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First Nations say they’re ‘shutting down’ public access to Joffre Lakes to harvest – BC

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Two B.C. First Nations say they are “shutting down” public access to one of the province’s most popular parks until the end of September.

In a statement dated Wednesday, the Líl̓wat and N’Quatqua First Nations say the closure is in support of a harvest celebration in the area they call Pipi7iyekw and widely known as Joffre Lakes Park.

“(We) are asserting our Title and Rights to our shared unceded territory to take this time to harvest and gather our resources within our territories,” the statement reads. “We are asking you to help in honouring us by providing us with sufficient time and space that we require to conduct our Nt’akmen (our ways) within our lands.”


Click to play video: 'BC Parks warn hikers about crowds at Joffre Lakes'


BC Parks warn hikers about crowds at Joffre Lakes


The statement points to visitor use management strategy and action plans the nations jointly undertook with the province in in recent years, which include supporting Indigenous use of the area for traditional activities including food harvesting and ensuring opportunities for the nations ceremonial activities to take place in the park.

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The statement also cites Indigenous rights and title enshrined in the constitution and recognized through the Supreme Court of Canada’s Tsilhqot’in decision.

“These lands have been used and occupied by the Líl̓wat and N’Quatqua since time immemorial,” the statement reads. “In keeping with the above stated, Líl̓wat and N’Quatqua First Nation are jointly shutting down the public access to Pipi7iyekw – Joffre Lakes Park until National Truth and Reconciliation Day.”


Click to play video: 'Landslide at Joffre peak, no injuries or fatalities reported'


Landslide at Joffre peak, no injuries or fatalities reported


Global News has reached out to the Ministry of Environment, which is responsible for BC Parks, for more information.

Driven in part by its Instagram views, the Joffre Lakes have become one of the South Coast’s most popular park destinations.

In an effort to manage the impact of a surge in visitors and as a part of the Visitor Use Management Strategy, the province implemented a mandatory free day pass program in 2021.

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That same year, the province reported the park had recorded more than 196,000 visitors in 2019, an increase of 222 per cent since 2010.

 

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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