Local Ktunaxa go to Victoria to voice opposition to Jumbo

Dozens of Ktunaxa Nation members from the Saint Eugene Reserve and local area converged on the legislature in Victoria Monday to raise a banner in favour of the Qat'muk Declaration.
Qat'muk is the Ktunaxa word for Grizzly Bear and the Ktunaxa declaration makes it clear that the Grizzly is an integral part of Ktunaxa culture and for this reason the Ktunaxa oppose the Jumbo Pass area ever being developed into a ski resort.
In part, the declaration reads: "The Grizzly Bear Spirit is an important source of guidance, strength, protection and spirituality for the Ktunaxa. Qat'muk's importance for the Grizzly Bear Spirit is inextricably interlinked with its importance for living grizzly bears now and in the future. The Ktunaxa have a stewardship obligation and duty to the Grizzly Bear Spirit and Qat'muk."
The declaration signed by Ktunaxa Nation Council Chair Kathryn Teneese goes on to proclaim: "That Qat'muk is the home of the Grizzly Bear Spirit and is the unique and proper place to celebrate and honour this spirit;
That Qat'muk includes the entirety of the Toby-Jumbo watershed and the uppermost parts of the South Fork Glacier Creek, Horsethief Creek and Farnham Creek watersheds.
That, to fully protect the most sacred core of the Qat'muk area, a refuge area consisting of the upper part of the Jumbo valley is hereby established."
In a phone interview from Victoria, Teneese said the Ktunaxa Nation has in effect drawn a line in the sand and said no as far as the proposed $450 million Jumbo Glacier Resort is concerned.
"The main thing is we are now very clear in terms of what our stand is on the place known as Qat'Muk. Our purpose today was to advise the province of British Columbia and let the world know where we stand in terms of our feelings about what happens in that area."
However Teneese said the Ktunaxa are open to cooperating on a management plan for the area, but when asked if that management plan would include a resort of any kind, she replied with a firm "no."
Teneese said the Ktunaxa have never extinguished their Aboriginal Title within what they regard as their territory and have continuously opposed what they regard as a potential "environmental disaster in southeastern British Columbia."
Glacier Resorts Ltd. Vice President Grant Costello said resort officials were "surprised" by the Ktunaxa declaration after 20 years of negotiations with the First Nation.
"This type of demonstration is not appropriate as part of the public process. It is not how to participate if there's any respect for the process or the other participants," Costello said.
He added the Jumbo project has followed a process that formally began in 1991 which led to an Environmental Assessment Act Certificate in 2004 that included conditions requested by the Ktunaxa Nation's representatives.
Shuswap Band Chief Paul Sam accused the Ktunaxa of not working in good faith through the provincial process on Jumbo. "It only demonstrates the Ktunaxa lack of protocol, and diminishes the cultural integrity that is of prime importance to other 1st Nations as it relates to their respective land interests."
Sam also pointed out that the Jumbo Resort would be located "solidly within the traditional territory of the Shuswap Indian Band and not the Ktunaxa."
Meanwhile Wildsight Executive Director John Bergenske issued a statement supporting the Ktunaxa's declaration.
"Wildsight respects the spiritual traditions and practices of the Ktunaxa and fully supports the Qat'muk Declaration. Wildsight is committed to help protect Qat'muk against desecration and destruction. Wildsight will work with the Ktunaxa as requested in the development of a plan for Jumbo Creek and adjacent watersheds based upon Qat'muk Stewardship Principles which Wildsight fully endorses."

Dozens of Ktunaxa Nation members from the Saint Eugene Reserve and local area converged on the legislature in Victoria Monday to raise a banner in favour of the Qat'muk Declaration.

Qat'muk is the Ktunaxa word for Grizzly Bear and the Ktunaxa declaration makes it clear that the Grizzly is an integral part of Ktunaxa culture and for this reason the Ktunaxa oppose the Jumbo Pass area ever being developed into a ski resort.

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