A Trinity Western University graduate has filed a human rights complaint against a Norwegian wilderness company she says targeted her religious beliefs.
In September, Bethany Paquette, who is 23 years old and graduated from Trinity Western in the spring with a degree in biology, applied to Amaruk Corp. for a position as a winter assistant guide intern.
The next day, she received an email reply from wilderness guide and instructor Olaf Amundsen.
Amundsen told Paquette that she did not meet the minimum requirements for the position outlined on the companyâ€™s website.
Paquette said the rejection was â€œnot a big deal.â€ It was what came next that shocked her.
â€œAdditionally, considering you were involved with Trinity Western University, I should mention that, unlike Trinity Western University, we embrace diversity, and the right of people to sleep with or marry whoever they want, and this is reflected within some of our staff and management,â€ Amundsen wrote.
The evangelical Christian university requires students and faculty to sign a Community Covenant that includes a pledge to abstain from â€œsexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.â€
Amundsen went on to say that Amaruk is not a Christian organization and he believes that Christianity destroyed the Norse culture, tradition and way of life.
After getting over her shock at the response, Paquette fired off an email to Amundsen, signing it â€œGod Blessâ€ in, she admits, an attempt to provoke him.
She received another response from Amundsen â€“ which stated that graduates from Trinity Western are not welcome at Amaruk â€“ plus emails from Amarukâ€™s Christopher Fragassi-Bjornsen, Dwayne Kenwood-Bjornsen and Arkyn Borg.
â€œI was definitely surprised with how many responses I got back and how much worse they got with each one,â€ Paquette said. â€œIt was definitely really hurtful and it made me really angry to be discriminated against so harshly when Iâ€™d just applied for a job.â€
Paquette filed the human rights complaint Sept. 30 because she wants to make sure that Amaruk doesnâ€™t discriminate against future job applicants.
In an emailed statement, Amaruk said Paquette was â€œeminently unqualifiedâ€ for an assistant guide internship position.
The statement does not address the comments made about Paquetteâ€™s religious beliefs or university education.
Trinity Western spokesman Guy Saffold said Paquetteâ€™s situation is â€œcompletely unprecedentedâ€ at the school and he hopes itâ€™s an isolated incident.
Paquette said it has crossed her mind that listing Trinity Western as her alma mater on her resume could cause her problems in the future, but she said doesnâ€™t want to work somewhere that wouldnâ€™t hire her because of where she went to school.
â€œIâ€™m really happy I went to Trinity and itâ€™s been an extremely good experience for me,â€ she said. â€œYou shouldnâ€™t be ashamed of where you went to university.â€
Geoffrey Trotter, Paquetteâ€™s lawyer, said the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has not yet accepted the complaint â€” screening takes about three weeks â€” but he believes the tribunal wonâ€™t have a hard time seeing why Paquette was turned down for the job.
â€œItâ€™s a really clear-cut case of religious discrimination,â€ Trotter said. â€œThis is just as unacceptable as an employer rejecting an application because someone is female, black or gay.â€
â€“ Jennifer Saltman is a Vancouver Province reporter.
Read more Vancouver Province stories here.