The Victoria courthouse opened its doors to the public Saturday to demystify the space and provide more education about the courts and justice system.
The event was part of national Law Day, which is held every April to celebrate the signing of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
With the Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of B.C. celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, Victoria’s event had an Indigenous focus with a traditional welcome, Truth and Reconciliation talk, drumming and dancing, and a judge’s talk on First Nations Courts.
“We found this year there was a really good sense of energy, with the traditional welcome at the start, the drumming – it was a special year for us this year,” said Kirby Hayes, lawyer and one of the event organizers.
There was also a provincial mock trial competition, a fairy tale mock trial with The Incredibles, tours of holding cells and booths from community organizations.
“We had lots of booths from the community, so it was a chance for the public to learn more about the justice system and these groups who do very important work here in Victoria,” said Hayes.
Officers from the Victoria Police Department were also on the grounds doing K9 demonstrations.
“We had dogs out doing obedience, evidence searching, we had a lab out searching for bombs, and we did a little bit of bite work to finish it off,” said Const. Glenn Foley.
Foley is the human partner to PSD Zender, a three-year-old purebred German Shepherd trained in tracking, building searches, locating evidence, compound searches and obedience.
K9 Unit Trainer Const. Calvin Ewer put his four-year-old chocolate lab PSD Maverick through the paces. Maverick is trained in explosive detection.
“He is super stubborn. That’s the reason why we use labs,” said Ewer. “They are very good around people, obviously, so when we do big events like Canada Day, big concerts downtown, we use him to sweep the area, out of the interest of public safety. A lot of people aren’t intimidated by Labs.”
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