The Ktunaxa Nation will receive $16.1 million in federal government support to protect the Qat’muk area, also known as the Jumbo Valley.
It covers 211,045 hectares in the southeastern area of BC in the central Purcell Mountains. Developers have been trying to build the Jumbo Glacier Resort there for over 25 years.
“This is an important investment in expanding protected areas, preserving nature and supporting Indigenous leadership,” said Montana Burgess, West Kootenay EcoSociety executive director.
The Government of Canada recently set aside resources to protect 10 percent of ocean and 17 percent of our land and freshwater by 2020, an important step in expanding the protection of wild places. They opened a $175 million Challenge Fund for projects to protect areas to fulfill this commitment. The provinces, territories, Indigenous Peoples, and private and not-for-profit sectors will lead the projects.
Jumbo Valley is one of 67 projects the federal government has approved; almost half are for Indigenous protected areas.
“Supporting Indigenous Peoples to oversee traditional areas, especially ones of spiritual importance, and protect their biodiversity is essential in advancing reconciliation,” said Burgess. “This is a major step forward and we’re happy to offer our views on conservation and biodiversity within the area to Indigenous leaders if they are wanted.”
The details of the protected area project are still to come, and the Ktunaxa and the Government of Canada still need to sign a contribution agreement.
EcoSociety has been part of the opposition to developing Jumbo Resort for decades and took the BC government to court in 2013 for forming a municipality and appointing a mayor, two councillors and a budget in the Jumbo Valley without any citizens.
“The Jumbo Glacier Resort development and the special Jumbo Municipality with a town council and a substantial budget is ridiculous. We don’t need a town council for a town without any people actually living in it, we don’t need a resort developed in a sacred area, home to so many important animal and plant species, like the grizzly bear, and in a high-risk area for avalanches. It doesn’t make sense on any level,” said Burgess.
Support for protecting this important wild mountainous valley has been building since the early 90s. Thousands of people have come together for almost 30 years to stand up for a wild Jumbo Valley.
“From hikes to Jumbo from the east and west, to countless rallies, to presentations all around the Kootenays about the ski resort development, to a monitoring and protest camp set up by volunteers at the proposed development, to petitions, music, films, letters, postcards and bumper stickers, people have showed up across the Kootenays and beyond to say keep Jumbo Wild forever,” said Burgess. “It feels like we’re getting close to seeing this pristine mountain area finally protected.”