A first in Canada for the RCMP, the Nova Scotia RCMP announced today that all clients including victims, witnesses and police officers will now have the option to swear legal oaths on an eagle feather.
The eagle feather will 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.
Earlier today, a ceremony was held at the Nova Scotia RCMP Headquarters where A/Commr. Brian Brennan, Commanding Officer of the Nova Scotia RCMP, was joined by His Honour Arthur J. LeBlanc, ONS, QC, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, Leroy Denny on behalf of the Assembly of First Nations Chief, and the Honourable Mark Furey, Minister of Justice and Attorney General for Nova Scotia to commemorate this historic first for the RCMP.
“The unveiling of the eagle feather and the smudging ceremony are significant steps on the road to reconciliation where we recognize the great importance of Indigenous history, culture and spirituality,” said Lt.-Gov. Arthur LeBlanc. “The use of the eagle feather in law enforcement is indeed a significant step.”
As part of the ceremony, Clifford Paul of Membertou presented on the significance of the eagle feather.
Elder Jane Abram of Millbrook First Nations cleansed the eagle feathers through a smudging ceremony and Keptin Donald Julien, Executive Director, Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq offered a blessing.
The eagle feathers were then distributed to detachment commanders throughout the province whose areas include Indigenous communities.
The Mi’kmaq Honour Song closed the ceremony.
“The eagle feather is a powerful symbol and reflects the spirituality and tradition of the Mi’kmaw people,” said Mark Furey, Minister of Justice and Attorney General.
“I believe the use of the eagle feather is an important step forward in helping our justice system be more responsive and sensitive to Indigenous cultures.”
A/Commr. Brian Brennan, Commanding Officer of the Nova Scotia RCMP adds “Today is a historical day for the Nova Scotia RCMP and a wonderful way to conclude Mi’kmaq history month.
I am honoured to introduce the use of the eagle feather as part of our processes in Nova Scotia because it reflects our continued commitment to create a more inclusive and relevant justice system for Indigenous people.”
Eagle feather background:
- After today,when a client enters a detachment (whose area includes an Indigenous community – listed below) to provide a statement, they will now 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.
- Eagle feathers will be rolled out to all Nova Scotia RCMP detachments in early 2018.Until then, eagle feathers can be accessed at the detachments that serve the following communities:
o Acadia, Annapolis Valley, Bear River, Eskasoni, Glooscap, Indian Brook, Millbrook, Paq’tnkek, Pictou Landing, Potlotek, Wagmatcook and Waycobah.
Source: Media Release