Provincial courts in Saskatchewan now have official protocols in place in regard to smudging.

The new protocols lay out how someone can go about requesting a smudge in a provincial courtroom. Chief Judge for the Provincial Court of Saskatchewan, Shannon Metivier, told MBC Radio News that there are two specific instances where the new protocols could be applied.

“The protocol anticipates there might be two types of proceedings where smudging might be appropriate. One is part of a particular court proceedings; so that might be a witness to proceeding or a accused person or a victim,” she said.

The second instance where the protocols could be looked to and used is at a ceremony where a new judge is being sworn in or when new court facilities are being opened up. Metivier said in the first instance the decision will be left up to individual judges, while in the second instance the decision will be made by the province’s chief judge.

Metivier explained the new protocols were developed by the provincial court’s Indigenous Communities Committee which is made up of some of the provincial court’s judges. The committee looks at issues surrounding reconciliation and Indigenous law. The chief judge said having an official set of protocols in place for smudging is important.

“I think it is important for reconciliation. It’s one thing to do something on an ad hoc basis, but it’s another to have a public facing protocol that makes it more accessible,” she said.

A smudge has already been done in a provincial courtroom using the new protocols. This happened when two people entered guilty pleas in Saskatoon for their roles in the death of Megan Gallagher. Prior to the new protocols officially going into effect people who were looking to request smudging had to put in a request to the Indigenous Communities Committee to get an approval.

The chief judge said the Gallagher hearing in Saskatoon is the only instance she knows of where the new protocols have been used. Metivier said she believes the new protocols will lead to smudging becoming a more common practice in Saskatchewan’s courts.

“I think they will just (become more common) because the public is aware of the opportunity. There might have been some lawyers or some members of the public who knew that it was possible before. Certainly in some of the First Nations communities we would see them more regularly, but this gives the public greater access by knowing how to apply and how to approach it,” she said.

(Top Photo: File photo.)