South Peace News
An eagle feather to honour the Indigenous people was presented to High Prairie provincial court during a brief ceremony June 25.
Swan River First Nation Elder Dustin Twin presented the feather to Judge D.R. Shynkar.
“The eagle feather is symbolic in our culture, it represents strength and honesty,” Twin says.
“It is very well respected by our people.”
When giving witness in a trial, people now have the option to swear an oath on the feather or the Bible.
“It is my hope that it will help Indigenous people and anyone else that may want to use the feather,” Twin says.
Judge Shynkar gratefully received the valued symbol.
“We accept this eagle feather, blessed for its use in this court,” Shynkar says.
“We will keep it in the spirit in which it has been presented and we will treat it in the traditions of the Indigenous peoples of this land.”
He says Twin made the request through Dale Cox, chief of police of Lakeshore Regional Police Service based in Driftpile, who contacted Slave Lake region Senior Judge G.W. Paul.
“The request was that the court include in its formal processes a means by which Indigenous persons who believe in the traditions of their people may take an oath to tell the truth in this court using an eagle feather, an item of significant importance in their lives,” Judge Shynkar says.
“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada in its report ‘Calls to Action’ recommends that in all we do, we seek to recognize and include matters of historical and traditional importance to Indigenous people on a day-to-day basis.”
The request for a feather came as a result of a request from a victim of a crime that the Lakeshore Regional Police Service investigated more than one year ago, Cox says.
“The victim, as part of their healing process and to assist them in the court process, asked if they could swear their oath through the use of an eagle feather a symbol that is important in First Nations beliefs,” Cox says.
“It was through this collaboration that we were able to bring this opportunity to the courts in Slave Lake and High Prairie as the pilot project for this in Alberta.”
He expects other courts in the province may also want to incorporate the feather as part of their means of administering an oath during court proceedings.