61,526-name petition an ‘act of reconciliation’
By Ian Cobb
A petition containing 61,526 signatories from around the world showing support for the Ktunaxa Nation’s Qat’muk Declaration is an act of reconciliation, said Ktunaxa Nation Council Chair Kathryn Teneese this afternoon.
The petition, started 18-months ago after the Patagonia-produced documentary Jumbo Wild was released, calls on Premier Christy Clark to honour the Qat’muk Declaration by creating permanent protection for the spiritual and ecological values of the Jumbo Valley, and halting all development of the Jumbo Glacier Resort.
It was presented to Trans-boundary Ktunaxa Nation members during a ceremony in the Ktunaxa Nation offices in Cranbrook March 13.
“We are greatly honoured by the tremendous support for the Qat’muk Declaration and our efforts to permanently protect Qat’muk as the home of deep Ktunaxa spiritual, cultural and ecological values. Qat’muk is where the grizzly bear spirit was born, goes to heal itself and returns to the spirit world. For us, grizzly bear spirit is a unique and indispensible source of collective strength as well as individual guidance and protection. Qat’muk’s spiritual importance is deeply connected to its biological significance for living grizzly bears now and in the future,” Teneese said.
“This is about a place that lies at the heart of our spiritual and cultural beliefs. In our view it would be a very important act of reconciliation on the part of the Government of British Columbia if they chose to walk with us to develop permanent protection for the spiritual, cultural, environmental and other values in Qat’muk.”
Teneese said the petition itself is seen as an act of reconciliation.
“Your powerful request that the B.C. government work with us to create a Ktunaxa protected area is in itself an act of reconciliation,” she said.
“This is an incredibly powerful day for me,” admitted Wildsight executive director Robyn Duncan.
“For 26 years the fight to keep Jumbo wild and against the Jumbo Glacier Resort has not only kept development from continuing beyond a few concrete slabs. The fight has helped build bridges in our communities, between conservationists, recreationists, hunters, First Nations and more,” Duncan stated as she made the presentation of the petition.
“Over the years we’ve laid the foundations for lifelong working relationships and friendships. The fight to keep Jumbo wild is about protection of our remaining wild places. It’s about critical habitat connectivity for grizzly bears, wolverines and other species. It’s about the love of wilderness that we share here in the Kootenays. And it’s about respect for Ktunaxa spiritual beliefs,” she said.
Teneese reminded those gathered the Ktunaxa Nation remains hopeful the Canadian Supreme Court will rule in their favour on this same issue.
“It is a decision that will affect not only us but the spiritual rights of indigenous people across this country and indeed around the world,” she said, adding the Ktunaxa people appreciate the support shown by the 61,526 people who signed the petition.
“What it says is ‘we care – we care about the place that is important and needs to be there for future generations and I believe by putting our hearts and minds together we can make that happen.”
Joining in on today’s ceremonies were members of the Trans-boundary Ktunaxa Nation, including from the Confederate Salish and Kootenay tribes and the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho.
District of Invermere Mayor and Columbia River-Revelstoke BC NDP candidate Gerry Taft and Regional District of East Kootenay Electoral Area G Director Gerry Wilkie were also on hand.
The petition will be presented to the B.C. Legislature by Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald tomorrow.
Lead image: Ktunaxa Nation Chair Kathryn Teneese seated behind the 61,526 signature petition. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW photo