An emotional event looked to create awareness this past weekend.
The NWT Wellness Society hosted a Reconciliation workshop on Saturday at the Explorer Hotel.
Lila Erasmus helped run the event. She said it was an intense experience for everyone involved.
“It was a really powerful morning,” said Erasmus. “We went through our Blanket Exercise and people were crying and just – just really understanding of the reason why this is necessary.”
The Blanket Exercise consists of putting blankets on the ground to represent regions and trading centres. The people taking part in the exercise were given items to trade, as well as fake babies.
The group would go through the exercise trading and bartering, only to have their blankets (land) and items taken from them. Their babies were even ripped away from them.
Erasmus says the exercise is key in the Reconciliation process.
“We used to call North America ‘Turtle Island’. Then our families were torn apart and these borders were created; lines were drawn. Families were literally cut down the middle and babies were taken.”
She added: “When it comes to Truth and Reconciliation, we’re moving towards reconciling. Now, it’s just about creating awareness and working towards repairing lives and cultures. People forget, or don’t know, this was still happening within one or two generations ago. My parents went to residential schools.”
Sitting outside after the event, people had a new look on their faces. The process of understanding is laying its seeds.
“We’re working on making this something that everyone focuses on,” exclaimed Erasmus. “It’s not just an Indigenous problem. Everyone should be aware of the things that people had to face during these times.“