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.

Detour: Accessing the Law Courts Building

From the Manitoba Courts:

The front entrance of the Law Courts will be undergoing a renovation commencing on October 15, 2019. The work is expected to last between 12-18 months.  During this renovation, anyone wanting to enter the Law Courts will be redirected through the front doors of 405 Broadway.  This entrance will see an increased flow of traffic and additional sheriffs will be assigned to the area for the duration of the construction. There will be some challenges as we adjust to these traffic flows, so your cooperation is greatly appreciated.

Legislative Updates

1st Session of the 42nd Legislature

New Bills

Government Bills

Private Bills

Bill 200 – The Legislative Assembly Amendment and Legislative Assembly Management Commission Amendment Act

Check the Bill Status to follow the legislative process.

2nd reading


5th Annual Child Protection Program

November 29, 2019 │ 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Law Society Classroom, 3rd Flr., 260 St. Mary Avenue, Winnipeg
Register Now 
6 CPD hours, including 1 EPPM hour

Given the interconnectedness of the individuals involved in child protection cases, most often it is better to strive for resolution rather than litigation. This year’s program will focus on the need for counsel to adopt a modern, collaborative approach to child protection matters.

Topics will include:
-Drug Testing and Reading
-Lessons from Dauphin Provincial Court
-Intake Court and How to Prepare an Effective Brief
-Resources Available to Families Throughout the Province
-Mama Mawi Wi Chi Itata – Family Group Conferencing 

Presenters Include:
From Other Professions
Dr. Ginette Poulin, Addictions Foundation of Manitoba
Bruce Harper, Absolute Testing Inc.
Jackie Anderson, Mama Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre

From the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench
The Honourable Madam Justice Gwen B. Hatch (Family Division)
The Honourable Madam Justice Kaye E. Dunlop (Family Division)
Senior Master Rick Lee

From Manitoba Provincial Court
The Honourable Judge Christine Harapiak
The Honourable Judge Alain Huberdeau

Lynda Grimes, Overall, Grimes
Kris Janovcik, Tapper Cuddy LLP
David Joycey, Barrister & Solicitor
Darryl Buxton, Myers LLP
Michael Clark, Myers LLP
Karen Webb, Burgess Law Office
Desiree Dorion, Dawson & Bretecher
Meredith Mitchell, Legal Aid Manitoba – Agassiz Law Office
Terrance DeLaronde, Cochrane Saxberg, Barristers & Solicitors
Spencer Weisensel, Legal Aid Manitoba – Northlands Community Law Centre
Eligibility For CPD Hours: This program may be reported for up to 6 hours of eligible CPD activity, including 1 hours of EPPM.

Legislative Update: New Bills

First Session, Forty-Second Legislature

Government Bills

Bill 2: The Public Services Sustainability Amendment Act

This Bill amends The Public Services Sustainability Act. The key changes are as follows:

  • the start date and the duration of a sustainability period for a group of unionized employees may be set by regulation;
  • the increases in pay during a sustainability period that is set by regulation cannot exceed the maximum increases currently permitted under the Act;
  • the minister may approve a collective agreement that provides for modest increases in additional remuneration;
  • compensation changes that reflect sustainability savings identified in the course of collective bargaining may be approved by Treasury Board;
  • a collective agreement may be exempted from the Act by regulation;
  • references to the Manitoba Health Services Insurance Fund and other funds are removed;
  • the recovery of overpayments is clarified.

Bill 22: The Business Registration, Supervision and Ownership Transparency Act (Various Acts Amended)

This Bill amends The Business Names Registration ActThe Cooperatives Act, The Corporations Act and The Partnership Act. The following are the key changes.

Extra-Provincial Registrations

Registrars may enter into agreements with other Canadian jurisdictions respecting the extra-provincial registration of corporations, partnerships and cooperatives. Cabinet may make regulations about these registrations.

Extra-provincial limited partnerships can now be registered in Manitoba.

Extra-provincial limited liability partnerships that have an attorney for service no longer require a registered office in Manitoba.

Supervision of Cooperatives

The Cooperatives Act is amended to authorize the minister to designate a Superintendent of Cooperatives. Those functions of the Registrar of Cooperatives that relate to the supervision over financial matters, the issuing of securities and appeals of membership terminations in a housing cooperative are transferred to the Superintendent. The Registrar is also no longer required to act as an adviser to cooperatives or provide model forms of articles and by-laws to cooperatives.

Ownership Transparency

The Corporations Act and The Cooperatives Act are harmonized with recent changes to federal legislation respecting ownership transparency.

Corporations must maintain a register of individuals who, separately or collectively, exert more than 25% of the shareholder voting rights. Reporting issuers, publicly traded corporations, licensed insurers and loan and trust corporations are exempt from this requirement.

Corporations and cooperatives are no longer allowed to issue options or other instruments that are convertible into bearer form. Holders of such instruments that are in bearer form can require the corporation or cooperative that issued them to convert them into registered form.

*Reinstated from the 4th Session, 41st Legislature

Private Members’ Bills:

Bill 200: The Legislative Assembly Amendment and Legislative Assembly Management Commission Amendment Act

This Bill amends The Legislative Assembly Act and The Legislative Assembly Management Commission Act. The definition “recognized opposition party” and the definition “other opposition party” are changed to include political parties that are represented in the Assembly by two or more members, provided that the party’s candidates received at least 10% of the votes cast in the last general election. Such a party and its members are not immediately entitled to any additional funding, salaries or allowances.

To follow the legislative process, be sure to check Bill Status daily.