Ktunaxa to appeal Jumbo decision

The First Nation says Supreme Court does not respect sacred relationship with Qat’muk

The Ktunaxa Nation has launched a legal appeal against a B.C. Supreme Court ruling about the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort.

The First Nation announced on Monday, May 5, that it has filed papers with the B.C. Court of Appeal.

The decision comes after the Ktunaxa argued in a judicial review that Jumbo Glacier Resort violates its charter rights to religious freedom by desecrating land that is sacred to them, which the Ktunaxa know as Qat’muk.

After hearing the judicial review in January, Justice John Savage ruled on April 3 that the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations had adequately consulted the Ktunaxa prior to approving the four-season resort in 2012 and did not infringe on the Ktunaxa’s constitutional rights.

But the Ktunaxa announced Monday that they will continue to pursue the issue in court.

“The Supreme Court of Canada already determined in 2004 that Canada’s Aboriginal peoples’ rights must be recognized and respected,” said Kathryn Teneese, Ktunaxa Nation Council Chair. “Our beliefs are what make us Ktunaxa and being told that our sacred relationship regarding Qat’muk and its need for protection from this development are not important enough to stop the destruction of our sacred place should concern any British Columbian who cherishes the freedom to practice their religion without interference and respects constitutionally protected rights.”

Jumbo Glacier Resort has been approved by the B.C. government to begin construction on Jumbo Glacier, 55 kilometres west of Invermere.

To the Ktunaxa, Qat’muk has great spiritual significance for its people as the home of the grizzly bear spirit.

“As Ktunaxa, Qat’muk has always and will always be sacred, despite what any court tells us,” continued Teneese. “We will continue to fight the construction of the Jumbo Glacier Resort and appreciate the support we have received from the many non-Ktunaxa organizations, Kootenay residents and people far and wide who oppose this development.”

The appeal will be heard in the British Columbia Court of Appeal later this year or in early 2015.

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