Statement: KNC on released documents regarding Kootenay Watershed pollution

Documents: Global Affairs Canada shelves a joint international initiative to address Kootenay watershed selenium contamination

Canada’s failure to respect binding international law and address pollution is a serious concern to all who call the Kootenay watershed their home  


ʔa·kisk̓aqǂiʔit (Cranbrook, B.C.):

The Ktunaxa Nation Council Society (KNC) recently received documents under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA) which show the Province of B.C. may have pressured Canada to drop its support for a joint US-Canada study into pollution in the Kootenay Watershed. The documents are posted on the Provincial website.

In April of 2022, Global Affairs Canada notified KNC that it would no longer support a ‘reference’ to the International Joint Commission (IJC) to study and seek solutions to the transboundary selenium contamination due to mining activities in the Elk Valley in British Columbia.

The IJC is an independent Canadian-U.S. body that mediates transboundary water disputes. It is guided by the Boundary Waters Treaty, signed by Canada and the United States in 1909.

The released documents reveal that officials from the highest levels of the Federal and provincial governments engaged in discussions about the reference which excluded Ktunaxa and ignored Ktunaxa title, rights and governance authority.

In the context of continued pollution, the abandonment of the IJC reference for the Kootenay watershed by Canada came as a shock to the Ktunaxa First Nations and sister tribes in the U.S., the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) and Kootenai Tribe of Idaho (KTOI).

The failure of Canada to live up to and respect binding international law is a serious concern to all who call the Kootenay watershed their home.

Global Affairs Canada (GAC) had been working with US Department of State on a concept paper to support the possible joint reference which was intended to be shared at the April, 2022 bilateral meeting. GAC refused to share the draft paper and other critically important information with the Ktunaxa First Nations, while sharing information with B.C. directly and allowing the province to access Federal decision makers. This is a breach of the federal government’s duty to consult.

Despite both Canada and B.C. having committed to fully implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), the released documents fail to demonstrate, or even acknowledge, these commitments. UNDRIP includes the recognition of the rights and jurisdictions of Indigenous Peoples, and the obligation of governments to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before making decisions or taking actions that affect their rights and lands.


For decades the Province of B.C. has approved coal mine developments in the Elk Valley which have been shown to impair the water quality of the Kootenay watershed.

Leadership of the Ktunaxa First Nations have expressed concerns about the cumulative effects of industrial activities in the watershed and the failure of provincial and Federal regulatory regimes to mitigate the impacts.

Ten years ago the joint councils of the KNC, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) and Kootenai Tribe of Idaho (KTOI) first requested Federal action through a reference to the IJC regarding concerns for the Kootenay watershed and ʔa·kxam̓is q̓api qapsin (All Living Things) within it.

This spring selenium levels at the international boundary peaked at 2.4 micrograms per litre, which is three times Montana’s site-specific selenium standard of 0.8 micrograms per litre.

Exceedances of this magnitude pose risk to aquatic life. In light of these risks, there is a long-standing need for Federal involvement in the non-partisan search for solutions.

The Ktunaxa First Nations and the KNC continue to support the requests made by Montana Department of Environmental Quality, CSKT and KTOI, and the US Environmental Protection Agency and US Geological Survey to have an IJC reference that evaluates and makes independent, scientifically based recommendations on the transboundary selenium contamination in this watershed.

While there has been unprecedented support from the IJC commissioners and from US Department of State, the Canadian government remains non-committal on meeting its obligations and commitments to ensure that the waters of the Kootenay watershed are healthy for the generations to come.

The Ktunaxa First Nations stand united with the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in the Ktunaxa principle of reciprocal stewardship of ʔa·kxam̓is q̓api qapsin and a one-river approach, irrespective of any imposed international boundary.


Contact: Ktunaxa Nation Council

To review the released documents: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/enSearch/detail?id=26EE74C124B8476EA280E7A3C823A2D8&recorduid=OOP-2022-21404&keyword=FOI

For more information regarding the IJC see:




#KtunaxaHomelands campaign earns national award

#KtunaxaHomelands Earns National Award
from the Economic Developers Association of Canada

ʔa·kisk̓aqǂiʔit / Cranbrook, BC (October 26, 2022) – The City of Cranbrook recently accepted a national award from the Economic Developers Association of Canada (EDAC) for Best Advertising Campaign.

