STU Celebrates Indigenous Graduates with Eagle Feather Ceremony
Indigenous graduates at St. Thomas University were recognized for their resilience, discipline, and dedication in an Eagle Feather Ceremony prior to Spring Convocation.
The ceremony—the first of its kind at St. Thomas and one of few in the Atlantic provinces—gifted each Indigenous graduate with an eagle feather, which they carried with them as they received their degree at Spring Convocation. The Hon. Graydon Nicholas, Endowed Chair in Native Studies, Miigam’agan, Elder in Residence, and Trenton Augustine, Indigenous Student Services Coordinator, facilitated the presentation.
“For many Indigenous students, graduating from university is one of the greatest accomplishments of their life,” Augustine said.
“For us to be able to acknowledge and honour them by presenting them with an eagle feather is an incredible feeling for both us and them.”
The Story of the Eagle Feather
In Indigenous communities, there’s a sacred connection between the Eagle and the Creator, as the Eagle flies highest to the Creator and carries prayers from humans. In “The Story of the Eagle Feather,” the Eagle offered one of its feathers to a human family as a sign of continued love and healing, and a reminder of the importance of the “Sacred Teachings.”
“In our culture, receiving an eagle feather is a special and humbling experience,” Augustine said. “It’s not often you receive an eagle feather as it’s one of the most honourable gifts you can receive.”
The idea for the ceremony was put forth by Indigenous students on campus and supported by the Ad-Hoc Senate Committee on Indigenization. The Eagle Feather Ceremony will now be an annual part of Spring Convocation events at St. Thomas.
A special thanks to the family of the late Dr. Brian Carty for providing the eagle feathers for this ceremony.