BC court upholds ruling that Indigenous demonstrations in school did not infringe on religious freedom

The British Columbia Court of Appeal has upheld a lower court ruling that a school in School District No 70 did not infringe on the religious freedoms of Candice Servatius and her two children when students were shown a demonstration of Indigenous ceremonies. Servatius took the school district to court after a series of events at the school, including a demonstration of smudging by an elder from the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation and a hoop dancer performance which included a prayer, saying that the events were religious ceremonies. The court of appeal rejected Servatius’ claim, saying that the school had not shown “favouritism” towards Indigenous spirituality, and ordered her to pay the school district’s legal costs. The First Nations Leadership Council celebrated the decision in a public statement, where it asserted that any other result “would have been a blow to reconciliation.” “As the Nuu-chah-nulth have said, First Nations are not a religion,” said Cheryl Casimer of the First Nations Summit Political Executive.

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