A group of students and educators from the Treaty Education Alliance from Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan, Canada, visited Osseo Area Schools’ district office on May 25.
Duane Wardally, Director of Educational Equity, highlighted that the visit was the first of many opportunities for the district to center exchange, partnership and our deep commitment to centering our Indigenous scholars, families and community.
During their visit, the group took part in an activity with the Department of Educational Equity, including the American Indian Education team, called the Kairo Blanket Exercise. This involved members from the Treaty Education Alliance reading a script aloud while standing on blankets. These blankets were either folded into smaller squares, or unfolded into larger ones based on the script that described Canada’s history. It was a metaphor that spoke to human rights that were either forcefully removed from Indigenous Canadians, or when they fought and influenced policy, legal and political change to expand human rights.
The script centered the story of Indigenous Canadians and how they were forced to assimilate to European culture and traditions; in addition, the exercise shared the history and legacy of forced attendance at government boarding schools, where children were forcefully removed from their families; and, the Sixties Scoop, where the Canadian child welfare system removed thousands of Indigenous children from their homes to be raised in foster care or adopted. Finally, it showed how tribal lands and schools continue to be underfunded today.