Virtual Eagle Feather Ceremony an Opportunity for Indigenous Grads to Connect and Celebrate
For Indigenous graduates from the Class of 2020, a virtual Eagle Feather ceremony held this spring provided an opportunity to connect, celebrate, and give thanks.
The annual ceremony is typically held in the morning prior to Spring Convocation, but with restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic the Indigenous Student Services office decided to move the celebration online.
“It was important to us that Indigenous graduates were given an opportunity to celebrate their incredible achievement and we were happy to be able to put on a virtual version of our Eagle Feather Ceremony to honour them,” said Trenton Augustine, Indigenous Student Services Coordinator.
“The ceremony gave students a feeling of closure and celebration and made graduation feel more real to them.”
Shyla Augustine, of Elsipogtog, graduated with a double major in English and Native Studies. She said despite the difficult circumstances, participating in the virtual celebration was rewarding.
“Being part of the virtual Eagle Feather Ceremony was amazing. The connection and emotions made it feel as though we were together again,” she said.
“That connection gave us that feeling of accomplishment, a moment to celebrate our achievements, and an opportunity to give thanks.”
The ceremony included a prayer of thanksgiving by Elder-in-Residence Miigam’agan, traditional songs by Jessica Paul, Indigenous Experiential Learning Coordinator, a slideshow of the graduates, messages of congratulations, and the story of the Eagle Feather by Endowed Chair in Native Studies the Hon. Graydon Nicholas.
For Shyla, the highlight of the ceremony was when the graduates were given the opportunity to express their gratitude to those who supported them throughout their studies.
“It was a very emotional experience and helped us feel proud of our accomplishments and thankful for the support we had—not only from everyone from the Wabanaki Centre but also from each other,” she said.
“We made an incredible bond with the help, support, and people around us at STU.”