery. We were also honest and vocal when reading scripts ourselves when we felt like additional information was required.
  • Blankets unkicked – The facilitator was required to go around and remove blankets as the script went on and many were offended by the kicking of the blankets, since they represented the land. The offensiveness was likely intentional and by design, but it didn’t stop us from going behind the facilitator and unkicking the corners of our blankets behind them. Good job guys.
  • “Don’t let go” – there was a part where some of us, including me, represented the children who were taken away to residential schools. We were taken to a blanket separated from the rest of the group. At one point were brought back to participants who were holding hands in the circle, representing our home communities. When the facilitator told the participants to let go of their hands, to represent the challenges in the communities, many of the bell tower said ‘don’t let go’ and refused to do so. They resisted, everyone witnessed that, and I believe that THAT was  a true part of history.
  • Breaking out of residential school – The narrator read on, until he got to the 2008 apology by Stephen Harper (which we corrected details about, that the speaker of the house was not sitting in the chair at the time of the apology, as he must be when laws are passed). However, some of us were still standing on the ‘residential school blanket’. I asked if we could leave, since the residential schools were closed in 1996, and he said he would get to us…which he didn’t. When he got to the sharing circle part of the script, me and the other residential school blanket students broke out of residential school and sat back with the rest of the circle.
  • Put the blankets back – After a couple people shared, one of our regulars said they didn’t want to continue with the exercise until we all put the blankets back. He was very articulate in stating, after the few seconds it took to put all the blankets back on the floor he said ‘obviously its gonna take more than 45 seconds to fix what has happened here, but this is where we need to go’. The facilitators told me that they don’t encourage groups to put the land back because they don’t wanna let non-indigenous participants ‘off the hook’ and I can respect that. But I also love how at the Bell Tower we finish our evening with hope….always.

These are some examples that made me so proud of the way our community is healing. At the end of the night, many of our regulars addressed their own feelings about the exercise, sharing freely how they felt, but in usual bell tower style, sharing their recommendations on how future BEs could be facilitated in a more respectful and sensitive way.  Working cooperatively with groups and learning together is part of why MM@BT exists. I am also happy to report that I am in email connection with the folks who deliver the blanket exercise and will continue to collect feedback from our bell tower participants and share it with all parties involved. Thank you all for your beautiful blanket resistance – we are strong – we are healing. [YOU CAN SEE VIDEOS OF THE SCRIPTS BEING READ OUT ON MM@BT F.B. PAGE thanks to @WCDanyting for capturing them]

Forever resistant,

MC

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MTS Future First Community Grants

MTS now accepting applications for

Future First Community grants

Ten $10,000 awards to be presented in May 2014

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MTS is very pleased to invite youth-serving organizations in Manitoba to apply for one of ten MTS Future First community grants. These grants form part of MTS’s new community investment program – Future First:  Connecting Today’s Youth to Tomorrow.  The objective of our program is to support organizations like yours working to remove barriers to success and help our young people achieve their full potential.

For the inaugural year of the Future First Community grants, MTS will present a total of ten $10,000 grants to organizations focused on bettering the lives of Manitoba’s young people.

To be considered for a Future First community grant, interested organizations are invited to submit an application form that clearly identifies how the program or project achieves at least one of the following results for Manitoba youth under age 24: Enhance knowledge, skills and/or leadership capabilities Develop/acquire skills to make healthy and positive life choices
Increase capacity to cope with life’s challenges
The deadline to apply is March 30, 2014.  We look forward to awarding the first Future First community grants at a special Manitoba Day celebration in May.

For details about the application process and criteria, please visit http://www.mts.ca/futurefirst. You can also contact our Community Investment and Communications Officer, Erin Bartlett for more information at futurefirst@mts.ca or by phone at (204) 941-7378.   And keep in touch by following us on Facebook and Twitter!

Best regards,

Roslyn Dally

Manager, Community Investment & Employee Volunteerism

MTS

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Note from MC: I bumped into some MTS awesomeness (feat Maxine Peters) recently at Count Me In Winnipeg where they shared more jnfo about Future First & also had this cool photo booth!

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Friendships Best Dance Crew 2014

You’re Invited!

Indian & Metis Friendship Centre’s Youth Advisory council is working alongside many community partners to bring you FRIENDSHIPS BEST Dance Crew 2014! Featuring a fierce competition between local dance groups (All dance styles are invited) where one group will be crowned the best! Sharing the stage alongside Canada’s Got Talent winner’s Sagkeengs Finest & the one and only Ojibway Elvis, youth between 10 & 30 are encouraged to register with Kerri by the deadline of March 14th, 2014 by calling Kerri @ (204)586-8441.

friendships best BANNER 2014

March 20th, 2014 from 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm @ 45 Robinson St.
Dance Crews Aged 10-30
Group Registration Deadline March 13th, 2014
$ 20.00 entry fee per group ** Minimum of 3 to a group ** Admission $5.00 @ the door ** Guest Judges!!**

** SPECIAL GUESTS – Sagkeengs Finest & Ojibway Elvis **

** DOOR PRIZES! **

Winners are to hold name “Friendships Best Dance Crew” for 1 full year!
Performance IMFC National Aboriginal Day Pow Wow
Cash Prizes

For more details, or to register please phone the Indian & Metis Friendship Centre for Kerri @ 204-586-8441

This event was created by the Youth Advisory Committee, come out and support community events for youth by youth!

[CLICK HERE FOR THE FACEBOOK EVENT – FEEL FREE TO SHARE THE POSTERS & BANNERS!!]

friendships best poster

Check out #AYOlanguage on Tuesdays – Now available in Cree!

On Tuesday March 11th @ Neechi Commons, you are invited to join us for AYO’s first Lanuage Hour focusing on the CREE Language. Then, the following Tuesday we continue the Anishinabe #AYOlanuage with Agnes Catcheway once again at Neechi Niche in Neechi Commons at 4pm (865 Main Street)

Every Tuesday let us continue to revitalize Cree & Anishinabe (We are inviting all language speakers to come forward and mentor youth)

AYOlanguage Poster March 11 and 18

 

For direct links to the Facebook events check out www.AYOmovement.com

PS – you can check out MC & Agnes on CTV Morning Live (Tues MArch 4, 2014) by CLICKING HERE

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