Ktunaxa stand firm in opposition to Jumbo

First Nation plans rally for November 30 in Cranbrook.

The Ktunaxa Nation remains steadfast in its opposition after the Jumbo Glacier Resort was granted resort municipality status Tuesday.

Kathryn Teneese, Ktunaxa Nation chair, said the nation will gather on November 30 at its new government headquarters to rally for Qat’muk, the home of the Grizzly Bear Spirit, as nation members launch their application for judicial review of the Jumbo Glacier Resort Master Development Agreement in Vancouver. Teneese will be in Vancouver to deliver the application and the Ktunaxa are expected to make a statement as they file the application in B.C. Supreme Court.

“Once again we have been ignored,” Teneese told the Townsman about the new municipality. “Ktunaxa felt it wasn’t appropriate to make this decision with a legal case to still be resolved. It is another example of the current government forcing this resort through despite local opposition, including Ktunaxa.”

The nation alleges the approval of the resort represents a desecration of a principal Ktunaxa sacred site, the likely undoing of Ktunaxa spiritual and religious practices and a significant and unjustifiable violation of Ktunaxa constitutional rights.

“The Ktunaxa want the judicial review to overturn the government approval of the Master Development Agreement, which would hopefully stop this resort from moving forward, regardless of its new designation as a resort municipality, which could be removed by the next government,” Teneese said.

Consultations with the Ktunaxa and other involved First Nations have been ongoing throughout the process but the two sides never agreed on the right path for the Jumbo Valley.

“They’re not likely to convince us of anything and vice versa,” Teneese said.

Teneese said the Ktunaxa were approached this summer about the creation of a mountain resort municipality and were not surprised about Tuesday’s announcement.

The Ktunaxa will launch their application for a judicial review of the Jumbo Glacier Resort’s Master Development Agreement on Nov. 30, and Teneese said the Nation will continue on as planned after the municipality was approved.

“There’s no reason for us to change our plan,” she said. “We are disappointed and concerned that there’s an attempt to try to distract from whether or not the proposal should proceed.”

In a press conference announcing the new municipality on Tuesday, Minister for Community, Sport and Cultural Development Bill Bennett said the judicial review should not effect the new municipality designation.

“My understanding of what they’re asking the government to review is the decision to sign the Master Development Agreement, so that wouldn’t have any impact on government’s decision to issue the Letters Patent today,” he said. “So there is no connection.”

But Teneese disagrees, saying that if the judicial review goes ahead, the project cannot proceed.

“The Master Development Agreement is the overall guide to whether the project proceeds,” she said.

Bennett said that if a judicial review is approved and a Supreme Court Justice were to find issues with the process that led up to the Master Development Agreement being approved, that could cause issues with the new municipality.

“If the judge was to review the Master Development Agreement and the process leading up to it and found some fault, obviously that would have some impact on the process overall,” he said.

Teneese said the looming provincial election may be the reason the Mountain Resort Municipality status was granted now.

“I think everything right now has to do with the election coming up in May,” she said.

She believes that when British Columbians head to the polls, their opinion of the Jumbo Glacier Resort will be reflected in their vote.

After the Nov. 30 rally, the protesters will march from the Ktunaxa Nation Government building to the Cranbrook Law Courts where they are requesting the judicial review take place.

“We think it’s important for the hearing to take place in closer proximity to the location,” she said.

Teneese urges the public to get informed about all sides of the issue.