Mapping the Ground We Stand On is a physical, interactive workshop that aims to understand the impact of colonialism on Indigenous populations by inviting participants to “walk on” to a map of Canada, both literally and figuratively.
In June 2019, nine volunteers from across Canada were trained as Mapping Exercise facilitators and armed with giant floor maps of Canada (sharing four maps between them). In the ensuing months, they delivered 18 workshops in their respective Ecclesiastical provinces, including approximately 385 participants.
Then in March 2020, the pandemic pressed pause on in-person gathering.
Part of the effectiveness of the Mapping Exercise is hearing the names of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people being read aloud, and then seeing the names cover the map of Canada, the northern part of Turtle Island. In many instances, the exercise has elicited powerful emotional responses from participants. When the facilitators met via Zoom in late 2020 to discuss online delivery of the Mapping Exercise, they agreed it would be impossible to replicate that visceral feeling on Zoom.
But as the pandemic wore on into 2021, so too did the need for greater understanding and reconciliation. The facilitators’ commitment to promoting truth and reconciliation continued to burn and the group encouraged PWRDF staff to look again at a virtual workshop. “We realized we needed to create a virtual version for groups to use now, and that could complement the in-person workshop down the road, when pandemic restrictions lifted,” says Suzanne Rumsey, PWRDF Public Engagement Program Coordinator and co-creator of the Mapping Exercise.