The Court of Appeal for British Columbia upheld the lower courts ruling and dismissed the petition brought forward by Candice Servatius. The court ordering her to pay costs after revelations her lawsuit was secretly funded by an evangelical Christian activist organization.
Candice Servatius, an evangelical Protestant, complained in 2016 after an Elder performed a smudging demonstration at her children’s school in the western British Columbia town of Port Alberni. A hoop dancer also said a prayer while performing at a school assembly.
Ahead of the event, parents received a letter advising them that students would participate by holding a cedar branch to “feel the bristles..to remind them that they are alive and well” and that smoke from sage would be fanned to “cleanse” the students and classroom. When Servatius went to the school, she found out that the ceremony had already taken place.
Despite Servatius’s claim that “her children were forced to participate in a religious ceremony”, the British Columbia supreme court ruled against her in 2020. Justice Douglas Thompson concluded the events were meant to teach students about Indigenous culture and attendance wasn’t mandatory.