Two thousand metal hand-crafted orange and black feathers are the focal point of the Every Child Matters Feather Project organized by Pro Metal Industries.
Pro Metal Industries, an Indigenous-owned company, was moved by the identification of unmarked graves at residential school sites, prompting the creation of the feather project.
The project is supported by Pasqua First Nation and is returning for a second year after raising $125,000 donated to Saskatchewan post-secondary institutions to support over 40 Indigenous students.
“We thought what a better way for healing and truth and reconciliation than through education and helping students succeed in school,” said Mark Brown, president at Pro Metal.
Treena Amyotte, business development director for Pasqua First Nation and Pro Metal Industries, said as a former post-secondary student herself, she knows the support that is needed and appreciated.
“We know that just about every Indigenous student in school right now is a survivor, or the descendent of a survivor of residential school, so we thought it was a great fit,” she said.
This year will see proceeds used the same way, and will be split between five post-secondary institutions.
The list includes the University of Regina, the University of Saskatchewan, First Nations University of Canada, Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT) and Saskatchewan Polytechnic.
Indigenous artist Jonas Thomson from Cegakin First Nation designed this year’s feather, featuring moccasins, a girl and boy in traditional regalia and the words “Every Child Matters” in his design.
While the feathers provide funds to help with education, Pro Metal said the presence of the feathers also promotes education.
“The feather itself, it’s a beautiful piece of art, but also a conversation starter,” said Amyotte, explaining how people display them around their homes or in their car.
“This piece, because it’s metal, it will be around for who knows how many years to come and hopefully it will be a conversation starter for this generation and generations to come.”
Pro Metal added the project gives others who are looking for a way to provide and show their support a way to do so.
Kyle Moffatt, owner of Sticks & Doodles, brought his businesses aboard last year as well as this year for just that reason, donating wooden tags to be attached to the feathers.
“This is something we could do and everybody here really feels good being able to be a part of it,” said Moffatt.
“This is a cause that has majorly impacted a lot of people, there’s a lot of trauma and there’s a lot of emotions and there’s a lot of people wanting to come together and really make a difference, and so being able to play a role in that in some way, for our team, there’s just no words for it,” she added.
Two thousand feathers were made for this year’s project, with over half already sold. Feathers will be available while supplies last and can be shipped all over the world.
According to Brown, some of last year’s feathers went as far as Texas and Australia.