Chief Brendan Mitchell was honoured with the presentation of an eagle staff, and ceremonial acceptance of the staff, at this year’s Flat Bay Powwow. An eagle staff is a symbol of respect and responsibility to the people that is carried by many Chiefs in Canada, including No’kmaq Village (Flat Bay Band Inc.) Chief Liz LaSaga who made the presentation along with Victor Muise, Chairperson of the Powwow Committee. Chief Mitchell, representing some 24, 000 members, is the first Chief of the Qalipu First Nation to carry such an honour, and also the first to walk alongside other eagle staff carriers in the Grand Entry of any powwow.
In her opening remarks, Chief LaSaga noted that it was a proud moment to have a Qalipu Chief in his rightful place at the Grand Entry, and commented on her pleasure in working with the new Chief.
She said, “I’m so proud that this presentation could be made at the tenth anniversary of our powwow. The relationship between our community and the Qalipu First Nation since Chief Mitchell took office has been wonderful. We feel very blessed that he is representing our people. I don’t know if he will ever take on a spirit name but, if he does, I imagine the words wind, peace, ease or breath will be part of that name. Since he became Chief we have experienced such ease. He is so good to work with. He is our friend.”
Part of the presentation included carrying the staff around the arbor and raising it in prayer to each of the four directions, a common theme in Mi’kmaq ceremony. Chief LaSaga said this was to bless and initiate the staff. “Until then, it’s just a piece of wood,” she said.
Chief Mi’sel Joe of the Miawpukek First Nation, Victor Muise, Chairperson of the Powwow Committee, Flat Bay Elder Calvin White, Chief Liz LaSaga and Vice Chief Joanne Miles of the No’kmaq Village (Flat Bay Band Inc.) were all on hand to walk around the arbor with Chief Mitchell and raise the staff with him. Following this ceremony, Chief Mitchell was presented with the staff and he joined other eagle staff carriers at the front line of the Grand Entry.
The staff was provided for by the Powwow Committee and was crafted by local artist Scott Butt.
“I am truly touched and humbled by this honour”, Chief Mitchell remarked following the presentation. “I will carry this staff with great pride and respect and always remember what it symbolizes, the responsibility to do my best to serve the people that I represent.”