A ceremony was held Monday, November 2nd at Fanningbank, the Lieutenant Governor's official residence, as the Eagle Feather RCMP/MCPEI Indigenous Justice Program initiative was extended as an option to swear legal oaths.
Prince Edward Island RCMP Commanding Officer, Chief Superintendent Jennifer Ebert joined Her Honour, Antoinette Perry, along with Senator Brian Francis, the Honourable Bloyce Thompson, Minister of Justice and Public Safety, Chief Darlene Bernard of Lennox Island First Nation, Chief Junior Gould of Abegweit First Nation, Keptin Jimmy Bernard and RCMP Detachment Commanders/Supervisors in a special ceremony where RCMP Chief Superintendent Ebert and the commanders and supervisors were presented with Eagle Feathers for their detachment areas.
The Eagle Feather initiative provides an opportunity for the Eagle Feather is to be used in the same way as a Bible or affirmation and may also be offered as a comfort for a client when interacting with employees at a detachment. All clients including victims, witnesses and police officers will have the option to swear legal oaths on an Eagle Feather. Following today's ceremony, all RCMP detachments in P.E.I. will have an Eagle Feather available.
Earlier in the day, Keptin Bernard cleansed the Eagle Feathers through a smudging ceremony. At the afternoon event, Chief Bernard provided an explanation of the significance of the Eagle Feather, and Chief Gould offered a prayer. Both chiefs presented Chief Superintendent Ebert and each of the commanders and supervisors with the Eagle Feathers to take back to their respective detachments.
Commanding Officer, Chief Superintendent Ebert noted, "Having Eagle Feathers available at detachments across the Island is an important step in the reconciliation efforts we are engaged in with our Indigenous communities on P.E.I. I am very proud to be able to accept and distribute the feathers to our detachments to further the cultural awareness for officers and to provide as a familiar instrument in the justice system."
"We are proud to partner with the RCMP in this initiative which will see the Eagle Feather available in all Island RCMP detachments," said Chief Darlene Bernard. "The Eagle Feather honours our culture and accepts our customs and traditions. It has not always been an easy road and there have been struggles and challenges in our relationship. Today is a significant step moving forward together and it solidifies our ongoing collaboration in reconciliation efforts and strengthens our partnership."
"As of today, all RCMP detachments will have an Eagle Feather," said Chief Junior Gould. "This means that there is a willingness to acknowledge and support our culture and to offer the feather to individuals who may find strength, comfort and courage when swearing or affirming legal oaths."
Eagle Feather background:
- When a client enters a detachment to provide a statement, they will be given three options; to swear on a Bible, affirm or affirm with an Eagle Feather.
- The Eagle Feather may also be offered as a comfort for a client when interacting with employees at the detachment.
- The Eagle Feather can be used by all citizens. Should the client wish to use the Eagle Feather, it would be held by the client while providing their evidence or statement.
Shown in photo, left to right: Minister Bloyce Thompson, PEI RCMP Commanding Officer Chief Superintendent Jennifer Ebert, Chief Darlene Bernard, Her Excellency Lieutenant Governor Antoinette Perry, Chief Junior Gould and Senator Brian Francis