Justice and Public Safety
January 25, 2019

Eagle Feathers Introduced to Provincial Courts

Witnesses, victims, and offenders appearing in the Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador will now have the option to take an affirmation or oath with a sacred eagle feather. Today, the Honourable Andrew Parsons, Minister of Justice and Public Safety and Attorney General, joined Chief Judge Pamela J. Goulding, and members of the Mi’kmaq community for a special eagle feather bestowment ceremony in Stephenville.

Traditionally, in some Indigenous cultures, the eagle is considered sacred because it flies the highest and closest to the Creator. Its feathers are a symbol of spirituality that are used in many traditional ceremonies.

Eleven feathers, 10 for each Provincial Court location and one extra for the Labrador Circuit, were blessed and presented to the Chief Judge and Minister for distribution following the Honour Song and smudging ceremony.

A feather will be available for taking an affirmation in the same way that a Bible is available to swear an oath. Those testifying in court can choose to use the eagle feather while affirming to tell the truth.

Quotes
“Our government has been working hard to improve access to justice for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and to ensure the system works for everyone. Through collaboration with Indigenous organizations and Provincial Court, I am pleased that the eagle feather will be available to those appearing in our provincial courts. I am proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish by working together knowing that we as representatives of our justice system can change our approach to do better for Indigenous people. Introducing the feather into the court process will help to ensure a more inclusive legal system.”
Honourable Andrew Parsons
Minister of Justice and Public Safety and Attorney General

“Many symbols and fixtures, like the flags, the Bible and the robes we wear are used every day and play an important role in reminding us of the profound and significant function of the court in our community. The eagle feather, with its sacred significance for Indigenous peoples, is today recognized and takes its place in the Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. It represents not only reconciliation but also a step forward in the better functioning of the administration of justice.”
Chief Judge Pamela J. Goulding
Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador

“Discussions about having an eagle feather displayed during court proceedings in Conne River took place with Judge Robert Fowler Sr. many years ago, so having this executed across the province of Newfoundland and Labrador means a great deal. Having our judicial system embrace the eagle feather says to Indigenous people that our government is embracing Indigenous cultures and we are on the road to reconciliation as the eagle feather symbolizes respect, honor, humbleness, truth, love, strength, courage, wisdom and freedom, everything that is positive.”
Chief Mi’sel Joe
Miawpukek First Nation

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Media contact
Lesley Clarke
Justice and Public Safety
709-729-6985, 699-2910
LesleyClarke@gov.nl.ca 

Chief Mi’sel Joe
Miawpukek First Nation
709-882-2470, 866-882-2470
saqamaw@mfngov.ca 

2019 01 25                              11:35 p.m.