After talks between the provincial government and the Lil’wat First Nation, Joffre Lakes Provincial Park will remain open over the Labour Day long weekend.
The reopening has the support of all parties, according to a release Friday (Sept. 1) from the Environment and Climate Change Ministry, the Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Ministry and the Lil’wat Nation.
The park will then be inaccessible beginning Tuesday, Sept. 5 as talks continue.
“The Lil’wat Nation has been the steward of this important place since time immemorial and it is important to provide our Nations the opportunity to use this land as they always have,” said Lil’wat Chief Dean Nelson.
Nelson said the conversations with the province over the coming weeks will work to support reconciliation and the Nation’s long-term interests in the area.
The news comes after the Lil’wat and N’Quatqua First Nations released a statement Aug. 23 that it would be shutting down access to the park for more than a month. It was set to reopen on National Truth and Reconciliation Day on Sept. 30.
The Nations said they were asserting their title and rights to shared unceded territory to take time to harvest and gather resources.
Enviroment and Climate Change Strategy Minister George Heyman said as the conversations continue, the provincial government is “optimistic” a solution can be met.
Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Minister Murray Rankin said the “work of reconciliation challenges us all to find new approaches to our relationships with First Nations.”
Since December 2018, Lil’wat and BC Parks have been working together on park- and visitor-use management.
As a result of the growing number of visitors, the Lil’wat have developed a collaborative relationship with the province to develop the Joffre Lakes Park 2019 Visitor Use Management Action Plan “to ensure the natural resources and Indigenous cultural values of the park are protected while continuing to provide recreation opportunities for visitors of all abilities.”
– With files from the Canadian Press