January 8, 2020
Court’s Decision in Servatius v. Alberni School District No. 70 Upholds Reconciliation and Protects Indigenous Learning
((Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ilwətaʔɬ/sel̓ílwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh)/Vancouver, B.C. – January 8, 2020) Today the Supreme Court of British Columbia made its decision on Servatius v. Alberni School District No. 70 and ruled in favor of the Alberni School District, supported by the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC) who served as intervenors. The Supreme Court concluded that the petitioner, an Evangelical Christian parent, could not establish that the demonstrations of Nuu-chah-nulth culture and spirituality at her children’s school constituted an infringement of religious freedoms.
“UBCIC celebrates the victory of the School District and the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council who were defending the advancement of knowledge and awareness of Nuu-chah-nulth culture, history, and language,” stated Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “As approximately one-third of the students in the Alberni School District are Indigenous, it is imperative that these students receive culturally relevant teaching that enriches and enhances their sense of belonging.”
“Given the traumatic history and legacy of residential schools which attempted to systematically destroy Indigenous culture and tragically harmed Indigenous children, educational experiences that celebrate Indigenous beliefs and traditions should be welcomed, not punished. Honouring and integrating Indigenous knowledge and practices into our education systems is a step towards reconciliation,” stated Chief Don Tom, Vice-President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.
“With the introduction of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, BC has made a commitment to ensuring that the human rights of Indigenous peoples are respected, upheld and advanced. Such a commitment necessarily means allowing and helping Indigenous peoples pursue their right to strengthen and maintain their ties to their Indigenous institutions, cultures, and traditions, especially in school settings. We are grateful to the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council for their leadership on this crucial case and their commitment to reconciliation,” concluded Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of UBCIC: (250-490-5314)
Chief Don Tom, Vice-President of UBCIC: (604-290-6083)
Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer of UBCIC: (250-320-7738)
UBCIC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
For more information please visit www.ubcic.bc.ca