After 5 years of travel, military’s Eagle Staff gets new ceremonial feathers

Master Cpl. Brent Thompson stands at attention with an Eagle Staff, freshly adorned with new feathers, by his side at a ceremony in Winnipeg.

Thompson has been travelling the world with the ceremonial piece for five years.

“It’s a huge honor for myself to be selected and to be given that honour and to carry the Canadian Armed Forces Eagle Staff. Not only all soldiers but Indigenous soldiers that have not come back and not returned,” Thompson said.

“Also current surviving members. It’s a representation of who we are.”

“It takes two people to keep and carry an eagle staff which is 18 years old and was designed by retired chief petty officers Chris Innes and Debbie Eisan. Eisan is from Batchewana First Nation, and served as an Elder and Aboriginal advisor for the military.”

The staff is made up of eagle feathers, narwhal tusk, ash bow, and moose antler representing First Nations, Metis and Inuit members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

“It’s a great honour today to be here with the Eagle Staff,” said Lt-Col. George McLeod who is from the Qalipu Nation in Newfoundland, his voice full of emotion. “It represents all departments of the armed forces, and those in uniform.

“All of those who have come before us and all those who served.

Eagle Staff
Master Cpl. Brent Thompson travelled the world with the military’s Eagle Staff. Photo: Michelle Karlenzig/APTN

The new feathers were supplied by Manitoba Conservation – a government agency that fulfills requests for ceremonial plumage from injured or deceased birds.

Blaire Barta, a legislative specialist at Manitoba Conservation said it was “a powerful and memorable moment.”

“To see the tears in people’s eyes when they receive an eagle… is pretty amazing. It can bring tears to my eyes pretty quick too and seeing something like the Eagle Staff for the military, ya, it’s an honourable position to be in.”

Thompson, who is from Thompson, Man., is a 20 year veteran of the military and has taken the Eagle Staff to Vimy Ridge in France and Passchendaele, Belgium where he was able to honour Alex Decoteau, an infantryman from Red Pheasant First Nation in Sask., who was killed Oct. 30, 1917.

Decoteau is buried at Passchendaele

Now, after half a decade on the road, Thompson is bringing the Eagle Staff, which belongs to the Canadian military, to Manitoba.

Mcleod said he hopes to see those carriers bring the staff to Pow Wows and visit more First Nation communities in Canada.

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