Ktunaxa may take case against Jumbo to Supreme Court of Canada

Ktunaxa First Nation’s long-running legal case against the creation of Jumbo Glacier Resort may eventually wind up in the highest court

The Ktunaxa First Nation’s long-running legal case against the creation of Jumbo Glacier Resort may eventually wind up in the highest court in Canada.

The Ktunaxa First Nation’s petition for judicial review of the provincial government’s approval of the proposed resort was dismissed by the B.C. Supreme Court in April 2014.

More recently, its appeal of the initial ruling was dismissed in the B.C. Court of Appeals.

A press release from the Ktunaxa indicated the First Nation is now considering taking the matter to the Supreme Court of Canada.

“We have opposed this project for almost 30 years, and will continue to do so,” said Ktunaxa Nation Council Chair Kathryn Teneese in the press release.

“We are working closely with our legal team to analyze the ruling and other developments to determine what our next steps will be.”

She then said that one of those steps could be an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

When the B.C. Court of Appeal announced its decision earlier in August, Ms. Teneese issued a short statement and promised a further response, which came a few weeks later in the form of the press release, which reiterated the Ktunaxa’s

disappointment.

The original petition argues the approval of the resort infringes on an area held sacred by the First Nation, known as Qat’muk, and correspondingly violates the Ktunaxa’s right to freedom of religion.

It also argued that the provincial government’s consultation with the Ktunaxa regarding their constitutionally protected Aboriginal rights was not reasonable.

“Vitally important Ktunaxa spiritual practices and beliefs are at stake for us if this ski resort is built,” said Teneese in the press release. “Those spiritual practices and beliefs are central to the Ktunaxa, our society, identity and sense of well-being. But the Court of Appeal ultimately decided that our spiritual practices and beliefs should not be protected when their protection might impact other people. Despite the court ruling, we continue to believe that our Charter rights are meant to be protected.”

“The court ruling also means it was okay for the Minister (of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations) who approved the ski resort to ignore our Charter right to freedom of religion even though we expressly raised it several times with him in writing,” continued Ms. Teneese. “The minister didn’t even mention our Charter right in his written decision to approve the ski resort. From our perspective, the court also has allowed the government to make significant errors in consultations with us.”

The press release did not mention when the Ktunaxa First Nation would decide whether or not to proceed with an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

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