UBC Orthopaedics Staff and Residents Embrace the KIAROS Blanket Exercise

The UBC Department of Orthopaedics’ residents, administrative staff, along with several faculty members, recently engaged in the KIAROS Blanket Exercise, an immersive experience rooted in Indigenous methodologies. Organized by Dr. Bonita Sawatzky, UBC Orthopaedics Associate Professor and READI Director, this exercise aimed to deepen understanding of the shared history of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada, covering pre-contact, treaty-making, colonization, and resistance. Participants stepped onto blankets symbolizing the land, taking on the roles of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. The emotional and intellectual engagement fostered empathy and served as a powerful educational tool.

The outcomes of the Blanket Exercise extended beyond intellectual understanding, as Patryk Krolikowski, the UBC Orthopaedics Administrative Coordinator, reflects, “many of us may already have the knowledge shared as part of this activity, but it goes beyond the superficiality of intellectual understanding. It allows one to identify with the local tribes emotionally and visualize what it was like to live through colonization from the Indigenous point of view. It was a very touching, transformative experience.”

The active involvement of UBC Orthopaedics residents in the KIAROS Blanket Exercise underscores the vital role trainees play in shaping the future of healthcare. Recognizing the significance of empathy and cultural understanding in patient care, the Department emphasizes the importance of involving residents in such transformative experiences. Trainees are not just recipients of knowledge but active contributors to creating a healthcare community that values diverse perspectives, contributing to the overarching goal of “mobility for all.” Through events like these, residents become ambassadors of change, embodying the Department’s commitment to creating a more empathetic and inclusive healthcare environment.

Learn more: Developed in collaboration with Indigenous Elders, Knowledge Keepers and educators, the KAIROS Blanket Exercise (KBE) is an interactive and experiential teaching tool that explores the historic and contemporary relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in the land we now know as Canada. Visit www.kairosblanketexercise.org to learn more about this program and how to participate in a session.

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