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Supreme Court of Canada justices meeting with students, Indigenous and Metis leaders while in Winnipeg for historic hearings
The Supreme Court of Canada will hear two appeals in Winnipeg later this week, marking the first time in history the court will sit outside Ottawa.
On Wednesday and Thursday the Supreme Court will hold hearings in the Manitoba Court of Appeals room inside the law courts building.
The court will hear one criminal appeal involving a stay of proceedings refused in a Manitoba sexual interference case on the basis a judge’s decision-making time doesn't fall under the Jordan framework.
The second hearing is a civil case out of British Columbia regarding a French language rights appeal.
Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Richard Wagner told reporters Monday the goal of the visit is to help improve Canadians’ understanding of the judicial system.
“It is hard to have faith in something if you don’t understand it,” said Wagner. “We need to have faith in how our judicial system works.”
Wagner said Winnipeg was chosen in part because of its location “in the centre of the country” and because of the number of Indigenous, Métis and Francophone people who live in the city.
“We know that there is a large community of Indigenous people in Winnipeg, large community of Métis people, as well and the Francophone community,” said Wagner. “And for all those reasons and to meet the people in general, we wanted to start somewhere and those reasons were good to decide to start this historic visit here in Winnipeg.”
In the lead up to the appeal hearings, the nine Supreme Court justices will be in Winnipeg holding meetings and taking part in events.
On Monday afternoon, the judges will visit schools across the city to meet with students.
“I would call this portion of our visit the listening tour,” said Wagner. “In other words, to allow those students to ask us questions and I always found it was important to reach out to the younger generation — the future of our society.
“I think that the more they know about how the judicial system works, I think the better society will be. So the more you give information to people the less prejudice, the less biases they will have and you have to start with the youngest persons in our society.”
Wagner said the justices will be meeting with Indigenous and Métis leaders during the visit.
“Again, that’s part of our listening tour,” said Wagner. “The part of this visit is to get information — to discuss what are their main concerns, to understand their difficulties and also to provide them with some answers on how our decisions are made.
“I think people want to know what the judges are doing, how they do it and why they do it.”
The Supreme Court justices will hold a public meet-and-greet and question-and-answer session at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights at 3 p.m. Wednesday. Members of the public are invited to attend the session.