After years of legal battles, it was announced last week that, despite their best efforts, the Ktunaxa First Nation have suffered their final blow in their bid to stop the Jumbo Glacier Resort from being built on the sacred Qat’muk territory.
The ongoing battle to protect the Qat’muk territory started in 2012 when the indigenous Ktunaxa first filed a petition against the proposed building of the mega resort. The petition focused dually on the lack of consultation with the First Nation during the B.C. government’s approval process for the resort and also on the infringement on the sacred religious territory of the region. The petition was first brought in front of the B.C. Supreme Court in April 2014 but it was dismissed.
The Ktunaxa continued their battle and appealed the decision (which was upheld) spurring them to take the matter higher to the Supreme Court in December 2016. The matter had been in discussion ever since until November 2017 when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled against the appeal. The court stated that their argument that the area is sacred on religious and spiritual grounds is not protected under the country’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“This judgment should be alarming to Canadians, whether or not they consider themselves religious or spiritual. We brought forward our most private and sacred beliefs in the hopes that the court would earnestly, and in good faith, not just listen, but hear them,” said Ktunaxa Nation Council Chair Kathryn Teneese.
“With this decision, the Supreme Court of Canada is telling every indigenous person in Canada that your culture, history and spirituality, all deeply linked to the land, are not worthy of legal protection from the constant threat of destruction,” she continued.
This decision does not allow the Jumbo Glacier Resort to begin building on the mountain with much bureaucracy (an environmental assessment certificate to start with) to organise before construction can begin to garner any momentum.
The ongoing battle against the creation of the Jumbo Glacier Resort was really brought forward to the mainstream in 2015 when Patagonia made their documentary ‘Jumbo Wild: The Movement’ which sought to highlight the importance of the area to the indigenous peoples, to the grizzly bear and to Canada’s wild backcountry playground.