Indigenous perspectives, history highlighted as part of MITT Orientation
September 06, 2017
Smudging ceremony & Blanket Exercise offer international students at the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology (MITT) important lessons on the history of Canada’s first people and the worldviews of their Indigenous classmates
Some of the most important lessons taught at college have less to do with curriculum and more to do with teaching diverse groups of students about one another. That is why MITT has incorporated Indigenous cultural perspectives into the Introduction to College and Work program it provides to international students prior to commencement of their technical or trades programs.
International students enrolled at MITT took part in a traditional Smudging Ceremony before participating in the Blanket Exercise. Smudging, they learned, cleanses the soul of negative thoughts about a person or place. While the Blanket Exercise – as the name suggests – uses richly decorated blankets placed on a floor, as well as a narrator, to guide participants through an experiential history of Canada. Students began by standing on the blankets as First Peoples of Turtle Island (North America) and then experience the arrival of Europeans as well as some of the negative effects this contact has caused for Canada’s First Peoples for generations since.
The goal of the event was to provide students with a greater understanding of Canada’s Indigenous Peoples, why reconciliation is so important to Canada’s way forward, and how the country is trying to move away from a dark chapter of its past and toward a shared, bright future for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.