The award recognized the exceptional work produced in the Ktunaxa Homelands campaign, which launched in the spring of 2022.

The campaign, which depicted the Ktunaxa Creation Story through a three-part video series, was a collaboration between the Ktunaxa Nation, Cranbrook Tourism, Tourism Fernie and Tourism Kimberley.

The Ktunaxa Homelands campaign aims to help locals and visitors gain an understanding of how the Rockies and Kootenay waterways were formed, while appreciating the significance of the Hoodoos, all from a Ktunaxa perspective.

The Ktunaxa Nation Council Economic Investment Sector and their partners started work on the promotional campaign in 2020.

Janice Alpine, responsible for Ktunaxa Tourism Engagement, recognized that the Kootenay Region—her homeland of Ktunaxa ʔamakʔis—was not a well-known location, yet was a part of “SuperNatural BC,” and “Beautiful BC” campaigns.

Alpine recognized that the Ktunaxa story and perspective were needed to support those campaigns, and were clearly missing.

“As we reclaim our stories of the land, we can now share with our neighbours and visitors,” she said. “We want to create an experience to be held in the memory, which can be taken away and revisited anytime.”

Darren Brewer, Business Development Office for the City of Cranbrook accepted the award at the EDAC’s annual conference in Kingston, Ontario, in early October.

“It was an honor to accept this prestigious national award on behalf of our communities,” he said. “Ktunaxa Homelands won the award for ‘Best Advertising Campaign’ in its budget category, and was a ‘best of budget’ contender for the EDAC Cup, which recognizes the top-three, ‘best-of-the-best’ in Canada.

“Thank you and congratulations to everyone who contributed, especially to Janice Alpine and Kristy Jahn Smith, whose vision and passion created this meaningful initiative. This award is a testament to teamwork, and it provided a national stage for the Ktunaxa Homelands project.”

Alpine said that “Visitors to our homelands are looking for answers to questions like ‘Is there a tribe here?’ and ‘What did they use this land for?’ They want to know about places they visit, the places they paddle, hike to, bike through. Right where they are standing—what does that place mean to Ktunaxa?”

She added that it was only through the support of the partners, including the destination management organizations, Columbia Basin Trust, Destination BC and Ktunaxa citizens, that the Ktunaxa Homelands campaign was realized.

Collaboration Lead Kristy-Jahn Smith of Cranbrook Tourism, said, “Visitors to our region want to know the history of this place, and we know we have a role to play in communicating the broader history of our region and its first peoples.

“We want to support Ktunaxa in telling their stories in their words. I feel we have achieved that in this collaboration, and look forward to more work together in future.”

The project spanned across the Ktunaxa Homelands, including the communities of Cranbrook, Kimberley, and Fernie, and was supported with funding from the communities as well as the Columbia Basin Trust, Destination British Columbia.

Learn more at cranbrooktourism.com/blog/the-creation-of-the-ktunaxa-homelands.

Media release from EDAC: Ktunaxa Homelands – EDAC

Download (PDF, 275KB)

Pop Up Focus Groups on ʔamakʔis ʔaȼ̓pu

The goal of this project is to begin to develop a Ktunaxa knowledge base on cumulative effects for the benefit of Ktunaxa communities.

Please see the poster for information…

  • October 17th is for booking individual interviews (either in person for via zoom), 1-2hrs in length
  • October 18th we are offering an open house/round table session for two hours over lunch (from 11-1pm)
  • We could also offer interviews on the 18th before or after the round table, upon request.

Download (PDF, 948KB)

Fall Covid Booster Clinic: Drop In on October 13, 2022

The Ktunaxa Health Nurses will  be offering a Drop in COVID fall booster clinic for those aged 18+.

