Winnipeg church pleads guilty to violating public health orders with maskless grad ceremony

A Winnipeg church that held a graduation ceremony last year in violation of pandemic public health orders has pleaded guilty.

Springs Church entered a guilty plea to one charge of violating the Public Health Act on Monday in a Manitoba court. As a result of the guilty plea, the church has been fined $9,000, according to court documents.

The charge was related to a graduation ceremony held at Springs College, an affiliate of the church, on May 20, 2021. Photos from the event circulated online, showing students gathered indoors without masks, which prompted the province to investigate.

Pastor Leon Fontaine, who attended the event virtually, defended the graduation, saying it was a closed set and that students weren't required to wear masks for their final picture.

Following the guilty plea, six other charges against the church were stayed by the court.

-with files from The Canadian Press.