The Supreme Court of Canada made a ruling today regarding the Ktunaxa Nation’s claim that building a year round ski resort at Jumbo Glacier, near Invermere, in southern BC, would infringe on their religious rights. These rights are guaranteed to indigenous people in Canada, under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Ktunaxa believe that the project would drive the grizzly bear from Qat’muk. This is the name for the spiritual territory within which the Jumbo resort would be built. The driving out of the grizzlies would permanently impair their religious beliefs and spiritual practices.
The Supreme court ruled that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the freedom to hold the beliefs above, and to manifest those beliefs, but does not extend those protections to sacred sites.
What does this mean for the year round resort? Well, in theory, this means that the resort has the ability to build on this land. In practice, however, this proposed resort, first introduced to the world by a property developer in 1991 is very unlikely to get built. For starters Oberto Oberti now has another place in mind, near Valemount, with the backing of the majority of the local people. The groundswell of public opinion against the Jumbo resort was so big that it was difficult to get any local support for the project. The project still has to clear environmental and regulatory hurdles to proceed.
In short, although this is a blow to those opposing the resort, don’t expect it to move forward any time soon.