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Blessed eagle feathers will help Nanaimo RCMP with culture-informed policing

Members of Snuneymuxw and Snaw-Naw-As First Nations share traditions with police and conservation

Nanaimo RCMP officers, representatives from the Snuneymuxw and Snaw-Naw-As First Nations, and B.C. Conservation Officer Service have come together for a traditional eagle feather harvest.

According to a Nanaimo RCMP press release, the ceremony, held Oct. 31 on Snuneymuxw reserve land, included opening remarks from Thomas George and other First Nations dignitaries and guests. Prayers followed, as well as smudging of each participant, overseen by John Thomas of Snuneymuxw First Nation and Jeff Bob from Snaw Naw As First Nation, who are knowledgeable in First Nation ways and beliefs, RCMP said. The eagles were then blessed and provided a traditional offering of salmon before their feathers were “carefully and respectfully harvested” for use in First Nations ceremonies and by RCMP officers.

Four eagles, found dead prior to the bird flu outbreak and kept in cold storage until the appropriate time to turn them over for First Nations ceremonial purposes, were provided by the B.C. Conservation Service.

The eagle feathers will be used to assist officers when engaging with Indigenous persons who may need the strength and courage that the eagle feathers offer, and help facilitate communication with those who have been subjected to various forms of trauma, the press release stated.

“[This] also reflects the continued efforts of the Nanaimo RCMP to help facilitate and welcome communication and foster reconciliation with Snuneymuxw and Snaw-Naw-As peoples, whose traditional territories we continue to live and work on,” the release noted.

RCMP said the event was successful and “a wonderful sharing of First Nations tradition,” and said the police and conservation officers thank the First Nations dignitaries for attending and leading the ceremony and sharing their wisdom and culture with all the participants.

Nanaimo RCMP intends to announce an ‘eagle feather protocol’ in the coming weeks or months.

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About the Author: Nanaimo Bulletin News Staff

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