British Columbia

Bethany Paquette, Trinity Western grad, has prejudice claim rebuffed by tourism company

A wilderness tourism company facing allegations of religious discrimination under B.C.'s Human Rights Code by a Trinity Western grad says she was eminently unqualified for the job she applied for, in a further response to the exclusive CBC News story about the dispute.

Amaruk Wilderness Corp. says Bethany Paquette did not meet 'minimum requirements' for job

Bethany Paquette is an avid outdoor adventurer and biology graduate from Trinity Western University. Amaruk Wilderness Corp. says she wasn't hired because she didn't meet the 'minimum requirements' for an assistant guide internship position, not because of her faith.

A Norwegian wilderness tourism company facing allegations of religious discrimination under B.C.'s Human Rights Code by a graduate of B.C.'s Christian university says the Trinity Western grad was eminently unqualified for the position for which she applied.

In a CBC News exclusive story published Tuesday, Bethany Paquette says she was "attacked" over her religion and rejected for being Christian after applying to work in Canada's North for Amaruk Wilderness Corp.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the company rejected this claim, stating, "We regret that Bethany Paquette was [em]inently unqualified for an assistant guide internship position with our company.

"We strive to make applicants aware of the minimum requirements for each position," the statement continues.

A profile photo from the Google+ account of Wilderness adventure company manager Olaf Amundsen. The Amaruk Wilderness Corp. hiring manager said in an email that 'we strongly disagree' with some of Trinity Western's principles but it was a mere 'expression of opinion.' (Olaf Amundsen/Google+)

"This includes, but is not limited to, clearly highlighting such requirements in red bold characters on our website, as well as emphasizing, on multiple occasions and at different stages, the absolute need to meet all minimum requirements of a position prior to applying.

"Unfortunately, Bethany Paquette applied for a position when she knew, or ought to know, that she was unqualified for the position, did not meet the minimum requirements of the position, and did not hold the necessary certifications for the position."

Trinity Western covenant at heart of controversy 

The firm's latest statement comes only a day after CBC published Paquette's story, which has since attracted media attention from around the world.

Christopher Fragassi-Bjørnsen, co-CEO of Amaruk Wilderness Corp.

Paquette, who applied for the job based on her experience as a river rafting guide, says she was shocked when she read the rejection email from Olaf Amundsen, the company's hiring manager.

Amundsen wrote that she wasn't qualified and "unlike Trinity Western University, we embrace diversity, and the right of people to sleep with or marry whoever they want."

Trinity Western is the Christian university in Langley, B.C., where Paquette earned her biology degree.

All students must agree to a covenant prohibiting sexual intimacy outside heterosexual marriage, under pain of possible expulsion, which has led to controversy over the university's new law school.

Email chain prompts human rights complaint

A chain of emails then followed, in which Amundsen claimed Christianity had destroyed the Norse culture, tradition and way of life, and Paquette attempted to defend her faith and point out the firm's alleged discrimination.

Bethany Paquette used to be a river guide and hoped to become a wilderness guide for Amaruk's expeditions to Yukon.

In turn, Amundsen explained that due to their stance on same-sex relationships, graduates from Trinity Western are not welcome at the company, and then used an expletive to state that if he met God, he would have sex with him.

At one point, co-CEO Christopher Fragassi-Bjørnsen joined the email chain to say they believed homosexuality was the best case scenario for a man, and referred to a heterosexual marriage to any B.C. woman as "emasculating."

Paquette has since retained a lawyer to take her case to B.C.'s Human Rights Tribunal.

Company says emails 'a mere expression of opinion'

CBC requested an interview with Amaruk Wilderness Corp., ahead of publication of the original story.

Amundsen responded in an email saying Paquette's job application was rejected "solely based on the fact that she did not meet the minimum requirements of the position."

"Any further discussion after that, including the fact that we strongly disagree with the position that gay people should not be allowed to marry or even engage in sexual relationships, would have been a mere expression of opinion."

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With files from the CBC's Natalie Clancy and Jennifer Sheppard