Eagle Staff Gathering at the Spiritual Centre in Winnipeg
Sgt Adrian Last, from the 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group in British Columbia, along with twelve other Canadian Rangers gathered here in Winnipeg at the Spiritual Centre to embark on a two-day initiative where they learned about the significance and magnitude of tasks required to be an Eagle Staff carrier.
Sgt Last currently serves as Commander of the Gold River Patrol and finds his career as a Canadian Ranger to be incredibly rewarding because he has the honour of serving both his community and country.
Sgt Last described the Eagle Staff as a symbol of strength and unity; he elaborated on how the Eagle Staff holds a significant place in the cultural and spiritual traditions of many Indigenous peoples. It is a symbol of strength, leadership, and unity, representing the connection between the earthly and spiritual realms. Sgt Last remarked that, “The Eagle Staff is believed to have a direct line of communication with the Creator; it is seen as a messenger between the spiritual and earthly realms. The eagle's ability to soar high in the sky symbolizes freedom, vision, and strength, qualities that are deeply valued in Indigenous communities.”
When the Eagle Staff is carried during ceremonies or powwows, it brings a sense of pride and unity to the participants, fostering a deep connection to their ancestral roots. Indigenous leaders who carry the Eagle Staff are seen as protectors and advocates for their people. They are entrusted with the responsibility of upholding the traditions and values of their culture, and the Eagle Staff serves as a reminder of their role in the community.
Sgt Last expressed, “The Canadian Rangers, a unique branch of the Canadian Armed Forces, play a crucial role in protecting Canada's remote and northern regions. Recently, there has been a significant development within the Canadian Rangers that holds great cultural and symbolic significance - the training of Rangers to carry the Indigenous Eagle Staff.”
This development represents a powerful step towards recognizing and honoring Indigenous traditions and fostering a stronger connection between the Canadian Armed Forces and Indigenous communities. By training Canadian Rangers to carry the Indigenous Eagle Staff, the Canadian Armed Forces is acknowledging and respecting the importance of Indigenous traditions and incorporating them more fully into their practices. This training further demonstrates a commitment to cultural diversity and inclusion. As a result of this CAF-wide initiative, the Canadian Rangers, who are often recruited from remote and Indigenous communities, have the opportunity to be trained to carry this sacred object that holds deep meaning and significance within their own cultural context. This inclusion and recognition has the potential to help foster a sense of pride, belonging, and unity among Indigenous Rangers, while serving to strengthen their connection to both their cultural heritage and their military service.
The training process for carrying the Indigenous Eagle Staff within the Canadian Rangers is a sacred and ceremonial one. According to Sgt Last, “It involves teachings, guidance, and protocols to ensure that the eagle staff is respected and carried with the utmost reverence. This training imparts the necessary knowledge and skills; it emphasizes the importance of upholding the cultural and spiritual significance of the eagle staff according to the Seven Grandfather Teachings.
The Seven Grandfather Teachings known as humility, bravery, honesty, wisdom, truth, respect, and love are a set of guiding principles that are deeply rooted in Indigenous cultures. These teachings, often represented by animals, provide moral and ethical guidance for living a balanced and harmonious life. When applied to the Indigenous Eagle Staff, each teaching takes on a unique significance, symbolizing the values and virtues associated with the staff.
Sgt Last reflects on how meaningful these last two days have been at the Spiritual Centre in Winnipeg. “I’ve learned a lot and cultivated many meaningful relationships; I look forward to deepening my knowledge and journey as a Canadian Ranger who can now bear the Eagle Staff.”