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The eagle feather is a highly respected symbol in Indigenous culture and to be given one is a high honour.
During the months of tough testimony in the inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Audrey Siegl is making sure those involved in the inquiry receive the honour of an eagle feather
“There have been more than 1,200 feathers that have been handed out to people who have needed them and deserved them for a long time,” said Siegl, who is known as the Travelling Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm) Medicine Woman. “A lot of families who come are sharing experiences of ones who are lost and murdered or just missing. So prayers are important on so many levels.”
Hundreds of feathers have been donated to Siegl’s cause, from the west coast to northern Ontario, including a feather from a young boy in Thunder Bay, gifted from his own regalia.
“It was like he was a boy but he was doing man’s work,” said Siegl. “The medicine that came from his pure heart…there’s something powerful there.”
The giving nature is shared with Siegl’s Aunt, Bernie Williams (Gulkiitjaad), who has gifted 800 hand carved pendants.
“I put a lot of thought into what I do and I actually know who to give them to when I see that person, I know exactly which one to give,” said Williams who hails from the Haida Nation on the west coast.
Each pendant Williams carves can take up to four days, and none are alike, just like the people she gives them to.
“In my culture copper is the highest gift you can gift a person. It’s of wealth, it’s of protection,” said Williams. “It does a small part, and I’m really proud to be a part of that.”
The Institutional Hearings on Police Policies and Practices in Regina wraps up on Friday.
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