Instead of throwing out an old judicial robe, a justice of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench has recycled it into a fashion statement that is paying off for local businesses and charities.

“After you use a judicial robe for 10 or 15 years it starts to get a bit ratty,” said Justice Rosemary Nation.

With some help from a Calgary clothes maker, Nation has turned that ratty robe into facemasks that incorporate the black, red and white sections of the original garment. Some are traditional and some have a little more style.

“Some of the women wear tabs that are more lacy, so we did one that was lacy.”

Nation ordered judges who wanted a portrait in a fancy facemask to donate at least $2,000 to a local businesses or charity. $97,900 was raised along with a unanimous decision that the idea was a success.

 “It worked out really well,” Nation says with a smile.

It worked so well that it captured the attention of a judge in the United States after he saw pictures of the masks on Twitter.

“They’re creative,” says Kevin Burke who is a district court judge in Minnesota “I thought they’re very cool that they’re doing that.”

Burke is trying to get a friendly challenge going with his counterparts in Alberta to see who can make better masks, but he says his country is guilty of not having as much material to work with.

“We just have plain black robes so it’s going to be very difficult for us to compete with judges in the Edmonton area to show how creative we can be.”

Burke says what inspired him to embrace the project is that Nation proved that wearing a mask can actually make people see you better.

 “She’s creative, she raised a lot of money, but she showed that judges are humans.”