On day three, we all had the amazing opportunity to experience “The Blanket Game” lead by the elders from VIU (Vancouver Island University) located in Nanaimo. This game was about the Indigenous people from Canada, their land and how it was taken from them by the government. For me, this was very emotional and I could tell all the people around me were experiencing a variety of emotions from anger to pure sadness. Being a part of Tla’amin Nation and doing this exercise hit me hard. Hearing all the horrible abuse and discrimination that happened in my home, my community was life-changing. Not knowing about my ancestry until later in my life has lead my lack of knowledge about what happened to the indigenous people of my Nation. I have heard bits and pieces of peoples stories about residential schools, but I have never experienced feeling the emotions firsthand what this must have been like for my people.
After the exercise, we gathered in a circle and talked not only about the exercise, but also about past experiences of things such as abuse and discrimination. This hit me hard. I was overwhelmed by the emotions that I felt during this sharing activity. Ranging from anxiety and sorrow, to anger and bitterness. I felt guilty for not knowing about how my people were treated sooner and about how other people still face similar issues to this day. Although residential schools are no longer a “thing”, there are still many of the values that residential school held in this school system today. Bullying and discrimination based on ethnic background and skin color is still present along with other types of racism. I am shocked that the whole group was so open with their past and trusting. It just proves that everyone has a past that you do not know about. I felt that the exercise helped us grow closer as a group by trusting each other.
Today, my roommate (and friend) Violet and I started off our day by going for a run at 6:00am. We ran a mile around the track feeling out of breath yet rejuvenated. It got our day off to a fresh, new start and woke us up.
One event that stuck out for me today was Aztec dancing. I enjoyed every moment of this activity and would love to learn some of my own Nations cultural dances. Coyo took the time to put on his traditional regalia and help show us how to dance. These cultural dances made me appreciate all of us together. Although we are all from different cultural backgrounds (and for me continents), the unity that we formed was amazing. Dancing in a circle with everyone and hearing the beat of the drums through my own ears rather than through a computer screen made me appreciate being able to take part in this program; meeting new people.