“People would understand if this were a proposal that would destroy the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem or the Temple Mount.” -Josh Paterson of The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association
For the first time in Canadian Supreme Court history the merits of an indigenous religious freedom claim under the Canada’s rights charter will be determined in the case of The Ktuxana First Nation vs. Jumbo Glacier ski resort as reported by the BBC.
In 2012 the British Columbia government approved the development of a 4 seasons mountain resort in a remote valley in the province’s mountainous southeast. The Ktuxana Nation has opposed development in the area since it was first proposed in 1991. They say the site which is known as “Qat’muk” is “where the Grizzly Bear Spirit was born, goes to heal itself, and returns to the spirit world.” They believe that if the resort was built they would no longer have access to it’s spirit and guidance.
The Ktuxana Nation has challenged the BC government’s approval in court but BC Supreme Court and BC Court of Appeal have dismissed the Ktuxana Nation claim. The Supreme Court hearing held today will mark the first time the First Nations spirituality is considered in land use decisions like the Jumbo Valley resort.
Ktuxana Nation has several allies in its efforts to defeat the developers including outdoor clothing giant Patagonia which financed a documentary about the situation to raise awareness:
Vancouver-based developer behind Jumbo Glacier Resort, Oberto Oberti, hopes they come to a peaceful solution and his resort is eventually built but is “Leaving it up to constitutional scholars to debate its impact on religious freedoms.”
[images from cbc.ca]