Community celebrates student accomplishments at Gold River Eagle Feather Youth Program closing ceremony
On June 11, 15 First Nation middle and high school students from Acadia First Nation and the surrounding Chester area gathered at the Gold River Community Centre with family, volunteers, community leaders and invited guests to celebrate their completion of the Gold River Eagle Feather Youth Program.
The program has been operating for two years and this year it expended to run throughout the entire school year. In its first year, it ran as a pilot program for 4 months. The program teaches youth about Mi’kmaq culture and traditional teachings, issues like bullying and internet safety, and how the RCMP works. The combination of cultural learning and connection with crime prevention education helps build trust between youth and the RCMP.
The program is coordinated by Sheila Porter, a student support worker with the South Shore Regional Centre for Education, and is supported by the Acadia First Nation community, a team of dedicated volunteers and school safety resource officer for Lunenburg County District RCMP, Cst. Ted Bailey.
Under Porter’s direction and with assistance from Elders and special guests, youth learned the cultural significance of the eagle feather, gained an understanding of the smudging ceremony and participated in sharing circles. They made ancient stone medicine wheels, traditional rawhide drums, drum shields and jewelry. They also learned how their ancestors lived, tried their hand at arm wrestling, did traditional beading, went on field trips and volunteered at community events.
Sessions were held every week at Acadia First Nation Gold River Community Centre, a place where participants felt connected, comfortable and welcomed.
The program is expected to start up again next school year and participants have already begun brainstorming ideas for September (moccasin making and basket weaving are high on their “to do” lists). In the meantime, youth will continue to put their teachings into action over the summer months.
The Gold River Eagle Feather Youth Program is supported by the RCMP Foundation through a generous gift from John Risley, a local businessman.
South Shore Regional Centre for Education
Cpl. Lisa Croteau
Public Information Officer
Halifax District RCMP