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Y2Y dismayed by Supreme Court decision on Qat’Muk (Jumbo)

Y2Y shares the disappointment of the Ktunaxa on the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision denying Ktunaxa the right to secure their spiritually important place, Qat’muk.

MEDIA STATEMENT | Nov. 3, 2017

Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative offers their condolences to the Ktunaxa Nation on the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision denying Ktunaxa the right to secure their spiritually important place, Qat’Muk.

The Qat’Muk Declaration and Qat’muk Stewardship Principles are clear in the imperative that Qat’Muk be protected, and this decision does not impact that imperative.

“We support the Ktunaxa in their goal of protecting Qat’Muk – the upper Jumbo Valley and surrounding landscape,” says Candace Batycki, Yellowstone to Yukon Program Director, BC and Yukon. “It is critical that the grizzly bear be able to roam and move and practice its unique relationship to the land and its occupants, which includes all residents of the region.”

Y2Y is also disheartened that a place viewed as an ‘object of beliefs or the spiritual focal point of worship’ (see note 1), such as Qat’Muk, which we understand from Ktunaxa is home to Kⱡawⱡa Tukⱡuⱡakʔis (Grizzly Bear Spirit), could be open to state sanctioned destruction.

“What makes this different than the destruction of the priceless collective world heritage, the Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan?” asks Batycki. “How can Canada condemn that destruction (see note 2), while opening a pathway for destruction of Indigenous sacred sites like Qat’Muk?”

Yellowstone to Yukon recognizes and supports Ktunaxa’s inherent and prior authority to their lands, and their rights to exercise their cultural beliefs and maintain the places that support cultural practices. Yellowstone to Yukon will continue to support Ktunaxa in their advocacy for Qat’Muk, and looks forward to discussions on protection, such through an Indigenous Protected Area.

The Qat’Muk area is the heart of a critical mountain ecosystem that supports untold numbers of forest dwelling species, and serves as an ecological source area for grizzlies. Qat’Muk and the surrounding mountains are also likely to act as a climatic refuge, allowing for the preservation of hydrologic and ecological functions as we move through climate change.

The recent Independent Audit of Grizzly Bear Management from the B.C. Auditor General Carol Bellringer highlighted numerous improvements needed to grizzly bear management, particularly recognizing that the degradation of grizzly bear habitat is a major risk.

“The Ktunaxa provide unique grizzly bear expertise that has been lacking from management to date,” says Batycki. “Yellowstone to Yukon looks forward to supporting the implementation of the Qat’muk Stewardship Principles.”

For further comment please contact:

Candace Batycki, Y2Y program director, B.C. and Yukon, 250-352-3830,

Note 1: As stated by the Supreme Court.

Note 2: Canada sponsored a United Nations resolution that was passed in March 2001, condemning the destruction of the Buddhas.  This resolutions “strongly called upon the Taliban to protect Afghanistan's cultural heritage from all acts of vandalism, damage and theft”. https://www.un.org/press/en/2001/ga9858.doc.htm accessed Nov. 2 2017.