Eagle Feather to be incorporated into GBC Convocation ceremonies, supporting our Indigenous community

The ceremonial Eagle Feather rests on a wooden case.

George Brown College is pleased to announce the integration of the Eagle Feather into all future Convocation ceremonies. The Eagle Feather holds great significance to many Indigenous peoples and is commonly used in ceremonies. This update supports the college’s commitment to our Indigenous Education Strategy and the CiCan Indigenous Education Protocol

We have updated our convocation ceremony several times over the years, including the introduction of our Ceremonial Mace in 2014, our Coat of Arms in 2019, and our Star Blanket Medallion in 2021.  

“George Brown including an Eagle Feather Ceremony in convocation respects a student’s spirituality and worldviews,” said Carol Ducharme, Manager, Indigenous Initiatives and Integration. “Eagle Feathers symbolize great honour to an individual, and honour their family, community, and nation.” 

The Eagle Feather will be carried by an Eagle Feather Bearer, a member of the Indigenous Initiatives team. The feather is stored in a sacred soft ribbon sleeve and hard case, and both are carried on stage. Elder Julie Debassige will engage in a ceremony of the feather, according to protocols.  

"The feather is a gift of the eagle,” said Elder Debassige. “We all have gifts; we need to honour them and use our gifts to do our jobs.”  

Significance of the Eagle Feather 

The Eagle, or Migizi in Anishinaabemowin (the Anishinaabe language), is viewed by Anishinaabe as the messenger between the people and the Creator. As a symbol of honesty and truth, the Eagle shows courage, strength and vision.  

It is also the predominant totem of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (MCFN), upon whose traditional territory George Brown is located. 

The Eagle Feather is the most sacred and honoured gift given to an individual and must be obtained from an Elder or Knowledge Keeper.  

According to the MCFN, “The Eagle is our most sacred of birds because the Eagle carries our prayers to the Creator and is therefore heard. The Eagle is also our relative and is part of our family. As a part of our family, we must care for and respect that it has given up its life so that a person may carry its feathers.” 

As the late Edward Benton-Benai tells us in The Mishomis Book: The Voice of the Ojibway, “We owe our lives and lives of our children to the Eagle,” as it is the Migizi who saved us from destruction by advocating to the Creator that there were still people that remained true to their original instruction.