Wildsight strongly supports the Ktunaxa Nation’s decades long call to have the International Joint Commission (ICJ) address the deterioration of water quality in the Elk-Kootenay River System. The IJC, with independent representatives from Canada and the United States, makes recommendations based upon consideration of science and Indigenous knowledge. Wildsight is concerned with both the Province of British Columbia and the federal governments’ failure to consult with the Ktunaxa Nation, ignoring their title and rights, and their failure to receive their free, prior, and informed consent. British Columbia’s failure to sufficiently regulate its mines has resulted in a worsening selenium contamination crisis that the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan has failed to stop.
“British Columbia and the federal governments’ actions have shown an outright disrespect for the Ktunaxa principle of reciprocal stewardship and a one-river approach. A transboundary, Indigenous-led watershed board for the Elk-Kootenay River System under the IJC is likely the only effective, impartial, long-term and science-based solution to this complex problem,” said Robyn Duncan, Wildsight’s Executive Director.
The Elk-Kootenay River System is very important to First Nations and communities on both sides of the Canada/U.S. border. “We call upon Global Affairs Canada to act on their obligations under the Boundary Waters Treaty, and on Canada’s obligation to uphold the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” said Duncan.
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