Indigenous Group: Ktunaxa First Nation
Business: Jumbo Glacier Resorts
Issue: Development of a ski resort at Jumbo mountain, a site for spiritual ceremonies of the Ktunaxa First Nation to honor Grizzly Bear Spirit, a principal figure in their religion.
Comment: The Ktunaxa assert that charter protection for freedom of religion must include not only spiritual beliefs, but also underlying sacred sites, in this case an area known as Qat’muk.
Latest Updates: Nov. 2, 2017 – The Supreme Court of Canada – ruled that the approval of a ski resort in a region held sacred by Indigenous people does not violate their constitutional right to freedom of religion. The Supreme Court ruled that religious protections under the charter do not extend that far and only cover freedom to hold such beliefs and the right to manifest them through worship and teaching. A majority of the court ruled that the charter protects the freedom to worship, but does not protect the spiritual focal point of worship.
Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the AFN said the ruling fails to grasp how Indigenous people are connected to the land through spirituality and ceremonies. “More works needs to be done about educating the judicial branch about inherent rights, Aboriginal rights, treaty rights,” he said.