In what is being described as a first for the RCMP, the Mounties in Nova Scotia are now offering victims, witnesses and police officers the option to swear legal oaths on an eagle feather, instead of using a Bible or offering an affirmation.
The RCMP say the eagle feather will be used in the same way as a Bible or affirmation, and may also be offered as a source of comfort at local detachments.
A special smudging ceremony was held Monday at Nova Scotia RCMP Headquarters, where the province’s lieutenant governor, Arthur LeBlanc, was joined by provincial Justice Minister Mark Furey and Chief Leroy Denny, on behalf of the Assembly of First Nations.
As part of the ceremony, Indigenous elder Jane Abram of Millbrook First Nations cleansed eagle feathers through a smudging ceremony, and Keptin Donald Julien, executive director of the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq, offered a blessing.
LeBlanc said the use of eagle feathers marks a significant step toward reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.
As the ceremony concluded, eagle feathers were distributed to detachment commanders throughout the province.
“The eagle feather is a powerful symbol and reflects the spirituality and tradition of the Mi’kmaq people,” Furey said in a statement. “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.”
The Canadian Press