COLUMN: A win for Mother Nature and the Jumbo Valley

COLUMN: A win for Mother Nature and the Jumbo Valley

For the Ktunaxa people, this has been their traditional territory for 400 generations.

It was a big win for many groups on Aug. 29 when the government of Canada agreed to invest $16.1 million towards the protection of the Jumbo Valley. For nearly 30 years this captivating area, located in the heart of the Purcell Mountains, was the centre of the development of the Jumbo Glacier Resort, a project headed by Italian born, Vancouver-based architect Oberto Oberti. The 110-hectare resort would have accommodated 6,250 people and provided a year-round ski resort on the Jumbo Glacier.

From the beginning, the project had been hotly contested. This resort was in the heart of prime grizzly bear habitat and one of North America’s most important wildlife corridors, both of which would have been disturbed. In addition many had seen the development as unnecessary, adding yet another ski destination in an already saturated market. The development, which started in 1990, ended this summer when the environmental assessment certificate expired.

Jumbo Valley is located on the unceded territory of the Ktunaxa First Nation. Depending where you are from, different places will come to mind when you think of the phrase pristine mountains. Take a moment and allow your mind to imagine a place where pure crisp water pours down the mountain side, grizzly bears roam freely, and peaks and glaciers meet the eye in every direction. For many folks, the place we have just described is the Jumbo Valley.

For the Ktunaxa people, this has been their traditional territory for 400 generations. They speak of Jumbo Valley specifically as Qat’muk: home of the grizzly bear spirit and the place the grizzlies go to dance. The importance of keeping this area wild is something conservationists, local residents, and citizens all around the world felt strongly towards. There was some international recognition about this project when Patagonia covered the story of the battle between backcountry development and conservation efforts in a film called Jumbo Wild.

The real public fight for Qat’muk began in 2012 when the B.C. government created controversial changes to the Local Government Act allowing for the creation of municipalities without residents. Since then, the past seven years have been a roller coaster ride of public debate, court dates, protests, film screenings, interviews, and press releases. Finally in August, it was announced that the Ktunaxa Nation had received approval to develop Qat’muk into an Indigenous Protection and Conservation Area. The Nation will receive $16.1 million over four years to develop up to 211,045 hectares of land.

The concept was first introduced by the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation in Clayoquot Sound on Vancouver Island’s west coast in the early 1980s. These conservation areas allow First Nations to govern their land and protect the spiritual and ecological values of that land. The number of wild natural places is diminishing with every passing year due to logging and recreation developments. This is a massive win for the Ktunaxa Nation, for Indigenous rights worldwide, and for wild habitats.

Jolene Milan and Geneviève Létourneau are second year recreation, fish, and wildlife students at Castlegar’s Selkirk College.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

A vehicle rolled over off of the Highway 3 off ramp into the Home Hardware parking lot Jan. 21, 2021. Photo: Betsy Kline
Driver sent to hospital after vehicle roll over in Castlegar

Accident happened Thursday around 4:30 p.m.

Interior Health has set up a COVID-19 testing site in Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
No new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in Castlegar for Jan. 10-16

The latest localized BCDCD COVID-19 numbers

Interior Health reported 91 new COVID-19 cases in the region Jan. 20, 2021 and three additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
95 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health, two deaths

Another member of Vernon’s Noric House has passed

Long-term care staff and physicians from the priority group received their first dose of Moderna vaccine on Friday, Jan. 15, including Dr. Corrine Knox. Photo: Submitted
Moderna vaccine arrives in Castlegar

Vaccine rollout began in West Kootenay with long term care residents and staff the first recipients

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 is International Lego Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 24 to 30

Lego Day, Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day and Puzzle Day are all coming up this week

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Kimberly Proctor, 18, was murdered in 2010. Her family has spent many of the years since pushing for a law in her honour, that they say would help to prevent similar tragedies. (Courtesy of Jo-Anne Landolt)
Proposed law honouring murdered B.C. teen at a standstill, lacks government support

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has concerns with involuntary detainment portion of act

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Sunnybank in Oliver. (Google Maps)
Sunnybank long-term care in Oliver reports third COVID-19 death

The facility currently has an outbreak with 35 cases attached to it

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital surgical unit

Despite 6 South being a surgical unit, RIH said surgeries are continuing at the hospital

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

Volunteer firefighters from Grand Forks Fire/Rescue head towards the scene of fatal car crash near Gibbs Creek Road, below Highway 3, Thursday evening, Jan. 21. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Motorist dies in Highway 3 crash west of Grand Forks

City first responders were called to the scene Thursday evening, Jan. 21

Most Read