Mothers who oppose dirty demonstrations at a Vancouver Island school are losing traction

B.C. the mother has lost her charms in a case where she claimed two school events on Indigenous culture violated her children's religious freedom.

Candice Servatius made the claim in 2016 after an elder performed a smear demonstration at the John Howitt Elementary School in Port Alberni, and a looper said a prayer while performing at a school assembly.

In 2020, SM. Chief Justice Douglas Thompson ruled that the two events were not religious ceremonies but demonstrations designed to teach students about Indigenous culture—and that students were not forced to participate.

He pointed out that about a third of students in the Alberni School District, which is in the traditional Nuu-chah-nulth people's area of central and western Vancouver Island, are Indigenous.

He dismissed the case but found that Servatius did not have to pay school district court fees because his family could not afford it.

Servatius appealed against his dismissal, and the school district appealed against having to pay his fees.

Court of Appeal Judgment

B.C. The Court of Appeal has now ruled against Servatius and for the Alberni School District.

In the judgment penned by Judge Susan Griffin, the court found no factual errors were made in the original judgment. Griffin wrote that the demonstrations were not religious ceremonies but public demonstrations for the purpose of building community.

He cited the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which B.C. adopted in 2019. Article 15 of the UNDRIP says that Indigenous culture and traditions must be reflected in education.

As for court costs, Judge Griffin found the first judge did not have all the information needed to make a decision.

While Servatius said his family did not have the means to pay school district court fees, he did not disclose that the costs were covered by the Judiciary Center for Constitutional Freedoms, a non-profit organization that handles Charter of Rights and Freedoms cases.

The judge decided that the cost of the case must be paid by Servatius. This article was written by EDUKASI CAMPUS.  

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