Two thousand orange and black handcrafted metal feathers are the focus of the Every Child Matters Feather project organized by Pro Metal Industries.
Pro Metal Industries, an Indigenous-owned company, was impacted by the identification of unmarked graves at residential school sites, prompting the creation of the Feather Project.
The project is supported by the Pasqua First Nation and returns for a second year after raising $125,000 donated to Saskatchewan post-secondary institutions to support more than 40 Indigenous students.
“We felt there was a better way for healing, truth and reconciliation than through education and helping students succeed in school,” said Mark Brown, president of Pro Metal.
Treena Amyotte, director of business development for Pasqua First Nation and Pro Metal Industries, said as a former post-secondary student, she knows the support needed and appreciated.
“We know that just about every Indigenous student at the school right now is a survivor or descendant of a residential school survivor, so we thought that was a perfect fit,” she said. .
This year, the proceeds will be used in the same way and will be distributed among five post-secondary institutions.
The list includes University of Regina, University of Saskatchewan, First Nations University of Canada, Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT), and Saskatchewan Polytechnic.
Indigenous artist Jonas Thomson of the Cegakin First Nation designed this year’s feather, featuring moccasins, a girl and a boy in traditional dress 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 is a beautiful piece of art, but also a conversation piece,” Amyotte said, explaining how people display them around their homes or in their cars.
“This piece, because it is metal, will be around for who knows how many years to come and hopefully it will be a conversation piece for this generation and generations to come.”
Pro Metal added that the project gives those looking for a way to provide and show their support a way to do so.
Kyle Moffatt, owner of Sticks & Doodles, brought his businesses on board last year as well as this year for this reason, donating wooden tags to attach to pens.
“It’s something we could do and everyone here feels really good to be a part of it,” Moffatt said.
“It’s a cause that’s had a major impact on a lot of people, there’s a lot of trauma and there’s a lot of emotion and there’s a lot of people who want to come together and really make a difference, and so to be able to play a part in that in a way, for our team, there are just no words for it,” she added.
Two thousand feathers have been made for this year’s project, more than half of which have already been sold. Feathers will be available while supplies last and can be shipped anywhere in the world.
According to Brown, some of last year’s feathers went as far as Texas and Australia.