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The Supreme Court Cleared The Way For A Ski Resort On This First Nation's Sacred Land

The Jumbo Glacier resort was first proposed in 1991.

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The Ktunaxa Nation says it's "profoundly disappointed" with a Supreme Court of Canada decision that clears the way for a ski resort to be built on land that is sacred to the First Nation.

Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The nine justices were unanimous in dismissing an appeal from the Ktunaxa Nation against the construction of the Jumbo Glacier resort in British Columbia's Kootenays region.

The First Nation considers the area, known as Qat’muk, as a sacred place and home to the Grizzly Bear Spirit. They argued against the construction of the year-round ski resort on spiritual and ecological grounds, saying it would hurt local grizzly populations.

The justices, however, said in their decision that the project "does not violate the Ktunaxa's right to freedom of religion."

"With this decision, the Supreme Court of Canada is telling every Indigenous person in Canada that your culture, history, and spirituality, all deeply linked to the land, are not worthy of legal protection from the constant threat of destruction," said Kathryn Teneese, Ktunaxa Nation Council chair, in a statement.

The decision has angered many people.

Because a ski resort is more important than the continuity of an Indigenous nation's worldview: a worldview that pr… https://t.co/USBckEIfdD

"This is total bullshit."

Demonstrates the total inadequacy of Canadian law to understand Indigenous legal orders. And that land was never surrendered!

People said it was a sign of disrespect.

It takes some real mental gymnastics to say you respect Indigenous spirituality, then allow a ski resort to be built on sacred mountains

Perry Bellegarde, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said the decision reflected a "lack of awareness" of an "Indigenous worldview" that is inextricably tied to the land.

Perry Bellegarde on Supreme Court Ktunaxa ruling: "We're inextricably tied to the land"; "When you hurt our relativ… https://t.co/eNzWtXld1S

The Ktunaxa, who have occupied the land for more than 10,000 years, have opposed the project since it was first proposed in 1991.

Ishmael Daro is a social news editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Toronto.

Contact Ishmael N. Daro at ishmael.daro@buzzfeed.com.

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