Would You Go Skiing on a Mountain Built on Indigenous Ground against their Will?

by corinnearchambault on November 19, 2017 - 9:20pm

The Supreme Court of Canada decided to accept the construction of a ski resort in British Columbia even though First Nations claim it is a sacred land for them. The judge supported the explanation that the Charter right to freedom of religion does not have to protect the “focal point” of the worship, but the worship itself. The project has been an issue for 26 years, but it was not accepted until just now. The place in question is called Jumbo Valley and it is considered sacred by the Ktunaxa Nation. This group believes it is the home of the grizzly bear spirit: this valley is a key point of their rituals and beliefs. The government tried to find some accommodations between the two groups involved, but the indigenous group supported the thesis that any structures built in the valley would scare off the spirit which would render their practices meaningless. The indigenous group expressed their disappointment and think that this affair has made them look like they are opposed to the use of land by westerners which is not their intention. They feel like their relation with nature is misunderstood by many. Ktunaxa Nation is hoping that their relationship with government will continue to improve for the benefit of both.

 I believe this topic is really important because it is a great example of relationship issues between indigenous groups and other groups in Canada. It shows how, even today, when the reconciliation issue is addressed, groups struggle to come to a consensus. It connects to my worldview because of the life experience of one of my high school teachers which made me more aware of the struggle of these communities. He worked as a geography teacher in a reserve for a few years at the beginning of his career. He explained that it was a really sad place where most people had addictions and children did not receive the support they should have. There were no social services and help available. One day, no students showed up to class. Another teacher informed him that one of them had overdosed during the night. It was really shocking for me to understand the poor and dangerous situation this population was in and that, at that moment, there was not much I could do to help them. This has make me aware to the importance of helping these populations and I believe this begins with reconciliation. The government needs to take seriously indigenous groups’ beliefs in order to show respect and support towards them. This would be the starting point of going reparation for westerners’ past actions and current prejudices. From this understanding and respect, it is easier to find ideas to support them, and to understand better their reality and daily lives. Do you agree with the decision of the government to support the construction and why?

 

Platt, Bryan. “Supreme court ruling clears way for B.C. ski resort on sacred indigenous land.” National Post, November 2nd, 2017, http://nationalpost.com/news/politics/in-key-freedom-of-religion-case-su.... Accessed November 14th, 2017.