After productive conversations between the Province, Lil’wat Nation and N’Quatqua, the parties have reached an agreement for the reopening of Pipi7iekw (Joffre Lakes Park).
The park will reopen on Sept. 19, 2023, for regular public access, with the exception of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The Nations will gather on the land that day and the park will be inaccessible to the public. Day-use passes will continue to be required to access the park until Oct. 9, 2023. 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. “Pipi7iekw continues to be a spiritual place for our people and one that can support our Nation rebuilding efforts.”
The Nations and the Province have agreed to continue to have regular, ongoing discussions throughout the remainder of the year and into spring 2024 to develop a plan for park access, park management, and cultural protection for future camping and recreation seasons. This 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. “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.”
In response to the growing number of visitors, Líl̓wat and N’Quatqua, and the Province worked together to create the Joffre Lakes Park 2019 Visitor Use Management Action Plan. This 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. “We will continue to engage in dialogue so that, together, we may find long-term solutions that support all of our interests.”
All parties thank everyone for respecting park ranger guidance and Nation members, and appreciate people’s understanding and assistance in providing the space that has allowed solutions.
More information about day passes and backcountry availability can be found online: https://bcparks.ca/