Indigenous Communities Reclaim BC’s Joffre Lakes Park: Public Access Curtailed for Resource Harvesting

72

The Líl̓wat and N’Quatqua First Nations, two indigenous communities in British Columbia, have announced that they will be curtailing public access to a provincial park located within their traditional territories. Known as Pipi7iyekw or Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, a crowd favourite, will remain inaccessible until National Truth and Reconciliation Day on September 30.

In their joint statement released Thursday, the two nations explained that they are reclaiming their Title and Rights to the unceded territory. They plan to utilize this contentious period to harvest and gather resources within their own lands. Future wellbeing of their people was cited as their primary goal, asking for an honorable understanding that would grant them the necessary space and time to conduct Nt’akmen activities within their lands.

Follow us on Google News! ✔️


Further clarifying their position, the statement referred to a series of legal justification, including the Visitor Use Management Strategy and Management Action Plan of the provincial park. It also cited a critical precedent in the Supreme Court of Canada’s Tsilhqot’in decision asserting indigenous land rights. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was also brought as a key supporting factor.

At this time, there is no confirmation whether the provincial government had prior intimation about the closure.

Joffre Lakes Provincial Park has gained significant popularity in recent years, largely attributed to exposure through Instagram and other social media platforms. Enthusiasts frequently share snaps of its tantalising turquoise-blue waters. Visitor data reveals that the park saw an astounding 196,000 footfalls in 2019, marking a 222% jump compared to numbers recorded in 2010.

In alignment with COVID-19 induced restrictions, Joffre Lakes was among several other popular parks that enforced day-pass requirements to combat overcrowding. This new narrative heralds a different, albeit crucial facet of indigenous land rights amid reconciliation efforts.