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Posted: January 18, 2020

Jumbo Glacier Resort is dead

The Ktunaxa Nation Council (KNC) is honoured and heartened to announce that Qat’muk, which includes the Jumbo Valley, will remain wild. The Jumbo Glacier Resort, a source of great conflict for the last 30 years, will not be built now, or ever.

Thanks to a collaboration between KNC, the Government of Canada, the Province of British Columbia and the Nature Conservancy of Canada, development rights in the Jumbo Valley have been fully and permanently extinguished.

Public and private funding has enabled the buyout of all tenures and interests held by Glacier Resorts Ltd. This has been secured through an agreement between the Province and Glacier Resorts Ltd., in turn enabled by an agreement between the Nature Conservancy of Canada (on behalf of the Ktunaxa Nation) and Glacier Resorts Ltd.

After 30 years of resisting development of these traditional lands, KNC is excited to move forward immediately to ensure effective stewardship and conservation of the central Purcell mountains, encompassing Qat’muk.

The KNC is working towards the creation of an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area (IPCA) in the central Purcell Mountains in southeastern British Columbia. An IPCA is distinguished by Indigenous creation and founded on the Indigenous relationship to land. It will serve to protect both cultural values and biological diversity in part of the central Purcell Mountains for all time.

The creation of the IPCA will take several years of collaboration between KNC, the federal and provincial governments, and other parties. KNC envisions the area spanning about 70,000 hectares immediately north of the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy and encompassing the Jumbo Valley and parts of adjacent watersheds.

Defining boundaries and stewardship objectives for a protected and conserved area is hoped to be underway by late 2020 through an agreement between the KNC and the BC government in consultation with local communities and stakeholders. Access in the area will remain status quo during discussions on the IPCA.

This initiative was made possible by a $16.2 million contribution from the Government of Canada through the Canada Nature Fund. An additional $5 million has come from the Wyss Foundation, Wilburforce Foundation, Patagonia, Columbia Basin Trust and Donner Canadian Foundation.

A celebratory event was held in Cranbrook today (January 18) to thank the many organizations and individuals who have made tremendous contributions over the years to keep Qat’muk wild. KNC also acknowledges all those who will be working together to realize a cultural and biodiversity vision for the Central Purcells through the establishment of an IPCA.

“Qat’muk is the spiritual home of the grizzly bear and of profound importance to our Nation. Grizzly bear spirit’s home will become part of a larger Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area (IPCA). So, today marks both an end and a beginning. Finally, we have achieved an end to 30 years of struggle by the Ktunaxa Nation and many other groups to protect Qat’muk and Jumbo, including court challenges all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada,” stated Kathryn Teneese, Ktunaxa Nation Council Chair.

“But more importantly, today is an important beginning as we work towards developing a Ktunaxa stewardship vision for an IPCA in the Central Purcell mountains. We are deeply thankful that all of this is being made possible by very substantial financial support from the Government of Canada, the Columbia Basin Trust, the Wyss, Wilburforce and Donner Canadian Foundations, and Patagonia. I am particularly pleased that the strong support and collaboration of both the federal and provincial governments is consistent with, and I think founded on their commitments to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“I also thank the Ktunaxa Nation’s Qat’muk Advisory Council for all of their guidance and support for the work to protect Qat’muk,” Teneese said.

“I would like to congratulate the Ktunaxa Nation Council and their partners, on their work towards the establishment of the Central Purcell Mountains Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area. It took foresight and leadership from local First Nations people and other communities to get to the point where we can now work toward conserving critical habitat for species at risk over this vast area, namely the Grizzly Bear, the Southern Mountain Caribou and the Whitebark Pine. Our government is proud to support you in this work by investing over $16M in this initiative. By working together, we will reach our nature protection goal to conserve 25% of Canada’s land, and 25 percent of Canada’s oceans by 2025,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, via a video feed.

An emotional Michelle Mungall, B.C.’s Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, addresses the crowd Jan. 18.

“Today reflects the strength, tenacity and courage of Kootenay people, especially the Ktunaxa Nation. To be able to say that Jumbo, Qat’muk, will remain wild is a long time coming. That we are working towards an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area is reconciliation in action and it is the right thing to do. Keep Jumbo Wild is no longer a bumper sticker pleading for the very centre of our region. It is a reality,” said Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall, B.C.’s Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.

She also noted the Jumbo Resort Municipality will become null and void but a legislative order in council will be required to dissolve it.

“Together with the Wyss Foundation, Wilburforce Foundation, Patagonia and the Donner Canadian Foundation, we are honoured to support the Ktunaxa Nation in their decades-long effort to protect and steward Qat’muk and its cultural and ecological treasures for current and future generations. Congratulations!” stated Johnny Strilaeff, CEO, Columbia Basin Trust, on behalf of the non-government donor group.

“The Nature Conservancy of Canada extends our heartfelt congratulations to the Ktunaxa Nation in light of today’s announcement. This marks a significant step towards conserving Qat’muk in perpetuity, which will help to maintain crucial wildlife habitat connections while also safeguarding a living, cultural relationship with this land. We are honoured to support the Ktunaxa in achieving their vision of an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area in the Central Purcell Mountains, and we welcome the opportunity for shared learning of Ktunaxa stewardship principles and natural law,” said Nancy Newhouse, BC Regional Vice President, Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Former Kootenay-Columbia MP Wayne Stetski forwarded e-KNOW this comment: “This is an important and historic step forward for both the Ktunaxa and the advancement of indigenous protected areas in Canada. I am very pleased that the Liberal government federally, and the NDP government provincially, remain committed to what is a long-standing priority for me and for many of the citizens of the Kootenays – realizing the permanent protection of Qat’muk in the near future under the stewardship of the Ktunaxa nation.”

