Eagle feather given to RCMP

The eagle feather is presented to RCMP. Left-right are: RCMP Insp. Blake Ward; the Friendship Centre’s Kelly Chalifoux; RCMP Chief Supt., Western Alberta District, Rhonda Blackmore; Sucker Creek’s April Willier, who did the beadwork on the feather; the Friendship Centre’s Brad Cunningham; and High Prairie RCMP S/Sgt. Warren Wright.

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

The High Prairie RCMP detachment now offers the eagle feather as a way to swear in statements.

In a ceremony at the High Prairie Native Friendship Centre Nov. 3, the local detachment officially received the eagle feather.

Called the Eagle Feather Protocol [Initiative], the eagle feather is used in the same way as the Bible for affirmation.

Indigenous spirituality believes there is a direct connection between the eagle and the creator. The eagle symbolizes respect, honour, humility, truth, love, strength, courage and wisdom, and is considered sacred because it flies the highest and closest to the Creator.

Tradition is respected before an eagle feather is sent to the RCMP.

First, the eagle feather is cleansed during a smudging ceremony led by an Elder. To honour the eagle feather, it is placed in a red case for safe storage. The case symbolizes protection and healing, and will include the eagle feather, a copy of the protocol, and department of Natural Resources permit.

However, the eagle feather given to the High Prairie detachment included another special local flavour. At the suggestion of the Friendship Centre, Sucker Creek’s April Willier included some special beadwork on the feather.

Willier says the seven rows of each colour represent each of the medicine wheel’s colours: white, red, yellow and black.

And the 13 beads represent each of the 13 levels of the RCMP, with the red and white representing Canada.

Once the eagle feather arrives at the detachment, it must be stored in a safe and secure location. All employees have access to the eagle feather and RCMP division policy related to its use.

Now, when a client enters the detachment to provide a statement, they have three options: swear on a Bible, affirm, or affirm with an eagle feather.

The eagle feather may also be offered as comfort for a client when interacting with employees at the detachment.

Once completed, the eagle feather is placed back in the case and returned to safe storage.

If by chance the eagle feather is exposed to drugs and/or alcohol, it should be cleansed in a smudging ceremony by an Elder. Otherwise, it should still be smudged once a year.

The Eagle Feather Initiative is part of the RCMP’s commitment to create a more inclusive justice system for Indigenous people.

Curtis Zablocki, Deputy Commissioner, Commanding Officer, RCMP “K” Division, supports the initiative.

“I am proud to announce the implementation of the Eagle Feather Protocol [Initiative] for the Indigenous communities we serve across Alberta.

“I can’t think of a better way to contribute to, and reflect on, what our shared history with Indigenous peoples means and our collective role in reconciliation.

“The RCMP is committed to implementing the calls-to-action recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.”

The initiative began in 2018. Zablocki says efforts are being made to have the eagle feather available in all detachments.

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