Magazine article Anglican Journal

RCMP Academy Adopts Blanket Exercise

Magazine article Anglican Journal

RCMP Academy Adopts Blanket Exercise

Article excerpt

The training of all RCMP cadets in Canada will now feature the Blanket Exercise, a teaching tool in Indigenous history developed by ecumenical social justice group KAIROS Canada, the RCMP announced in December 2017.

The RCMP said it had decided to bring the exercise into the training program used at its academy in Regina "in the spirit of encouraging reconciliation with Indigenous peoples." The exercise will be used as part of the academy's training module on missing persons, and will be led, the RCMP said, by instructors at the academy, overseen by a "knowledge keeper," an Indigenous elder from Saskatchewan.

"We're always looking for new and innovative ways to deliver material that we have in our program, and then we sometimes add and change to the material that exists," Nathalie Fehr, curriculum designer at the academy, said in an interview with the Anglican Journal. "We felt that the Blanket Exercise would be a great experiential exercise, giving the cadets some Indigenous history while understanding how it impacts the communities we serve."

Staff at the RCMP academy first learned about the exercise through news coverage of it, Fehr said. She participated in the exercise herself and, impressed, proposed it to the academy, which accepted the idea.

The exercise has participants, roleplaying as Indigenous people, stand on blankets representing their land and then walk through various developments in Canadian Indigenous history, as blankets are progressively removed. Its handson nature makes it different from how Indigenous history has previously been taught at the academy, she said.

"Previously in the program, we had historical facts that were sitting in a PowerPoint presentation," she said. "This is an experience, and it's a way of learning and [retaining] some of the material that we had presented in a different way in the past."

Cadets who graduate from the training they receive at the academy are normally hired into the RCMP. The police force hopes that officers trained with the Blanket Exercise will be better prepared to deal with situations involving Indigenous people and communities because they will have a deeper understanding of how they have been shaped by their history, Fehr said.

KAIROS Canada executive director Jennifer Henry said she was very pleased with the RCMP's decision. …

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