“What’s in a name?”
Many cultures believe there is a power in a person’s name, and parents often spend a considerable amount of time choosing a name that creates a positive vision for the child’s future.
In Indigenous culture, a name is the most important gift a child receives, so it is even more meaningful when an adult is given one and can understand its significance.
For EPS Constable Catlin Chaisson, who was recently gifted his Indigenous name by an Elder, it provided a deeper understanding of his role within the community.
Catlin is of Mi’kmaq descent and was born in New Brunswick, however he lost touch with his Indigenous culture as he grew up and eventually moved away.
“It was not until I began working for Indigenous police services in northern and southern Alberta that I started connecting with my roots again,” said Catlin. “It brought back positive childhood memories I had almost forgotten, and I felt a renewed passion to reconnect with my family back home and my culture.”
Catlin attending an Indigenous ceremony at Fox Lake while a constable with the North Peace Tribal Police.
Over the years, Catlin had participated in smudges, and was honoured to receive moccasins, dream catchers, and eagle feathers as gifts, but always felt he needed something more.
This began a spirit quest that led to Cree Elder Fred Campiou, who understood the need for Indigenous peoples to embrace their rich heritage if they were to become whole.
The Elder invited Catlin to two sweat lodge ceremonies to help him connect with the Creator and restore balance, then offered to gift Catlin with his Indigenous name, which had been missing from his life.
Dressed in his ribbon shirt and regalia, Catlin offers tobacco with Elder Campiou as part of the pipe ceremony protocols.
A sacred pipe ceremony was held for Catlin and his circle of family and friends on a rural property outside of Alexander First Nation. While in the spirit, Elder Campiou revealed Catlin’s Indigenous name to be “Flying Eagle Spirit Child.”
Catlin was deeply moved when he realized how appropriate his Indigenous name was to his career in policing.
Currently, Catlin is assigned to the EPS HELP Unit, and works directly with vulnerable individuals to get them into the social supports they require. These individuals are often struggling with trauma, addictions, and homelessness.
“The eagle is a symbol of protection, a messenger, a sign of strength and understanding. I have always tried to use my position to bridge the gaps between communities and bring people together to help them,” he said.
The experience not only gave him a greater sense of purpose as a police officer, it also inspired him be stronger voice for marginalized community members.
“I reached a turning point as a child when I started to stand up for myself as a person and be a voice for what I believed in. This ceremony has connected me even further to who I am as a person, it grounded me to my culture, and my new Indigenous name has given me the wings to be an authentic voice within the community so I can support others.”
Congratulations Constable Catlin Chaisson on receiving this meaningful gift.