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Joffre Lakes to reopen Sept. 19

Lil’wat, N’Quatqua reach agreement with province on access to popular park
The popular Joffre Lakes Provincial Park will reopen Sept. 19, but will close again for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30.

Joffre Lakes Provincial Park will reopen to the public on Tuesday, Sept. 19, the provincial government announced Thursday.

The announcement comes after "productive conversations" between the government and the Lil'wat and N'Quatqua First Nations, the province said in a release.

The park will close on Sept. 30, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, as the Nations will gather on the land that day, the release said. Day-use passes will continue to be required to access the park until Oct. 9. The backcountry camping season will close Nov. 13.

“The Lil'wat Nation greatly appreciates the time and attention put to this matter by the ministries of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. The Nation will continue to guide discussions to ensure that Pipi7iekw is being used in a matter that is consistent with our values and those of our ancestors,” said Acting Chief Chris Wells, in the release. “Pipi7iekw continues to be a spiritual place for our people and one that can support our Nation rebuilding efforts.”

All parties have agreed to continue to have regular, ongoing discussions throughout the remainder of the year and into next spring to develop a plan for park access, management, and cultural protection for future camping and recreation seasons, the release said, adding the extra time for dialogue will allow discussions to continue toward a collaborative resolution that supports reconciliation.

“The agreement reached between the Lil’wat Nation, N’Quatqua Nation and the Province is an example of our strong commitment to reconciliation and collaboration. It is a critical step forward and an important building block for future conversations on park management and access,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, in the release. “As our talks continue, we are all in agreement that we must continue predictable public access, while also giving time and space to heal the land to ensure Nations can use this space as they always have. I’d like to express my appreciation to the Nations for their dedication to this process and look forward to advancing this important work through regular, ongoing discussions that respect the Nations’ rights and culture.”

The Nations announced they were "shutting down" access to the park in a joint statement on Wednesday, Aug. 23.

In a statement sent to Glacier Media the following week, the Nations said their access to resources has not been prioritized and the Harvest Celebration closure was proposed five weeks ago. 

“While successes have been gained through our partnership in terms of implementing a cap on the number of visitors and a Day-use pass permit, access to the resources by Líl̓wat and N’Quatqua has not been prioritized,” the statement said. 

The two First Nations also said their goals have been on hold for many years and were left "overshadowed by importance placed on tourism" at Pipi7iyekw – Joffre Lakes Park. As a result, the First Nations decided they would be "shutting down" the park. 

In response to visitation growth, the Líl̓wat, N’Quatqua, and the province worked together to create the Joffre Lakes Park 2019 Visitor Use Management Action Plan. The plan helps ensure the natural resources and Indigenous cultural values of the park are protected, while continuing to provide recreation opportunities for visitors. The Nations and BC Parks have been formally engaging on park and visitor-use management since December 2018.

“I am grateful to the Nations for their collaborative approach to the management of this important space,” said Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, in the release. “We will continue to engage in dialogue so that, together, we may find long-term solutions that support all of our interests.”

More information about day passes and backcountry availability can be found online: