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Jumbo judicial review begins in Vancouver

Performers on stage during the Ktunaxa Nation’s special event about Qat’muk in Cranbrook in November 2013.  - File
Performers on stage during the Ktunaxa Nation’s special event about Qat’muk in Cranbrook in November 2013.
— image credit: File

Jumbo Glacier Resort is the subject of a court case that is expected to get underway today, Monday, Jan. 6.

The Ktunaxa Nation Council has petitioned for a judicial review that will determine whether the B.C. government acted appropriately when it approved a Master Development Agreement for Jumbo Glacier Resort in March 2012.

"We are seeking to have the province's decision around the approval of the Master Development Agreement quashed, or at least reviewed," said Ktunaxa Nation Council Chair Kathryn Teneese.

The four-season ski resort has been approved by the B.C. government to begin construction on Jumbo Glacier, 55 kilometres west of Invermere.

The Ktunaxa calls this location Qat'muk, which has great spiritual significance for its people as the home of the grizzly bear spirit.

After the province approved Jumbo's Master Development Agreement in 2012, the Ktunaxa felt the significance of Qat'muk had not been taken into account.

"When we read their reasons for decision, we felt that they had not taken into consideration all of the information that we had provided with respect to our connection to the place and the connection to our spirituality," said Teneese.

"We are asking the court to determine whether the decision that was taken by the province was indeed taken with full information."

The judicial review is scheduled to commence on Monday in Vancouver Supreme Court and last for 10 days. However, Teneese said that as of Friday, the hearing had not been confirmed to be going ahead as scheduled because of a shortage of Supreme Court justices.

"We are proceeding as if it is, because that's what we've been told," said Teneese. "I'm scheduled to fly out on Monday morning, so I'm going to be there, and hopefully there will be court."

In a judicial review, the three parties – in this case, the Ktunaxa, the B.C. government, and Jumbo Glacier Resorts Ltd – prepare written affidavits that are presented to the court.

"Over the past while, there has been an exchange of huge amounts of documentation that sets out what our respective arguments are," said Teneese.

The Ktunaxa hope that East Kootenay residents who support their steps to protect Qat'muk will let them know.

"We know there is a significant number of folks in the region – and probably outside of the region – who did not agree with the decision either," said Teneese. "Any kind of reflection of that, we would be most appreciative of."

In November, the Ktunaxa held a special event attended by hundreds at the Key City Theatre, which explained the significance of Qat'muk through stories, singing and dancing.

"We certainly appreciated the numbers of people who spoke out," said Teneese.

"I'm hoping that we are going to be able to do further events like that, in terms of sharing our perspective of our homeland with our neighbours.

"It has opened a door to move down this road of sharing and teaching each other about this place that we all call home. It's obviously something that is important to all of us."

For more information on Qat'muk, visit www.qatmuk.com.

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