On November 2, the Supreme Court of Canada released its Ktunaxa vs. British Columbia decision denying the Ktunaxa Nation’s appeal of two BC court decisions.
We sought—and obtained—intervener status in this case because of the implications it could have for future economic development projects throughout Canada. There are Aboriginal spiritual rights claims throughout Canada that may be affected by economic development projects and we advocated an approach that appropriately balances the rights of all affected parties—including businesses and their investors—when such projects are assessed and regulated.
In 2012, BC’s Minister of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations approved a Master Development Agreement (MDA) granting Glacier Resorts permission to build a ski resort on Crown land in the Jumbo Valley. The MDA followed two decades of negotiations and regulatory reviews/approvals which included significant consultation with potentially affected First Nations communities, including the Ktunaxa Nation Council. It was also the last in a series of approvals issued by the BC government for this project, which were not challenged by the Ktunaxa Council.
After the granting of the MDA, the Ktunaxa Council applied for a judicial review of the decision alleging that their Charter right to freedom of religion had been violated and the Crown had breached its duty to consult. The BC Supreme Court and the BC Court of Appeal dismissed the case and the Ktunaxa turned to the Supreme Court of Canada.