SCC Historical Visit: Part #1 – Manitoba Courts Adopt Indigenous Tradition in a Week of Memorable “Firsts”

by Alissa Schacter
Equity Officer and Policy Counsel, The Law Society of Manitoba

The last week of September marked a couple of notable “firsts” for Manitoba’s legal community. The Supreme Court of Canada sat in Winnipeg, marking the first time it has ever sat outside of Ottawa in its 145 year history. In another milestone, Manitobans can now testify in court by holding an eagle feather to signify the truthfulness of their testimony rather than swearing on a Bible or affirming their promise to tell the truth.

On September 26, forty-five eagle feathers were blessed in a sunrise smudging ceremony at Oodena Circle at the Forks and then presented to a joint sitting of the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench and Provincial Court in the afternoon. The afternoon ceremony was attended by Indigenous elders, the Supreme Court judges and numerous judges from Manitoba’s Court of Appeal, Court of Queen’s Bench, and Provincial Court, Masters and Judicial Justices of the Peace, as well as members of the RCMP. Some of the attendees danced in their seats to the powerful sounds of Indigenous drumming and singing, which lent the court proceeding a ceremonial air. Elder Ed Azure shared a teaching about the significance of the eagle feather in Indigenous culture: since eagles are able to fly to great heights, close to the heavens, they are regarded as a “messenger from our maker” and their feathers represent honour, achievement, bravery, truth, clarity and service to others. Chief Justice Glenn Joyal and Chief Judge Margaret Wiebe both addressed the court and talked about this (incorporating the eagle feather into court proceedings) as one step on the court’s journey toward reconciliation.

Following the ceremony, the Law Society sponsored a reception in the Great Library and a tribute was made to a special guest in attendance, Marion (Ironquill) Meadmore, the first Indigenous woman to graduate from law school in Canada. She graduated from the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law in 1977.

It was a moving ceremony that marked the ground breaking step of incorporating an Indigenous tradition into Manitoba’s justice system.

Richard J. Scott Award nominations due Friday, September 27, 2019.

The award honours former Chief Justice Richard Scott, who served as Manitoba’s Chief Justice for over 20 years and is a Past President of the Law Society of Manitoba.

The Richard J. Scott Award is presented annually by the Law Society of Manitoba to an individual who advances the rule of law through advocacy, litigation, teaching, research or writing. Activities that support an independent judiciary, an independent legal profession, access to legal services, access to justice, and public interest advocacy are all eligible.

Past recipients include:
Byron Williams (2013)
Irene Hamilton, Q.C. (2014)
Allan Fineblit, Q.C. (2015)
Jeff Hirsch (2016)
John Myers (2017)
Karen Dyck (2018)

The award is presented in conjunction with the annual Isaac Pitblado Lectures which take place on November 8, 2019.

The deadline for nominations is September 27, 2019.

Nominations can be sent to:

Chief Executive Officer
The Law Society of Manitoba
200 – 260 St. Mary Avenue
Winnipeg, MB R3C 0M6
or
by e-mail to Pat Bourbonnais
at pbourbonnais@lawsociety.mb.ca.

Nominations should be accompanied by the nominee’s c.v. and an explanation as to why the nominee deserves this award.

For more information, contact Kris Dangerfield at 204-926-2013 or by e-mail at kdangerfield@lawsociety.mb.ca.

Notice from the Provincial Court of Manitoba

There is a general presumption, based on principles of access to justice, matters will be heard in the community in which the incident is alleged to have occurred. It is in the public interest to have matters heard in the community or the closest judicial centre so that members of the affected community can participate fully in the proceedings and see that justice is done.

There may be extenuating circumstances where the above principles should not apply. If that is the case and counsel are seeking to have any matter heard in a judicial centre other than the judicial centre closest to where the incident is alleged to have occurred, counsel shall bring an application before the presiding judge, in the originating judicial centre in which the incident is alleged to have occurred, requesting the matter be transferred to another judicial court centre.

This protocol applies to all jurisdictions and all matters and is effective immediately.

The original signed by Chief Judge Margaret Wiebe on July 25, 2019.

Gladue Reports Database Update

Way back in May 2018, I wrote about a project out of Saskatchewan to create a database for researching Gladue principles. This resource was going to operate under a subscription model, but has just received funding to make it open access. Content is from Saskatchewan, however, researchers in other jurisdictions will likely find it a useful starting point. It would be even better if other jurisdictions found a way to add on to it.

For now, congratulations to the Law Society of Saskatchewan, Legal Aid Saskatchewan and the Ministry of Corrections and Policing for having the foresight to develop and fund this resource.

H/t to The Lawyers’ Daily: Creators of novel Gladue database hope it becomes widely used after free access

Summer Rerun – Charterpedia

Summer vacations cut into staff available to write original posts. Over the next few months we’ll be rerunning posts we think you should be reminded of. Enjoy!

The law librarian world is geeking out today over Charterpedia, the federal government’s compilation of analysis and caselaw on the Canadian Charter. It’s like a crowd-sourced annotated Charter, for free!

This Charterpedia provides legal information about the Charter and contains information about the purpose of each section of the Charter, the analysis or test developed through case law in respect of the section, and any particular considerations related to it. Each Charterpedia entry cites relevant case law, and citations to Supreme Court of Canada decisions are hyperlinked whenever possible.

If you don’t have access to a paid annotated Charter product (or even if you do), I’d highly recommend starting with this.

(Originally published Dec 15, 2017)