Setting up the room
To encourage a sense of play, there must be a playing space:
“isolated, hedged round, hallowed, within which special rules obtain.”
Inspiration from Dutch cultural historian Johan Huizinga in his book, Homo Ludens (1955)
In order to nurture a willingness among participants to risk stepping outside of their comfort zones when asked to perform their learning with and for each other, consider what you can do to temporarily turn a classroom or meeting area into something special. It may be as simple as reconfiguring the customary arrangement of furniture or adding some decorative elements to create an environment that will subtly shift the surroundings into a place where the activity participants feel they will be experiencing something out of the ordinary here.
We found that three volunteer facilitators were enough to comfortably guide groups of 20 participants at a time.
You will want to establish a clearly defined “entrance” into the first station, and an indication that there is a path the participants will follow as they move through each of the subsequent stations. As part of our “decoration” at the entrance, we posted a large sign welcoming visitors in many languages, and a sign with the name of the activity written in a brush font.
PDFs of both signs can be found in the HANDOUTS and SIGNS section.
From the opening stages of our planning process, we worked in partnership with the Heron Peoples Circle of Old Ones/Elders at Royal Roads University, inviting their consultation and insights. During the days of the event, some were present throughout the activity to offer support, guidance, and wisdom in various capacities, including a traditional welcoming greeting either in person or played from a recording. At the final station, Shirley Alphonse invited participants to engage in a smudging ceremony, if any were interested in experiencing it. She offered this smudging ceremony as an immediate way to support people who may have been emotionally affected by the Walk With Me experience
As part of honouring the effort and emotional labour that members of the Heron People Circle provided us all during the event, we took care to ensure that members of the Heron Peoples Circle were well looked after and provided with a place for rest and nutrition. Our catering team worked with us to bring food and beverages into a room adjacent to the event where food is typically not permitted. This may seem like a small detail, but these details became essential to walking the talk of our work together. We also had a break room set up for volunteers where they could relax and enjoy a snack or beverage (or take a lunch) between groups. For those wishing to reproduce the Walk With Me experience in other contexts, it will be important to follow local protocols and build upon existing relationships with Old Ones and Elders who may be interested in supporting the work in various capacities.
Needs for the first station: Grounding in Place
Maps: We displayed various maps of the province of BC, the entire breadth of Canada, and the continent of North America, all of which included Indigenous place names. To source maps, visit the following websites:
Tribal Nations Maps sells a 45 inch by 55 inch wall map. It's expensive at between $200-$300 US, but for those who see the value in the investment, it is a beautiful and captivating teaching resource:
For those who are in BC, The First Peoples’ Cultural Council (FPCC) offers a website with a beautiful cultural map of First Peoples territories and languages in the region that was collectively developed with support from a wide range of contributors.
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation offers an online interactive map showing the locations and information about Residential Schools of Canada. https://nctr.ca/records/view-your-records/archival-map/
Canada.ca offers several interactive maps of Indigenous peoples and lands on Turtle Island
Canadian Geographic offers many educational resources, including a free downloadable tiled map featuring historical treaties and land claims, the distribution of Indigenous language families, the locations of reserves and band councils, the formers sites of residential schools, and more. By printing the 64 individual "tiles" one can assemble them into a single large map measuring 2.7 metres by 2 metres (105 inches by 78 inches).
Small stickers or post-its: Participants are invited to place these on the map to identify where they came from, or currently live.
An iPad or computer loaded with the app, Native Land
(available at https://native-land.ca/ and https://native-land.ca/resources/mobile-app/). A volunteer assists participants to enter the location of their birthplace or current residence; the app shows the Indigenous name of that area.
Blank Name badges: Participants may write down the place name(s) that resonate with them (where they came from, or currently live or work) and wear the badge during the activity.
Lapel buttons: Additionally, as our project was based on the campus of Royal Roads University, we had a basket of ready-made lapel buttons for anyone to wear during the activity and take with them as a keepsake afterwards.
Locating yourself: this sign is posted alongside the maps in the first station.
A PDF of this sign can be found in the HANDOUTS and SIGNS section.
Needs for the second station: Connecting with Stories
Station 2 is simply a table laid out with an array of photocopies of short readings for the participants to peruse as they look for a title or author that intrigues them. There on the table, workshop participants will also find a sign with instructions on what they are asked to do.
A printable PDF of the "Invitation sign" and a list of references for readings we used can be found in the READINGS section.
Needs for the third station: Embodying the Stories
Station 3 is where the participants can comfortably sit in groups of three or four to read the selection they’ve chosen and talk about it with each other. Along with blank paper and coloured markers, pens or crayons used for drawing, “scripting” or making notes, each station also has two handouts: Reflecting on the reading, and Be Creative! We prepared two-sided photocopies with each handout on either side of the page. Printable PDFs of the handouts can be found in the HANDOUTS and SIGNS section. This station is also where each group will be collectively creating their performative responses to the readings, so it is important to have some physical distance between the different clusters of chairs, including some open floor space to allow them a relatively “private” space in which to craft their performances.
Needs for the fourth station: Performing Our Empathetic Response to the Stories
Station 4 requires an area in the room that will allow for all the participants to gather around to see and hear each individual group as they perform. If the chairs or the seating on the ground can be arranged in a semi-circle, this configuration encourages comments and dialogue among the entire group much more effectively than if everyone is sitting in rows, one behind the other.
Needs for the fifth station: Closure, Reflections, and Looking Forward
Station 5 is the learning equivalent of “exiting through the gift shop.” In place of souvenirs to buy, participants have an opportunity to look through posters with suggestions for specific actions one can take to build respectful, sustainable meaningful relationships and friendships with Indigenous people and their communities, and to support aspirations for social justice.
Printable PDFs of the posters can be found in the HANDOUTS and SIGNS section. Of course, you may have access to similar educational material already, and can make them available here. Additionally, We also set up tables with a wide array of books, primarily by Indigenous authors, who have written about the legacy of colonialism. Books may be borrowed from a library for display on tables at this station during the activity. We placed notepads and pens on the tables and encouraged participants to jot down (or photograph) book titles and authors that intrigued them so that in the days and weeks ahead they could seek out copies to read at bookstores and libraries. Alternatively, copies of a bibliography of books could be posted or offered as a gift to take away.
As mentioned previously, Shirley Alphonse invited those who were interested to take part in a smudging ceremony before they left.
Lastly, for our events, participants filled out feedback forms and made their way out the exit, leaving the facilitators time for a short break before the next scheduled group arrived at the entrance door. A sample of our feedback form is available in the HANDOUTS section.