B.C., Ontario courts to close on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Day honours lost children and survivors of residential schools, as well as families and communities

B.C., Ontario courts to close on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Ontario and British Columbia courts will be closed on Sept. 30, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, created when Bill C-5, amending the Bills of Exchange Act, Interpretation Act and Canada Labour Code, received royal assent on June 3.

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation honours the lost children and survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities. It coincides with Orange Shirt Day, an Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day seeking to honour the children who survived such residential schools and to remember those who did not.

The announcement by Canadian Heritage urged all Canadians to wear orange on this day to symbolize how the culture, freedom and self-esteem of Indigenous children have been stripped away over generations.

On Sept. 30, Ontario’s courts will be closed except for certain matters, including Weekend and Statutory Holiday (bail) courts in the Ontario Court of Justice and urgent matters, such as those heard on statutory holidays, in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, said a public statement issued by George Strathy, Ontario’s chief justice; Geoffrey Morawetz, chief justice of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario; and Lise Maisonneuve, chief justice of the Ontario Court of Justice.

Closures were also announced in all locations of the Provincial Court of British Columbia and in the Court of Appeal for British Columbia, with the registry planning to contact those with court appearances set for that day.

Civil, family and criminal hearings scheduled on Sept. 30 in the Supreme Court of British Columbia will also be cancelled and rescheduled to other dates. Parties with applications set on the regular chambers list should reschedule with the court registry, and the scheduling offices will reach out to affected parties and counsel to offer new date options.

In Alberta’s courts, hearings will proceed on Sept. 30, given that they have been scheduled at least several months in advance and given the courts’ commitment to hear matters on their scheduled dates.

“To do otherwise at this stage would seriously disadvantage those affected, particularly those involved in criminal trials as accused, complainants and witnesses due to the time it would take to reschedule them,” said the announcement by Catherine Fraser, Alberta’s chief justice; Mary Moreau chief justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta; and Derek Redman, chief judge of the Provincial Court of Alberta.

Moving forward, Alberta’s courts intend to consider the measures they can implement every year to observe the new federal statutory holiday.

Manitoba’s courts will not be sitting on this holiday starting on Sept. 30, 2022, said the notice to the profession issued by Richard Chartier, Manitoba’s chief justice; Glenn Joyal, chief justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba; and Margaret Wiebe, chief judge of the Provincial Court of Manitoba.

These courts will also proceed with cases set for Sept. 30. In making this decision, the judges considered the fact that many cases have already been scheduled for this day, and cited the lateness of the announcement and access-to-justice challenges arising due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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