Eagle Feather Affirmations Introduced to PEI Court System

The Mi’kmaq Confederacy of PEI’s Indigenous Justice Program, in partnership with the Province of Prince Edward Island, is thrilled to announce a historical milestone marking the inclusion of Eagle feathers in the Court of Appeal, Provincial, and Supreme Court of PEI. 

Beginning today, witnesses, victims, and offenders testifying in PEI courts will now have the option to take an affirmation or oath with a sacred Eagle feather during legal proceedings. This initiative reflects a commitment to reconciliation and represents a significant step towards a more inclusive, respectful, and compassionate justice system.

The announcement took place at the Supreme Court in Charlottetown where Elders, Chief Junior Gould of Abegweit First Nation, Chief Darlene Bernard of Lennox Island First Nation, Kateri Coade, Executive Director of the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of PEI, joined The Honourable Antoinette Perry, Lieutenant Governor of PEI, The Honourable Bloyce Thompson, Minister of Justice and Public Safety and Attorney General, Chief Justice James Gormley, Chief Justice Tracey Clements, and Chief Judge Jeff Lantz for a special ceremony.

Six feathers were smudged by Julie Pellissier-Lush and Tiffany Sark of Lennox Island First Nation, and Judy Clark of Abegweit First Nation. They were presented to the Chief Justices and Chief Judge for distribution. 

In many Indigenous cultures, the Eagle holds sacred significance because it flies the highest and closest to the Creator. Its feathers are a symbol of spirituality that are used in many traditional ceremonies. Participants will be able to feel comfort, strength, and courage when having the option to take an affirmation or oath with a sacred Eagle feather. 

“For many decades, courtrooms across Canada have neglected the significance of Indigenous cultures, traditions, and beliefs within the legal system. Today, as we celebrate the inclusion of Eagle feathers in our provincial courts, we are taking a positive step towards reconciliation and cultural inclusivity.” 
– Chief Junior Gould, Abegweit First Nation

“The acceptance of Eagle feathers in the courtroom is a true testament to the progress made in recognizing the importance of Indigenous cultures and traditions. We must continue to work together to create a future that embraces diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation.”   
– Chief Darlene Bernard, Lennox Island First Nation

“This ceremony marks another step in the path of reconciliation with the Indigenous community in P.E.I. We are pleased to facilitate this act of respect of such an important tradition and belief.”   
– Joint quote from Chief Justice James Gormley, PEI Court of Appeal, Chief Justice Tracey Clements, Supreme Court of PEI, Chief Judge Jeff Lantz, Provincial Court of PEI

“As we continue to work together to strengthen our criminal and civil justice systems, it is critically important that we introduce and embrace inclusive methods that take tradition and cultural sensitivity into account. It was a pleasure to join Chief Gould, Chief Bernard, members of organizations supporting Indigenous peoples, and officials from our justice system in this important ceremony that supports a stronger future, and I am thankful for everyone who helped make this a reality.”   
– The Honourable Bloyce Thompson, Minister of Justice and Public Safety and Attorney General

“The Mi’kmaq Confederacy of PEI is proud to be a part of this historical moment that reflects Mi’kmaq and Indigenous culture in the provincial justice system. Providing the option to swear or affirm oaths with an Eagle feather demonstrates a significant and important step in acknowledging and respecting Indigenous culture.”   
– Kateri Coade, Executive Director, Mi’kmaq Confederacy of PEI