A KAIROS Blanket Exercise (KBE) Update
The KAIROS Blanket Exercise (KBE) has been a program of KAIROS for twenty-five years. In 1996, in response to the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the Aboriginal Rights Coalition (which became part of KAIROS in 2001) worked with Indigenous elders and educators to develop an experiential learning tool to narrate the historic and contemporary relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in a Canadian context. The KBE centers the stories of Indigenous Peoples to teach what most Canadians are never taught – Indigenous history, legacy and traditions, and the struggles, harm and injustices arising from colonization.
Over the years, the KBE grew in popularity. Even during the pandemic there was a high demand for the exercise and the Virtual KAIROS Blanket Exercise was created in order to continue to share this scripted experience of guiding participants through pre-contact to treaty-making, colonization, resistance and resilience that resulted in the country we today know as Canada.
While KAIROS celebrates the impact, reach and success of the KAIROS Blanket Exercise, we have also been met with deep concern about the program as well as several challenges with our administration of the KBE. We initially slowed the program down to assess these concerns and challenges. We quickly realized that a fuller pause was necessary to invest adequate time, resources and attention towards improving the program.
We know the importance of the KBE program. We also recognize that we are currently in a kairos moment, where the convergence of challenge and opportunity leads to transformational change. As previously announced, KAIROS, after more than 20 years of faithful action for social and ecological justice under the wing of the United Church of Canada (UCC), is taking the exciting step of restructuring to become a stand-alone organization with its own charitable status. We will remain a joint ecumenical venture supported by our member denominations and religious organizations but we are maturing. KAIROS is experiencing change! As such, we are taking great care in how we evolve to ensure we build upon our strong foundation and legacy.
The process of listening and discerning began with the KBE team. Our staff shared their experiences, challenges, hopes, highlights and more. The question of what it meant for the program to be Indigenous-led surfaced and as conversations continued, the question’s importance was emphasized. This information from staff along with information from a survey, emails, and conversations led to the development of a new KBE Framework.
Now, we are ready to share the proposed KBE Framework. The question of what it means for the program to be Indigenous-led has been heard. This proposed framework is our effort to improve the KBE program and it is a step towards developing a better framework for its administration and delivery. The proposal incorporates what we learned from those earlier conversations and now will undergo a round of consultation with this new outline as a guide. We will convene together in various ways with the KAIROS Indigenous Rights Circle, partners, facilitators and our broader Indigenous communities to further listen, discern, and develop the KBE program. Our goal is to ensure that the KBE program is sustainable and also continues to have the reach and impact to spur meaningful change and deepen our attention, responsiveness and commitment to the TRC: Calls to Action.
In the coming weeks, there will be opportunities for you to engage and contribute to refine the new KBE Framework. We look forward to this committed time together for deep listening, reflection, consultation and discernment.
KAIROS is committed to acts of decolonizing and this review of the KBE program is a thoughtful step in that direction.
If you have any questions, please direct them to the KBE Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aisha Francis, Executive Director