Skiers on Jumbo Mountain in the Purcell Range, known to the Ktunaxa Nation as Qat’muk. (Jumbo Mountain Resort)

LETTER: Jumbo Valley is part of Ktunaxa territorial claim

Ktunaxa Nation Council responds to Tom Fletcher column

Re: The limits of Indigenous rights (B.C. Views, Nov. 6, 2017)

Tom Fletcher’s column regarding lessons learned from the Jumbo Glacier Resort Supreme Court of Canada ruling had multiple errors in fact. On behalf of the Ktunaxa Nation Council I make the following offer of correction.

Fletcher wrote that the Jumbo Valley – Qat’muk as it is known by Ktunaxa – was not in a “declared territory” and was not part of treaty negotiations.

In fact, the Kootenay Nation Land Claim and Declaration expressed the extent of Ktunaxa territory in British Columbia, an area including Qat’muk and the Jumbo Valley, in 1981. The 1993 Ktunaxa Nation’s Statement of Intent, the foundational document for every treaty negotiation table in B.C., expresses the same territorial boundary that includes Jumbo. Furthermore, the Jumbo Valley itself was subject to repeated discussions and expressions of interest at the treaty table by Ktunaxa for many years.

The article made a series of errors in the timeline of Ktunaxa efforts to protect Qat’muk. Ida Chong was not Aboriginal Relations Minister when Ktunaxa gave the Qat’muk Declaration to the provincial government in 2010. She received our delegation on behalf of the province as a Minister of the Crown, a task she executed with grace and aplomb.

Furthermore, Adrian Dix did not invite Ktunaxa Nation to the B.C. legislature in 2011. Ktunaxa Nation was coming to Victoria with Scott Niedermayer for the one-year anniversary of the Qat’muk Declaration and Dix agreed to support our efforts less than a week prior.

Fletcher implied that our efforts are financially supported by environmental organizations. In fact, Ktunaxa Nation produced and paid for the “expensive public relations and legal offensive” as well as “the national newspaper ads, glossy press materials, custom banners and a lavishly produced video” on our own.

None of these errors credit Ktunaxa with agency. Ktunaxa Nation Council pursued these objectives without the direction or invitation of any outside party.

Fletcher wrote that Qat’muk is a myth and a legend. However disappointed we may be with the Supreme Court’s ruling, the court did not dispute Ktunaxa spiritual beliefs and practices to be genuine and sincere.

Finally, the article referenced the “assertion of veto power.” Ktunaxa Nation have not asserted nor claimed veto power through its efforts to protect Qat’muk. The constant spectre of veto is not of our creation, however much it appears in the media.

If lessons are to be learned they should be based on facts.

Troy Sebastian, on behalf of Ktunaxa Nation, Lkwungen territory

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