BRITISH COLUMBIA

Jumbo Glacier Resort Would Violate Religious Freedoms, B.C. First Nation Says

03/17/2016 03:00 EDT | Updated 03/17/2016 03:59 EDT
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Skier Skiing Powder Snow Above Thompson Pass On Girls Mountain Near Valdez, Chugach Mountains, Winter In Southcentral Alaska

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to hear a case involving a First Nation that claimed development of a B.C. ski resort would interfere with its religious practices involving the spirit of the grizzly bear.

The Ktunaxa Nation sued after the Jumbo Glacier Resort was given the OK from the provincial government in March 2012 for construction in Upper Jumbo Valley, 55 kilometres west of Invermere.

The suit said the development would desecrate sacred land practices.

"We are saying indigenous peoples, ourselves included, have spiritual beliefs and we have the right to have those spiritual beliefs taken into account when statutory decision-makers are coming to a decision about activity on the land,'' said Ktunaxa Nation chairwoman Kathryn Teneese.

"They are going to be laying out what the next steps are and provide us with a timetable of what we need to do."

Both the B.C. Supreme Court and B.C. Court of Appeal dismissed the claim, noting that the process had dragged on for more than two decades.

The courts ruled that approval of the development did not violate the rights of the Ktunaxa, and there was reasonable consultation.

Teneese said the First Nation is waiting to hear back from its lawyers.

"They are going to be laying out what the next steps are and provide us with a timetable of what we need to do.''

As usual, the Supreme Court gave no reasons for its decision to hear the case.

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