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Student-designed eagle feather becomes ‘Be The Change’ logo

An eagle feather designed by Hunting Hills High School student Daniel Young has been printed onto clothing items that can be purchased to further continue the act of reconciliation and to bring Indigenous culture to the school. (Contributed photo)

A Red Deer high school student’s eagle feather design has become a logo advocating for the act of reconciliation’s continuation.

Last September, as part of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Hunting Hills High School students and staff discussed the significance of the Eagle feather to Indigenous cultures.

First Nations, Métis and Inuit support worker Debbie Streight provided a paper eagle feather for all 1,500 students to design. Depending on the class students were in, some feathers were designed by pencil crayon, felt markers, others were painted or used chalk and some even digitally designed.

“As part of those discussions, we asked the students to design whatever was in their heart,” said Streight.

“We had some of the most amazing designs – our students took it to the next level. We had some beautiful watercolour prints, west coast designs, some of the students drew eagles, bears, red handprints, medicine wheels and some even had Cree Language on them. Our students are so thoughtful and talented and the Eagle feather designs were extremely heartfelt. It made me so proud.”

The finished eagle feathers were then hung up throughout the entire school.

During the school’s Secret Path Week in October, part of the celebrations included setting up a teepee, with help from students and the Red Deer Native Friendship Society. Students and staff were invited to visit the tipi at lunch where they met knowledge keeper Clare Butterfly and burned the eagle feathers in a sacred fire pit placed in the middle of the teepee.

“The significance of burning the feathers is to pray for the people who were taken to residential schools and who did not come home, as well as for the trauma it caused others,” Streight explained.

“It was really impactful not only for our students, but for our staff as well.”

More than 500 students and staff took part in these teachings and burning of the eagle feathers.

“What was really beautiful is that this was done on the students’ and staffs’ own time,” she said.

“It was truly meaningful. The whole project brought our school together and made our Indigenous students and the community feel very proud.”

As the project unfolded, it was decided to choose an eagle feather designed by a student and place it on clothing items that could be purchased to further continue the act of reconciliation and to bring Indigenous culture to the school.

The feather designed by Daniel Young, a Grade 10 student, was chosen to be printed with the theme “Be the Change.”

For his design, Daniel said that he saw trees like the ones he drew, and really liked them so he added them into his eagle feather. He also designed a medicine wheel inside the sun.

“When I saw Daniel’s feather I loved his design,” Streight said, adding a few adjustments had to be made due to printing limitations.

Daniel’s feather is available for purchase on a number of items of clothing at Sales of the clothing will end May 30.

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Sean McIntosh

About the Author: Sean McIntosh

Sean joined the Red Deer Advocate team in the summer of 2017. Originally from Ontario, he worked in a small town of 2,000 in Saskatchewan for seven months before coming to Central Alberta.
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