By Annalee Grant
Cranbrook Daily Townsman
The Ktunaxa are not planning on backing down anytime soon, even though the Jumbo Glacier Resort has been given approval by the provincial government.
“The issue’s not closed,” said Kathryn Teneese, Ktunaxa Nation Chair. “You can expect to hear more from us in the coming days and weeks.”
Teneese said they will continue to fight against the proposed resort that would be constructed on an area they refer to as Qat’muk, home of the Grizzly Bear Spirit, and is adamant that it’s not over until the chairlifts are running.
“If we’re successful in our endeavors, hopefully nothing will happen,” Teneese said.
For the Ktunaxa, it’s time to get together and consider their options. Until those meetings happen, Teneese said she will not be able to announce any concrete plans, although legal action could be on the table.
“It’s really premature at this point to say what we’re going to do,” she said. “(But) it’s definitely in our box of potential options.”
After a day to think about the decision, Teneese said her initial feelings of sadness and anger linger after the March 20 decision was announced.
“My initial feelings are unchanged,” she said.
The Ktunaxa were given a few hours’ notice of the impending announcement, and many were not shocked to hear the Master Development Agreement was approved.
“I guess we really couldn’t say we were surprised,” Teneese said. “We always knew it was going one way or the other. It’s a 50/50 chance.”
Teneese responded to comments made by Minister of Forests Steve Thomson in his announcement. Thomson said the Ktunaxa’s spiritual claim to the land was not enough to warrant a veto over the proposed project.
“The legal advice is that it is not,” Thomson said during Tuesday’s press conference.
Teneese said his comments only made the situation worse for the Ktunaxa people.
“He was inflaming the issue by suggesting we were talking about a veto,” she said.
Teneese said the Ktunaxa simply wanted their spiritual concerns factored into the decision on whether or not to approve or oppose the project.
Holding the press conference in Victoria drew the ire of opposition MLA Norm Macdonald, but Teneese said it didn’t matter where the announcement was made – it was still approved.
“(Just) because he’s in the Kootenay region doesn’t mean he’s going to say something different,” she said.
Jumbo Resorts Ltd. may just be getting started in the development of their year-round glacier ski resort, but it seems the Ktunaxa are just warming up in their fight to save Qat’muk and the Grizzly Bear Spirit. Stay tuned.