CAF Eagle Staff travels to the Arctic for the first time
Sarah Francis – Shilo Stag
Warrant Officer Sheldon Quinn of 2nd Bataillon, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (2PPCLI), may be the first soldier to carry the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Eagle Staff up to Canada’s far north, but he certainly hopes he won’t be the last.
He said it was a great honour to bring the staff north during Operation NUNALIVUT. As part of his responsibilities, WO Quinn says a prayer and smudges the staff when it arrives in a new territory.
“I was lucky enough to carry it at the commemoration of the 100th anniversary at Vimy Ridge,” he recalled. “Every time we take it to a new area, we smudge it. You have to lay out all of the pieces together, smudge each piece, and give a little prayer thanking the local grandfathers and spirits.”
WO Quinn said he did a bit of research prior to arrival in the Arctic. “In the Aboriginal world, the way I see it anyway, every area has their own spirits. So, I thank the Inuit spirits for letting the southern tribes bring their memorabilia into that area.”
Each component of the staff represents aspects of Metis, First Nations and Inuit cultures — a replica narwhal tusk for the Inuit culture, the Metis sash and the ash bow for the First Nations.
WO Quinn added that in the future he would like to see an Army Ranger as a carrier. He said it was quite the experience to present the staff to a local elder and Army Ranger.
“A lot of my speech was directly to her,” he said, adding the narwhal tusk represents the Inuit inclusion into Canada’s military. “To bring it up there for the first time, for the Rangers to see it for their first time was quite huge for me. Speaking to her directly, I could see each time I said something about how the North is part of Canada and the Rangers are part of the military, and without them we might not have a North, you could see she was quite proud. They’re not just guides, they’re our protectors up there.”
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