Wildsight has worked for decades to defend the remote Jumbo Valley, deep in the Purcell Mountains, against the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort—and to protect the internationally-significant wildlife corridor that runs through the Purcell Mountains, which is critical to the north-south connectivity of grizzly bears in British Columbia and into the United States.

“We’re overjoyed to finally see Ktunaxa authority over this sacred landscape recognized,” said John Bergenske, Wildsight’s Conservation Director, “and the end of nearly 30 years of conflict with developers determined to ignore the sacred and environmental importance of the Jumbo Valley.”

The Ktunaxa Nation has led efforts to protect Qat’muk for the past two decades. Wildsight has worked with the Ktunaxa Nation and a global community of supporters to fight the controversial proposal for a 5,500-bed resort in the middle of the Purcell Mountains, 55 km west of Invermere. After years of legal and political wrangling that went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, the provincial and federal governments have signalled a commitment to reconciliation through today’s agreement and funding that will give the Ktunaxa Nation the power to protect Qat’muk forever.

“Wildsight is looking forward to supporting the Ktunaxa Nation in protecting this special part of the central Purcell Mountains, now that their authority over Qat’muk has finally been recognized by the provincial and federal governments,” said Bergenske.

“Today we celebrate that after nearly 30 years, the voices of the Ktunaxa people and the voices of the people of the Kootenays and beyond have finally been heard. Qat’muk and the Jumbo Valley will stay wild forever, protected and stewarded by the Ktunaxa people to protect their culture and for the benefit of all living things, including the grizzly bears and other wildlife that still roam freely in the Purcell Mountains,” concluded Bergenske.

Total funding for this project is approximately $21 million, with $16.1 million from the Government of Canada and $5 million from the Wyss Foundation, Wilburforce Foundation, Patagonia, Donner Canadian Foundation and Columbia Basin Trust.

The Wyss Foundation is a private, charitable organization dedicated to supporting innovative, lasting solutions that improve lives, empower communities, and strengthen connections to the land. In 2018, the foundation launched the Wyss Campaign for Nature, a 10-year, $1 billion commitment by Hansjörg Wyss – the Wyss Foundation’s founder and chair – to help protect at least 30 percent of the planet by 2030.

Over the past two decades, the Wyss Foundation has invested over $600 million to help conservation partners, indigenous peoples, and local communities permanently protect over 50 million acres of land and 1.75 million square kilometres of ocean.

“The Wyss Foundation’s support for the Ktunaxa Nation and its efforts to secure permanent protection for Qat’muk is part of its long-term commitment to support indigenous-led and locally-supported efforts that protect culturally, historically, and ecologically significant lands and waters across the planet. With wildlife and natural places rapidly vanishing, we must all do far more to ensure that places like Qat’muk are protected for all time,” said Molly McUsic, President, Wyss Foundation.

The Wilburforce Foundation empowers conservation leaders to protect the irreplaceable lands, waters, and wildlife of western North America. They are a private philanthropic organization that supports land, water and wildlife conservation efforts in Western North America. Rose Letwin is the founder, president, and sole funder of Wilburforce Foundation. At the heart of Rose’s philanthropy is a long-term commitment to sustaining wild places for the betterment of wildlife and communities for generations to come.

One of the priority areas in which the Foundation focuses resources is the Inland Temperate Rainforest (ITR) in the US and Canada. The Foundation aims to maintain the ecological integrity of the Inland Temperate Rainforest region by seeding priority place-based restoration and protection efforts, supporting difficult conservation conversations through increased outreach and engagement, and providing conservation partners with the best science for protecting and restoring wildlife corridors and linkages.

“The Wilburforce Foundation is honoured to support the on-going efforts of the Ktunaxa Nation in the development of a Ktunaxa Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area. Long-term support of scientific research and wildland advocacy made clear to the Foundation that Jumbo Valley is a vital wildlife corridor as well as critical grizzly bear habitat. The region hosts hundreds of species at risk, important headwaters and invaluable old growth.” said Paul Beaudet, executive director, Wilburforce Foundation.

“Patagonia is honored to support the Ktunaxa Nation in their efforts to protect the Qat’muk from the proposed development of the Jumbo Glacier Resort. Today’s important step towards an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area will preserve Ktunaxa cultural, biodiversity and ecosystem values for generations to come. The Ktunaxa Nation has been fighting for protection of this wild and spiritual place in the central Purcells for nearly three decades, and our company and community are proud to stand with them.” said Rose Marcario, CEO, Patagonia.

The Donner Canadian Foundation is a family foundation that supports a wide variety of initiatives, including Indigenous-led environmental stewardship. In our work, we aspire to uphold the core values of trust, patience, respect, honesty, clarity, understanding, communication, transparency, flexibility, and reciprocity.

“Today’s gathering is the next step in a long journey, which the Donner Canadian Foundation is honoured to join as a supporter of the Ktunaxa Nation Council’s partnership with the Nature Conservancy of Canada. We are grateful for the Ktunaxa people’s leadership in the long-term protection and stewardship of Qat’muk and its cultural and ecological treasures.” said Helen McLean, Executive Director, Donner Canadian Foundation.

Lead image: Ktunaxa Nation Council Chair Kathryn Teneese addresses the 120 or so people in attendance in the Ktunxa Gym for today’s announcement, ceremony and feast. Seated are Michelle Mungall, B.C.’s Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, Nancy Newhouse of  Nature Conservancy of Canada and City of Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick, attending on behalf of Columbia Basin Trust. In the background is event emcee and ?aqam Chief Joe Pierre. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW images

Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

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