The Edmonton Police Service (EPS) is adding the eagle feather, a sacred Indigenous symbol, to its policies and procedures on Monday National Indigenous Peoples day.
Seven eagle feathers, which are spiritual symbols signifying a connection with the creator who imparts wisdom and medicine, will be introduced on National Indigenous Persons Day to demonstrate the EPS’ commitment to the community.
The eagle’s feathers are seen as sacred gifts to be used in ceremonies, to honour people, show respect, or purify and pray for blessings.
Retired EPS Det. Eric Wilde brought the initiative forward to Chief Dale McFee and the leadership team in January 2020 and received overwhelming support.
Wilde, whose family originates from the northern Alberta Cree community of Desmarais, was passionately involved with the Indigenous community as an advocate and mentor over his 30-year policing career. He always felt that the EPS needed to do more to be inclusive of the community’s culture and traditions.
Wilde, with help from EPS Indigenous Equity Advisor, Andrea Levey, began bringing the community members together to fashion the eagle feathers in a way that would honour the spirit and traditions of the Indigenous peoples.
Indigenous Elder Betty Letendre assisted with the cultural protocols of incorporating the eagle feathers into EPS operations. She presided over a pipe ceremony to welcome the eagle feathers into the community on Friday.
New police recruits, witnesses and complainants will now have the option to swear their oath using sacred eagle feathers, Bible, Qur’an or affirmation/solemn declaration. The feathers will also be available for community ceremonies.
It is hoped that the sacred eagle feathers can provide grounding, connection and strength for all who use them and help demonstrate the EPs’ ongoing commitment to the community.