Wildsight is deeply saddened by the Supreme Court ruling today that fails to recognize indigenous spiritual rights connected to sacred places in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We stand with the Ktunaxa Nation in the continued fight to defend their sacred territory from the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort.
“Wildsight supports the Ktunaxa Nation’s call for an indigenous protected area to permanently protect the spiritual and ecological values of Qat’muk,” says Robyn Duncan, Executive Director of Wildsight. “We can’t think of a better end to the 26 year fight to keep Jumbo wild than all governments coming together to establish an indigenous protected area, setting a bold precedent for reconciliation through conservation.”
Qat’muk, in BC’s Central Purcell mountains, is the spiritual home of the grizzly bear spirit for the Ktunaxa and it is critical habitat for grizzly bears, wolverines and other wildlife travelling through the relatively-undeveloped Purcell mountains. Wildsight supports the Ktunaxa call for protection of Qat’muk, including not only the core area of the upper Jumbo Valley, but the broader landscape surrounding it in the Central Purcells.
“Environmental conservation must respect First Nations’ traditional use rights and spiritual values, while also protecting ecological and wilderness values,” says Duncan, “Conservation can be an act of reconciliation if it’s led by First Nations.”
“Qat’muk is a special place and it is a sacred place—and it must remain wild.”
This decision does not mean the Jumbo Glacier Resort will be built. The resort development requires an Environmental Certificate to proceed. Glacier Resorts’ Environmental Certificate was cancelled after their failure to substantially begin development in the certificate’s 10 year term. The developers are currently prohibited by the BC Environmental Assessment Office from any construction activities for the Jumbo Glacier Resort.
Despite the Supreme Court decision, now is the time for both federal and provincial governments to work to establish an indigenous protected area with the Ktunaxa.
“All the pieces are in place to make Qat’muk a model for indigenous protected areas in Canada: strong local support for protection, the BC NDP and Green Party’s stances against the project and the federal government’s commitment to reconciliation with First Nations and to increase protection of Canada’s landscape through Canada Target One,” says Duncan, “With the disappointing Supreme Court decision out of the way, now is the time for all levels of government to get to work to protect Qat’muk through an indigenous protected area.”