The popularity of black and orange aluminum feathers manufactured and sold from a Pasqua First Nation business has created a bursary at the University of Saskatchewan (USask).
Pro Metal Industries, which came up with the idea to create the aluminum feathers, has provided $16,500 for its Every Child Matters bursary program to provide financial assistance to four Indigenous full-time First Nation, Métis or Inuit students at USask as well as funding at other post-secondary institutions for more Indigenous students across the province.
The aluminum feather keepsakes -- 500 orange and another 500 black -- have proven to be a hit not only in Saskatchewan and across Canada and have also garnered interest from around North America. The feathers have proven to be so popular another 1,000 are being created.
Pro Metal Industries says the idea originated by employees after unmarked graves were found at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C., last summer and felt compelled to do something.
The Regina-based business saw this project as a way to keep memories alive for Indigenous families and to help with healing for those affected in Kamloops, but also at other former residential school sites since discovered including those in Saskatchewan.
Pro Metal Industries donated its manufacturing time, art and design, as well as materials to produce the feathers and every cent from the proceeds will go directly to scholarships.
Candace Wasacase-Lafferty, USask’s senior director of Indigenous initiatives and community relations, says feathers are an Indigenous symbol of strength and resiliency.
“We are so grateful to the people at Pasqua First Nation and we want to continue our efforts to support students achieve their dreams while not forgetting our shared histories,” said Wasacase-Lafferty.
Wasacase-Lafferty believes the feather will be seen as a lasting symbol across Canada for reconciliation similar to how a poppy is recognized as a symbol for Remembrance Day.
Pasqua First Nation declined an offer of support to kick-start this program since they were so sure of a positive outcome and the impact the program would create.
“They are definitely leaders in economic reconciliation and giving back to the community,” added Wasacase-Lafferty, of Chief Matthew Peigan and the Pasqua First Nation.
For more information on Pro Metal Inc.’s initiative, please see: