Flag raising in Invermere

Hey Everyone, and Ktunaxanin̓tik in particular!
Raise the flag and celebrate with Akisqnuk First Nation!
What are you doing on May 17, 2024?
Will you be in INVERMERE?
How about swinging by the recently acquired AFN building there?
–> #625 4th Street, Invermere <–
This is to celebrate and raise the Ktunaxa Nation flag!
There will be food, entertainment, children’s activities and ʔaq̓am Nasuʔkin Joe Pierre will tell the Ktunaxa Creation Story.
Everyone is welcome and it’s going to be a beautiful day…

2024 Self-Created Summer Employment Program

Community Engagement: Indigenous Justice Centre

Ktunaxa Citizens’ Excellence Awards & Grants, 2024

Ktunaxa Citizens’ Excellence Awards & Grant


This year, you can nominate Ktunaxa Citizens for one of three (3) Excellence Honour Awards.

–>Nomination Form is HERE

You can also apply as a Ktunaxa Citizen or Group for an Excellence Grant Award.

–> Grant Award Application is HERE

You can nominate or apply no matter where you live.

Closing date is April 26, 2024.

The awards and grant aim to support and celebrate Ktunaxa excellence in the following areas:

      • Cultural Knowledge and Language
      • Sports
      • Arts and Entertainment
      • Business and Career

Ktunaxa Citizens’ Excellence Honour Awards

Honour Award Categories

These awards are given out in three categories,
and recognize excellence in one of the four areas mentioned above.

  1. Lifetime Achievement
  2. Recognition
  3. Language Learners’


The Lifetime Achievement Award
is awarded each year to someone who is still with us, and who has, during their lifetime,
made a significant contribution to the Ktunaxa Nation in any of the areas.

The Recognition Award
is awarded each year in recognition of a high level of success achieved by a Ktunaxa Citizen or Group.

The Language Learners’ Award
is awarded to those who have committed to learning the Ktunaxa language,
and who have reached a specific milestone level of formal language learning as follows:

  • Seedling (at least 100 hours of learning)
  • Bud (at least 300 hours of learning)
  • Bloom (at least 500 hours of learning)


Any Ktunaxa Citizen or Ktunaxa Citizens’ Group

The nominator must be Ktunaxa and can be a Citizen, First Nation, or Group.
The nominator(s) must complete the application form provided,
or provide a letter of no more than three pages, with the following required details:

  • Under which of the three Honour Awards is the nomination being made?
  • Name and mailing address of the individual or group being nominated
    and the name of the Ktunaxa First Nation they are affiliated with, if applicable.
  • A few paragraphs describing the person’s or group’s contribution or success in their field.
  • What this person’s or group’s involvement has meant to their community or to the Ktunaxa Nation.
  • One paragraph describing the nominator’s relationship to the nominee.
  • The signature of the nominator.

Please note, nominations that do not include all of the required information will be considered incomplete.
We will return them to the nominator for completion.
Completed nominations that are received after the stated submission date will not be considered.

The successful nominees will be selected by the Ktunaxa Citizens’ Excellence Awards Committee (KCEA).

Lifetime Achievement: Cash award of $1000
Recognition: Cash award of $500
Language Learners: Cash award of $500

Recipients will also receive a gift commemorating their achievement.

The successful nominees and their nominator(s) will be notified by letter.

Awards are presented at a Ktunaxa gathering or celebration.
The date will be in May of 2024. We are waiting on confirmation of the exact date.
The location will be at the Ktunaxa Nation Council Building in Cranbrook.
200 Cranbrook St. North

You have some options!

Mail to:
Ktunaxa Nation Council
7825 Mission Rd.
Cranbrook, BC  V1C 7E5
Attn:  Ktunaxa Citizens’ Excellence Awards

Drop off: Ktunaxa Nation Council office, 220 Cranbrook St. North in Cranbrook

Email: Rachelle Sebastian (RachelleF.Sebastian@ktunaxa.org)

or Fax: 250-489-2438

You can pick up a nomination form at the Ktunaxa Nation Council office in Cranbrook.

You can download a nomination form HERE.

This is a fillable PDF.

If you open it up in Acrobat Reader, you can type in the responses.

Then you can save it and email it to RachelleF.Sebastian@ktunaxa.org,

or print it out and mail it in to the address listed above.



Ktunaxa Citizens’ Excellence GRANTS

Excellence Grants are awarded to encourage Ktunaxa Citizens and Groups
who have reached an advanced level of success in one of the award areas.

There will be one Excellence Grant awarded in this round.

Examples of advanced levels of success would be something like competitive level sports such as Junior A or AA hockey, Level 4 or higher in gymnastics, competitive traditional dance, and practice levels of traditional knowledge or language.

Grant FAQs

Any Ktunaxa citizen or Ktunaxa Team/Group who has reached an advanced level of success in one of the award areas may apply.
Applicants may be required to provide proof of their success level, if requested.

The maximum that can be applied for is $5000 (five thousand dollars).

Applications are accepted anytime throughout the year.
Each applicant may only receive one grant per year.
Each recipient is only eligible for a lifetime limit of $5000.
If a parent or guardian is making this application on behalf of a child that is under the age of 18,
the applicant named in the application should be the child, not the parent or guardian.

Application forms are attached.
Electronic forms are also available from the Ktunaxa Nation Council Communications. (info@ktunaxa.org)
Application forms must be completed in full.
Please note, applications that are not completed in full, or do not include all of the required information,
will be considered to be incomplete and will be returned to the applicant for completion

When you fill in the application form, you will be asked for your name and contact info, plus the details of your request or need.

You will provide a cost breakdown of your expenses, and are invited to provide up to three letters of support.

Applications will be considered by the Ktunaxa Citizens’ Excellence Awards Committee (KCEA).
Approvals are subject to availability of funds, as the KCEA overall has an annual limit.

Applicants will be notified by letter if their application was approved or not.
If the application is not approved, the KCEA committee will provide the reason that it was not approved.

Mail to:
Ktunaxa Nation Council
7825 Mission Rd.
Cranbrook, BC  V1C 7E5
Attn:  Ktunaxa Citizens’ Excellence Awards

Email: Rachelle Sebastian (RachelleF.Sebastian@ktunaxa.org)

or Fax: 250-489-2438

You can find a fillable PDF form HERE.


You can also pick up an application form at the Ktunaxa Nation Council office in Cranbrook.



IJC reference: First of many steps to restore Elk-Kootenay watershed, Ktunaxa leaders say

In Partnership with the Transboundary Ktunaxa Nation, U.S. and Canada Take Important First Step to Address Mining Pollution in the Elk-Kootenai/y Watershed

The United States and Canada have finally agreed to submit the Elk-Kootenai mining pollution issue to the International Joint Commission, taking the first of many steps to begin to restore the watershed and to honor their commitments and obligations to the Ktunaxa Nation.

For Release:  March 11, 2024, 1 p.m. EDT (11 a.m. MST)

Leadership of the transboundary Ktunaxa Nation—the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, and the Ktunaxa First Nations of ʔakisq̓nuk, ʔaq̓am, Yaqan Nuʔkiy, and Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it—are encouraged to announce that the United States and Canada, in partnership with the Nation, have finally agreed to ask the International Joint Commission (IJC) to study and make recommendations to address the mining pollution in the Elk and Kootenai/y rivers through a joint reference. (Statement from the United States here and Canada here.)

The reference asks the IJC to convene a Governance Body that will develop an action plan to reduce and mitigate the impacts of mining pollution in the Elk-Kootenai watershed. This body will be comprised of impacted governments with jurisdiction and legal obligations in the watershed.

The reference also establishes an IJC Study Board that will bring experts and knowledge holders together to share knowledge and data in a coordinated, transparent process. The Nation expects this work will achieve a common understanding of pollution within the watershed and the impacts it is having on people and species, which will in turn support recommendations to the Governance Body and the public.

“This is an important first step in addressing the serious pollution problem in the Kootenai Watershed, and I am glad to see that the U.S. and Canada are finally taking their commitments to Indigenous peoples, the environment, and the international Boundary Waters Treaty seriously,” said Gary Aitken Jr., Vice Chairman of the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho. “For decades, mining has impacted our waters, our people, and our resources. While we were seeking action, things moved far too slowly, and the federal government looked the other way. We are finally starting a process where there can be collaboration, trust, and transparency. Ktunaxa said we would not stop until there was an action plan, and we look forward to seeing that through to ensure the real work of healing the river is achieved.”

Ktunaxa leadership has been urging Canada and the U.S. to address water pollution in Ktunaxa homelands for over a decade.

In March of last year, Prime Minister Trudeau and President Biden committed to “reach an agreement in principle by [summer 2023] to reduce and mitigate the impacts of water pollution in the Elk-Kootenai watershed in partnership with Tribal Nations and Indigenous Peoples, in order to protect the people and species that depend on this vital river system.” (Full statement available here.)

The summer deadline passed with no action from the federal governments. This prompted Ktunaxa leaders to call upon both federal governments to meet in ʔamakʔis Ktunaxa (Ktunaxa Territory) in November 2023 to work through the impasse and agree on a path forward. At that meeting, the governments collectively committed to find a solution—through a reference to the IJC—by the end of the year. After nearly three months of intense negotiations, the governments reached agreement, and almost exactly a year after the Prime Minister and President’s statement, the reference has finally been issued to the IJC.

Attendees of the November 2023 in-person meeting, pictured left to right:
Avery Gravelle, Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it; Sung W. Choi, U.S. Consulate General; Julie Birdstone, ʔaq̓am; Nasuʔkin Heidi Gravelle and Kyle Shottanana, Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it; Kathryn Teneese, Ktunaxa Nation Council Chair; Len Two Teeth, Vice Chair, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes; Janice Alpine, ʔakisq̓nuk First Nation; Nasuʔkin Joe Pierre and Dallas Cardinal, ʔaq̓am; Nasuʔkin Donald Sam, ʔakisq̓nuk First Nation; Sancira Williams-Jimmy, ʔaq̓am; Garry Aitken Jr., Vice Chair of Kootenai Tribe of Idaho; Anna Classen, Environment and Climate Change Canada; Garrett Gravelle, Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it; Niall Cronin, Global Affairs Canada; Jason Andrew, ʔaq̓am; and Darcy Fisher, ʔakisq̓nuk First Nation.

“For too long, the U.S. and Canada have stood by while our waters suffered,” said Michael Dolson, Chairman of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. “We are encouraged by the federal governments’ change in direction and the progress that was achieved when we all worked together these past months. We will continue to work tirelessly to restore our rivers and the fish and wildlife that depend upon them. We’re at the beginning of what will likely be a long process, one that will require sustained effort from all governments involved.”

Kathryn Teneese, Chair of Ktunaxa Nation Council, said: “It is good to see that the U.S. and Canada—in partnership with the Ktunaxa Nation— have started collaborating effectively on this issue and are working toward meeting their commitment to reduce and mitigate the mining pollution in the Kootenai/y watershed. However, just as this agreement could not have been reached without the deep involvement of the Ktunaxa Nation, future progress will require meaningful inclusion of Ktunaxa knowledge and stewardship. We are setting the foundation for an IJC, and we welcome the IJC Commissioners’ involvement in this issue. We hope this is the beginning of a collaborative, transparent, and effective process that will restore the waterways in the heart of ʔamakʔis Ktunaxa that are vital to the Ktunaxa ʔakⱡsmaknik (people).”


Full tri-lateral reference and proposal here:
Reference for the Elk-Kootenai/y Watershed | International Joint Commission (ijc.org)

Joint Statement from the Ambassador of Canada to the United States, Kirsten Hillman, and the Ambassador of the United States to Canada, David L. Cohen, on the Elk-Kootenay watershed (international.gc.ca)

Déclaration conjointe de l’ambassadrice du Canada aux États-Unis, Kirsten Hillman, et de l’ambassadeur des États-Unis au Canada, David L. Cohen, sur le bassin hydrographique de l’Elk-Kootenay (international.gc.ca)

Joint Statement from the Ambassador of the United States to Canada, David L. Cohen, and the Ambassador of Canada to the United States, Kirsten Hillman – U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Canada (usembassy.gov)

Press Contacts

Gwen Lankford
Executive Communications Team, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes

Trish Barnes
Marketing & Public Relations Coordinator
Ktunaxa Nation Council

2024 Ktunaxa Business Showcase is set for February 29

February 21, 2024

Ktunaxa Business Showcase set for February 29
Everyone is invited to the event at the Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort

ʔa·kisk̓aqǂiʔit, ʔamakʔis Ktunaxa (Cranbrook, B.C.): Everyone is invited to attend the Ktunaxa Business Showcase, coming up at the end of February. It will take place in Cranbrook at the Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort between 1 and 4 pm, and feature 36 Ktunaxa businesses, entrepreneurs and artisans.

“We’re excited about this year’s showcase,” said Jason Andrew, Director of the Economic and Investment Sector at Ktunaxa Nation Council (KNC). “The last one was in 2022, and we heard some positive feedback. This year, even more Ktunaxa businesses and entrepreneurs will be there to network and market what they do.”

Economic and Investment Sector staff have been busy helping Ktunaxa businesses update their marketing and table displays. They’ve worked with local print shops to update business cards and brochures, and have even developed branded tablecloths and banners.

Even more important though, is the opportunity to network.

“This showcase is unique,” Andrew said. “Our clients are Ktunaxa business owners, artists and entrepreneurs and communities. This is a way to present their work to the public.”

The Economic and Investment Sector operates the Ktunaxa Business Development Office. They work closely with individual Ktunaxanin̓tik clients who can access microloans, small-business development grants, business coaching, and marketing items like websites.

“Our business development office is here to support Ktunaxa businesses to elevate their success,” Andrew said.

The Ktunaxa Business Showcase takes place on February 29, 2024.

Location is the Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort in Cranbrook, and time is 1 pm to 4 pm. Everyone is welcome.

This photo shows the 2022 Ktunaxa Business Showcase.
The 2024 showcase is coming up on February 29, 2024 at the same location: Cranbrook’s Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort. Thirty-six Ktunaxa businesses, entrepreneurs, community development agencies and artists will be around to meet you—everyone is welcome from 1 pm to 4 pm.


LANDS: Open Houses for Crown Mountain Coking Coal Project

Open Houses for Crown Mountain Coking Coal Project

February 6, 2024


  • Public Open Houses are coming up in CranbrookSparwood and online about the Crown Mountain Coking Coal project.
  • In addition, there will be Ktunaxa-only information sessions later this spring.
  • The Crown Mountain Project is proposed for Qukin ʔamakʔis (the Elk Valley), and it’s worth your attention.
  • Below is some background about it, and details about opportunities for Ktunaxanin̓tik to comment.
  • LINK: Regulatory Open Houses(External link)
  • LINK: Project Executive Summary(External link)
  • COMING SOON: Ktunaxa Engagement Session Details
  • SIGN UP for UPDATES: engage@ktunaxa.org(External link)


You may start hearing more about the “Crown Mountain Coking Coal” Project in coming days.

This is a proposed “valley fill” coal mine that is proposed in Qukin ʔamakʔis, (the Elk Valley.)

The proponent is NWP Coal.

This Project proposal has been in development for a decade.

Ktunaxa Nation Leadership was made aware of the proposal in 2014.

Since that time, Ktunaxa Leadership, with support from Lands & Resources staff, have reviewed the proposed project to identify areas of concern and opportunities for Ktunaxa.

The Environmental Assessment (EA) documentation itself is a few thousand pages of information.

The EA covers a whole range of factors:

  • Where the Project would be
  • What kind of mining would occur
  • How the mined coal could be removed from the area
  • How values would be impacted: Water, wildlife, cultural sites, and cumulative effects and more
  • Which methods are proposed to protect those values or mitigate the impacts
  • Potential economic benefits and costs
  • and much more.

Now, NWP Coal(External link) has submitted its EA application to Provincial and Federal regulators, as is required.

It’s the first step in an engagement period where all members of the public can attend open houses with government regulators to learn about the proposal, and to comment.

For the general public, there is one-month period to engage, starting with open houses in Cranbrook, Sparwood, and online.

(Details are below.)


Good news:
For Ktunaxanin̓tik, the opportunity to learn about and comment on the project is longer than one month.

Ktunaxa Nation Council will conduct engagement sessions with Ktunaxanin̓tik to review keys aspects of the proposed project. Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it(External link) will also conduct engagement sessions with its members.

The feedback from these Ktunaxa-only engagement sessions will be worked into official responses that Ktunaxa Nation Council and Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it will send to regulators.

As well, regulators and the project proponent will have the opportunity to hear directly from Ktunaxanin̓tik during these additional engagements, and we’re hoping to arrange site visits for Ktunaxa later this spring.

These engagements are opportunities for Ktunaxa to have our voices heard, and to make a difference in how the project might proceed, or if it will proceed.

Because the EA is in its first stages, elements of the project design can be altered in response to our feedback.


1) Ktunaxanin̓tik Engagement Sessions: TBA

We’re planning Ktunaxa-only information sessions later this Spring, as soon as we can arrange them.

How can we contact you with the details of these sessions?

If you have signed up to be on the email list, we will send you the information.

If you haven’t signed up, please email engage@ktunaxa.org(External link)
with a request to be on the email list so we can add your contact details.

Thank you!

You can also call us at 250-489-2464, and ask for Brandy Craig.

2) February Open Houses: Public

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

12:00 – 3:00 PM MST
Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort (209 Van Horne Street)

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

4:00 – 7:00 PM MST
Causeway Bay Hotel (102 Red Cedar Drive)

3) Virtual Information Session: Public

Wednesday, February 21, 2024
5:00 – 7:00 PM MST
Click here to register:
https://ca01web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_eh5iJcv_T0GciYKxjtqfbA(External link)

CLICK HERE to see the details(External link)


NWP Coal Canada Limited is seeking a Mines Act permit, which would allow:

  • An average production capacity of approximately 2 million tonnes of coal per year from three open pits over 15 years
  • A disturbance of approximately 850 hectares
  • Employment of up to 500 during construction and 330 during operation

Full details of the Crown Mountain Coking Coal application can be found here(External link), in the Executive Summary document(External link). (121 pages)

Consultation has a purpose, Nation says


Consultation has a purpose, Nation says

And “No” is a valid outcome when it comes to projects in ʔamakʔis Ktunaxa

yaqan nuʔkiy (Where the Rock Stands [Creston, B.C.]): A recent court case filed by an American mining exploration company is trying to cut off Constitutionally required consultation with the Ktunaxa First Nation of yaqan nuʔkiy and the Ktunaxa Nation Council (KNC) and fast track a controversial new mining exploration project.

In a media release of October 16, 2023, Taranis Resources announced that it has filed a Petition with the B.C. Supreme Court regarding its Thor Project near Trout Lake in ʔamakʔis Ktunaxa, (Ktunaxa homelands).

Taranis is asking the Court to force the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation (“EMLI”) to make a quick decision on its August 2022 application for a major exploration program north of Trout Lake, near Revelstoke, in the Ktunaxa Traditional District of miȼ̓qaqas ʔamakʔis (Land of the Chickadee). Taranis is also asking the Court to declare recent public statements by EMLI Minister Josie Osborne committing her Ministry to work with Indigenous Peoples as Aboriginal Title holders to be “contrary to law.”

yaqan nuʔkiy and the KNC first learned of the new exploration program in January, 2023.  After extensive review, major concerns were identified including impacts to archaeological values, ungulate winter range, old growth forests and species at risk including mountain caribou, grizzly bear, and whitebark pine.  There are also significant concerns around water quality and important fish species, including Gerrard rainbow trout, westslope cutthroat trout, bull trout and kokanee.  Impacts to these important values translate to impacts to legally protected Ktunaxa rights.

yaqan nuʔkiy also identified that their traditional lands were under increasing development pressure without being provided any time for Ktunaxa people to develop a Ktunaxa-led vision and plan for the area.  This prompted yaqan nuʔkiy and the Lands and Resources Council of the KNC to send the Province ‘letters of non-support’ for the new exploration permit in March and April of 2023.  The Province responded in August, acknowledging those concerns and committing to further consultation. Only two months later, Taranis filed its court challenge.

“Consultation must include the possibility of denial, or it isn’t meaningful consultation,” said nasuʔkin Jason Louie of yaqan nuʔkiy. “And ‘No’ is a valid outcome of consultation.”

“It looks like Taranis wants to cut off our voice and ability to represent and protect our Indigenous title and rights. But the Crown has the duty to consult and, more important, the fiduciary duty to protect Aboriginal rights as per Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution. Taranis’ desire to fast track this project can’t trump our Constitutionally protected Aboriginal rights. We are duty-bound to the Creator to ensure respectful stewardship of our homelands, and this is our focus.”

British Columbia has committed to fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which requires the Province to respect Ktunaxa inherent governance authority and rights, and to seek free, prior and informed consent prior to the authorization of any use of lands and resources in ʔamakʔis Ktunaxa.

“The best way for British Columbia to ensure Ktunaxa rights are protected is to receive our free prior and informed consent, which in this case, has not been provided,” said Louie.

“We know that Treaty 8 Nations had to fight for years in court to finally force the Province to protect their rights from the cumulative degradation of industrial development;[1] we will not wait until things are so bad we can no longer use our lands. We are standing up now and saying we need time to plan and do things right.”

yaqan nuʔkiy disagrees that Taranis’s application has been subject to unreasonable delay.

“Ktunaxa have been stewards of our homelands for longer than 10,000 years. Colonization only happened in the last 200 years, but we have already lost so much,” said Louie. “Fourteen months in a permitting process doesn’t seem like a long time, and, in this case, matters of how many months isn’t our concern, because, yes, we are on-the-record as unsupportive. We do not consent. Our view is of the bigger picture, with the long-term health of our homelands.

“We are not an anti-mining Nation, but some areas should remain undeveloped or require time to heal. Proponents are guests within our homelands – those who respect us, who are willing to accept that not all projects are meant to be developed, and who are willing to work with us and obtain our free, prior and informed consent, are the ones we would classify as ‘good guests,’ who we are willing to host.  Proponents who do not meet these expectations will have challenges.”

Louie said he and his leadership council, along with the rest of the Ktunaxa First Nations, will watch any developments in regards to the judicial review with interest, “But, when reviewing the company’s requests of the Supreme Court, we would say that, even if the Court issued the declaration the proponent wants, it would still not create a necessity for an eventual permitting decision to be in favour of exploration or development.  The Province must still address and protect our title and rights.”


[1] Yahey v. BC 2021 BCSC 1287

For more information, contact:
nasuʔkin Jason Louie

yaqan nuʔkiy ~ Lower Kootenay Band
Email via council@lowerkootenay.com

About yaqan nuʔkiy
Historically and since time immemorial, the Lower Kootenay Band, locally known as yaqan nuʔkiy, have remained the original inhabitants of the Lower Kootenay area. The name Yaqan Nukiy literally means “where the rock stands” and refers to an important place in the Creston Valley. lowerkootenay.com

About the Ktunaxa Nation Council

The Ktunaxa Nation Council is comprised of elected officials from ʔakisq̓nuk First Nation, yaqan nuʔkiy (Lower Kootenay Band), ʔaqam (St. Mary’s Band) and Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqiʾit (Tobacco Plains Band) First Nation Communities. www.ktunaxa.org

Ktunaxa Nation calls for meeting with Canada and U.S. to address watershed pollution

The Ktunaxa Nation calls for the U.S. and Canada to meet with the Nation immediately to address watershed pollution

Trudeau and Biden Strike Out, Missing Both the End-of-Summer Deadline and the Commitment to Work in Partnership with the Transboundary Ktunaxa Nation to Address Mining Pollution in the Kootenai/y Watershed

For Immediate Release:  October 18, 2023

The United States and Canada have failed to meet their summer deadline to reach an agreement in partnership with the Ktunaxa on how to address pollution in the Elk and Kootenai/y rivers, demonstrating the federal governments’ continued lack of commitment to address this serious pollution problem.

Ktunaxa leadership have been urging Canada and the U.S. to address water quality pollution in Ktunaxa homelands for over a decade.  In March of this year, Prime Minister Trudeau and President Biden publicly committed to “reach an agreement in principle by this summer to reduce and mitigate the impacts of water pollution in the Elk-Kootenai watershed in partnership with Tribal Nations and Indigenous Peoples, in order to protect the people and species that depend on this vital river system.” (Full statement available here.)

