(Provided by RPS Advisor R/Cpl. Jim Pratt: 2019)
In July of 2004, the Regina Police Service worked alongside the Indigenous community, the citizens of Regina and rural communities surrounding the city to find a missing girl , Tamra Keepness. The Regina Police Service worked with Elders Mike Pinay and Isador Pelletier on all cultural components. Elder Mike Pinay was the lead Elder and respected the efforts by members of the Service after three months of searching.
Elder Pinay wanted to gift the Service to show the relationship, hard work and respect shown by all the communities involved. A war bonnet was discussed for the Chief, but it was decided that wasn’t the best gift, as it would only be a gift for the Chief and not the members of the Service. Elder Pinay suggested an eagle staff. The staff would represent everyone involved in the search for Tamra. Tobacco was presented by Elder Pinay to the other Elders on the Advisory, Ken Goodwill, Jean Oakes, Stewart Koochicum, John Oakes and Roland Kaye who gave their blessing for the eagle staff.
The eagle staff was made by Elder Mike Pinay and represents working together in a positive way and if there is every any mistrust it is there to remind us to talk out our differences. The four buffalo hooves, each a different color, represent all the people who had a hand in searching for Tamra. The Regina Police Service flashes represent the understanding and respectful cooperation in the search and the eagle feathers represent the people.
On April 5, 2005 at the First Nations University of Canada Spring Powwow, the Regina Police Service eagle staff was blessed during a pipe ceremony. Since then, it is brought to the spring powwow where it is smudged and blessed to start off another year. In Indigenous culture, a veteran is to pass the eagle staff to its inheritor, it was Korean War veteran Tony Cote who said a few words, and that the eagle staff is a symbol of pride in memory of Tamra. Tony Cote passed the eagle staff to Elder Mike Pinay who presented it to Chief Cal Johnson.
There are protocols to follow with having an eagle staff. It must be kept in a clean place. It must be displayed where people can go to if they are having a problem with each other to discuss it and work it out. The eagle staff is to bring people down in times of agreement. If the community wants the eagle staff to be at an event, they are to tobacco the Chief to have it present and it is to be used at any youth event.
The eagle staff shows the trust between communities. The search for Tamra Keepness brought a community together, police, Indigenous peoples, farmers, and the general public. There was no hint of negative comments during the search towards one another and everyone respected each other. The presence of the eagle staff brings people together and happiness. It is the feelings of people that are in the eagle staff.