Supreme Court reserves judgment in Ktunaxa, Jumbo Glacier Resort case
The Globe and Mail spoke to Jessica Orkin about yesterday’s Supreme Court of Canada hearing in Ktunaxa Nation Council v. Canada (Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations).
The Ktunaxa appeal concerns the government’s approval of a proposed ski resort on Crown land in the Jumbo Valley in the southeastern Purcell Mountains of British Columbia. The Ktunaxa Nation Council maintained that the resort was in the middle of the Grizzly Bear Spirit’s home or territory – an area of paramount spiritual significance to persons of the Ktunaxa Nation.
The Council therefore sought judicial review of the decision on the basis that it violated the guarantee of freedom of religion under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and breached the government’s duty to consult and accommodate asserted Aboriginal rights under the Constitution Act, 1982. The lower courts upheld the government’s decision. The Supreme Court of Canada heard arguments in the appeal on December 1, 2016.
Jessica Orkin represented British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, which intervened in the appeal.
“The core of the case is really about what freedom of religion means,” said Jessica Orkin of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, one of the intervenors in the case.
“The BCCLA’s interest is ensuring that the right [to religious freedom] is interpreted broadly for all Canadians, but also ensuring that it is not interpreted narrowly for a certain set of Canadians, being indigenous Canadians.
“And both of those issues were before the court today.”
The Supreme Court reserved its decision.