Yet, the end of summer has come and gone without any agreement, or any real progress, in working together. This, despite numerous opportunities and ample time for all eight governments to meet, including at the federal bilateral meeting in April, the Upper Columbia United Tribes (UCUT) transboundary mining conference in September, and even the federal bilateral meeting happening this week in Ottawa.

Ktunaxa were initially encouraged by President Biden and Prime Minister Trudeau’s March commitment which acknowledged the need for a solution—developed and implemented in partnership with the Ktunaxa—for the Elk-Kootenai watershed.  Yet this initial encouragement faltered as engagement with the federal governments—particularly Canada—following the statement’s release was nearly nonexistent, and a far cry from a “partnership.”  The lack of engagement and collaboration led Ktunaxa leadership to convene in June to pen their own solution which was sent to federal governments in mid-July.

The Ktunaxa proposal includes a reference to the International Joint Commission (IJC), along with a Ktunaxa-Federal action plan.  This “two-pronged approach” is based on (1) the need for an IJC-established Watershed Board to conduct an independent, transparent, and accountable scientific assessment of pollution in the watershed and perform ongoing monitoring, and (2) the parallel need for a governance plan that guarantees both federal governments and all six Ktunaxa governments an equal seat at the table to immediately begin to implement solutions, restore the waters, and ensure effective regulation and management of the watershed going forward.  The Ktunaxa proposal aims to bridge the draft IJC reference put forward by the U.S. and the call for a governance table from Canada. 

Yet, despite the fact that Canada has had proposals for an IJC reference from the Ktunaxa Nation, the U.S., and even British Columbia since mid-July, Ktunaxa did not receive even an acknowledgment of the proposal from Canada until September 21—one day before the end-of-summer deadline.

“We were encouraged that the U.S. and Canada committed to reaching an agreement—in partnership with the Ktunaxa—on the damaging pollution in the Kootenai/y watershed by this summer, and we were even more encouraged when British Columbia—a long holdout—indicated their support for an IJC reference in July,” said Tom McDonald, Chairman of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

“With B.C. on board, we now have all crucial governments in support of an IJC reference, except for Canada. We simply can’t understand what is holding Canada back and keeping them from honoring their promises to Indigenous peoples, the environment, and the International Boundary Waters Treaty,” McDonald continued.

Remarks made at a conference at the end of September by a Global Affairs Canada representative that “Canada knows that they are late with their homework” have spurred Ktunaxa Leadership to initiate a government-to-government-to-government meeting to be set in November.

“There has not been a single multi-government meeting to discuss solutions,” Ktunaxa Nation Chair Kathryn Teneese said.

“While the United States has met regularly with the staff of the full transboundary Ktunaxa Nation, Canada has not done the same. And, there haven’t been any meetings between the U.S., Canada, and the Ktunaxa Nation all together, despite our repeated requests and numerous opportunities and ample time for that to occur.”

The Ktunaxa Nation invites Canada and the United States to immediately make good on their promise and meet with the governments of ʔakisq̓nuk; ʔaq̓am; Yaqan Nuʔkiy; Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡiʔit; Kupawiȼq̓nuk [Ksanka Band, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes]; and ʔaq̓anqmi [Kootenai Tribe of Idaho] and are initiating a meeting in the coming weeks.

“We must come to a solution before the end of the year — we were strung along in 2022, and then again in 2023 with a target of end of summer.  The governments need to show that their deadlines, and their intent to meet them, are meaningful.  We cannot accept any more broken promises.  We have been asking for action on this issue for more than a decade, and we can’t wait any longer,” said ʔaq̓anqmi Vice-Chairman Gary Aitken, Jr.

“We thought the commitment to work in partnership with the Ktunaxa Nation meant that all eight governments would sit down together to reach an agreement, but nothing could be further from the truth. Since the U.S. and Canada are not able to set up a process for reaching agreement, the Nation has no choice but to set one up so that we can actually address the devastating pollution in the Kootenai/y watershed.”



Press Contacts

Gwen Lankford, Executive Communications Team, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, gwen.lankford@cskt.org

Trish Barnes, Marketing & Public Relations Coordinator, Ktunaxa Nation Council,
Contact via info@ktunaxa.org


2023 Ktunaxa Literacy Day

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