Wednesday, 5 February 2014

The Blanket Story

The Blanket Story

About two hundred years ago, white man had given smallpox-laden blankets to Mi’kmaq people in order that they would get the disease. Many people died. People say that the Mi’kmaq population from over 30,000 to just over 3,000 people. Several of my Mi’kmaq friends have told me this story; they see this incident as a deliberate act against the Mi’kmaq people – and it still hurts them to think of it. So, when some of the ladies from church missionary groups who pray for me asked me what they could do to bless the Mi’kmaq people, I thought and prayed about it and this idea came to mind:                                  
What if people made 'blankets of blessing' – that carry not a hidden killer virus, but prayers and good wishes?

The ladies groups responded to that story by making blankets filled with prayers, blessings, and love. When I told some of my Mi’kmaq friends that the ladies had made over 500 blankets for them, they were thrilled, especially when they found out that the women have prayed over these blankets for God to bless the Mi’kmaq. They want to come to Convention with me to receive them. The blankets were to be presented at an annual convention, and two Mi'kmaw friends came with me to officially receive the blankets on behalf of the Mi'kmaw people. At the ceremony, the ladies made a heap of blankets representing the original 'gift' and showing the overwhelming response of the women – over one thousand blankets were given that night! 

Once the blankets were delivered to Eskasoni, the Mi’kmaw women made a list of elders and sick people, choosing blankets for each individual, and delivered the blankets.
to Mi’kmaw people in the five communities on Cape Breton, and also to three communities in mainland Nova Scotia. People have really loved receiving their blankets, and are blessed by these gifts of love. A translator’s husband received a blanket and she says that he wraps himself in it whenever he watches television. If he moves from the couch to the chair, the blanket goes with him. My favorite story is from one of the communities on Cape Breton Island where there had been at least one suicide and a murder last winter, and people there were so discouraged. One woman said, “Please send us the blankets; we need them so much. No one is talking to one another, and people go around with a scowl on their face.” Well, about two weeks after the blankets were delivered there, she reported, “The community has been transformed - people are smiling again and there is a whole different atmosphere!" Praise God!There are only a few left to deliver now.  

The thing that has touched me the most in this whole blanket endeavor is the love that the women have poured into the blankets as they made them, love that is now being received by the Mi’kmaq. It truly has been a work of God. I am happy to have been able to ‘ride along,’ carried by this work of healing and reconciliation.