Andre Noel Denny will be assigned a Mi'kmaq interpreter during his second-degree murder trial in September.
Denny is accused of killing gay activist Raymond Taavel outside a bar in Halifax in April 2012.
Denny's defence lawyer, Donald Murray, made the application for an interpreter Friday at Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax. He said Denny has a clear need for assistance.
"He has that level of need where he's not fully conversant in the English language. And it's not a matter of just, 'Are you able to speak and communicate,' but, 'Do you have a full understanding of what's going on?'"
Barry Bernard, with the Mi'kmaq Legal Support Network, told the court that Denny spoke Mi'kmaq with his grandmother as a child and speaks an older dialect of the language.
Denny asked Bernard several questions in Mi'kmaq, which Bernard relayed to the court. One request was for Denny's mother to bring him an eagle feather to hold if he's required to testify in his own defence.
Denny won't receive word-for-word translation during the trial. Instead, the Mi'kmaq interpreter from Cape Breton will explain proceedings as needed.
Bernard will also be present during the trial as a Mi'kmaq-speaking court worker.
Denny was at large from the Nova Scotia Hospital when Taavel was killed.
His six-week trial is scheduled to begin on Sept. 2. He is currently at the East Coast Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Burnside.