WINNIPEG -- The eagle feather staff used by the Department of National Defence (DND) and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to honour Indigenous soldiers has made a stop in Winnipeg.

On Tuesday, the feather staff was brought to a special ceremony commemorating Manitoba Conservation for donating eagle feathers for the staff last year.

According to Lt-Col. George McLeod the staff represents the CAF’s and DND’s duties to the country.

“The eagle feather it represents the eagle of course, the bird that flies the highest and takes our prayers to the creator, so the eagle staff honours that,” he said.

“And in this case, this eagle staff represents all of us within uniform, those who’ve served in the past and those who serve now and it celebrates this country.”

Blaire Barta, a legislative specialist for the province’s wildlife and fisheries branch, oversees the program that provides feathers, eagles, hawks and owls to Indigenous people and organizations who are using them for traditional or cultural purposes.

eagle feather staff

She said there’s a lot of traditional uses for eagles and their feathers.

“Eagles are a protected species,” she said.

“You simply can’t just take one out of the wild. There’s a legal authority requirement through law, the Wildlife Act requires that.”

She said the program receives the eagles from places like the Wildlife Haven and Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centres after they’ve been found dead or died from injuries.

People can then put in a request to use the animals for traditional reasons.

She said it is an honour for one of their feathers to be used on this eagle staff.

“It’s extremely special because we understand it’s gone around the world, but they’ve also provided eagle feathers at the gravesites of some of the Indigenous soldiers back in Vimy and places like that,” she said.

eagle feather staff

McLeod said they’ve been trying to get the eagle feather staff in Manitoba for the Manito Ahbee Festival, but the timing hasn’t worked out.

“What we’d love to be able to do if we have it long enough is to get it out to the other grand openings for a number of the other powwows in the areas of the other communities that are in Manitoba, but it’s a matter of getting the timing right,” he said.