One dose is recommended for everyone 5 years of age and older, however at this clinic we will only be offering the adult  product for those 18 years and older.

It is recommended that people wait at least 6 months after their primary series or previous booster to get their fall booster.

This is because more time between doses may result in better protection against COVID-19. However, the fall booster may be given as soon as 3 months after a primary series or previous booster.

At this clinic you will be offered the bivalent Moderna vaccine . Bivalent vaccines provide better protection against the Omicron variants of COVID-19.

What does Bivalent mean? A “bivalent” COVID-19 vaccine targets two COVID-19 strains.

On September 1, 2022, Health Canada approved the Moderna Spikevax Bivalent COVID-19 vaccine for use as a booster dose in individuals 18 years of age or older.
This is the first bivalent Omicron-containing mRNA COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Canada.
This vaccine targets two COVID-19 strains; the original COVID-19 virus from 2019 and the Omicron BA.1 variant. It is only approved for use as a booster dose. It is safe and effective.
This vaccine is anticipated to provide stronger and broader protection, including against the Omicron variants that have been circulating and continue to be the most common subvariants in BC.

“Bivalent” or combination vaccines are very common—the most common is the influenza vaccine which protects against 3 to 4 strains of influenza.

Tell me more about the clinic ?

WHO: Anyone 18 years and older who identifies as Indigenous, who has had 2, 3 or 4 doses of COVID vaccine previously.

WHAT: Bivalent Moderna vaccine is being offered

WHEN Thursday October 13th between 9am-12pm DROP IN

WHERE @ the Ktunaxa Health clinic. Please enter through the outside clinic doors.

WHY: The Bivalent Moderna vaccine is recommended this fall for anyone who has previously received 2, 3 or 4 doses of COVID vaccine. This bivalent vaccine provides better protection against the variants of COVID-19.

Have questions ? Click the link below, or call the Ktunaxa Health nurses 250-420-2700


If you do not identify as indigenous or this date does not work for you, please follow this link for alternative booking options. You can also book an appointment for your child through interior health, public health.






Ktuq̓ȼqakyam: ¢̕upnakutnamu (Fall, 2022)

Click on the image below to open up the issue…
Next issue is set for Winter… to send in stories, photos, news tips and events, please email news@ktunaxa.org.

KNC Education and Employment Sector Council Endorses Dr. Stan Chung for trustee in SD5

Download (PDF, 197KB)

Connection to the Land, 2022

Download (PDF, 365KB)

Download (PDF, 552KB)

Download (PDF, 126KB)

Download (PDF, 3.46MB)


Malyan Michel 2022 Bursary Application

This $500.00 bursary was established in 2000 by friends and family of Malyan Michel to recognize deserving post-secondary students from the Ktunaxa Nation.

Malyan was a language and culture teacher and always encouraged people to return to school and further their education while still holding onto their Ktunaxa heritage.

This bursary has been awarded to 32 Ktunaxa Nation students totaling $16,000.

The funds for these bursaries are raised every year through raffles and 50/50 draws, as well as donations from our generous supporters.

We would like to thank everyone for their continued support over the years.

~ Courtesy of Cindy Sutherland

[The application form is a PDF document posted below. It may take a minute or two to load.]

Nominations deadline: July 15, 2022

Bursary awarded: July 20, 2022

Download (PDF, 41KB)

KNC thanks golfers and sponsors of 2022 Charity Golf Tournament


June 30, 2022

Ktunaxa Nation Council thanks golfers and sponsors
KNC Annual Charity Golf Tournament a roaring success after two-year hiatus

ʔa·kisk̓aqǂiʔit (Cranbrook): The Ktunaxa Nation Council was pleased to host the 20th Annual Charity Golf Tournament on June 16, at beautiful St. Eugene Golf Resort. A total of 148 golfers played 18 holes of golf then enjoyed a gourmet dinner in the resort pavilion.

“I wish to thank the golfers, sponsors, donors and volunteers who made this tournament a success,” said Kathryn Teneese, Chair of the Ktunaxa Nation Council.

“The tournament was cancelled due to Covid-19 for two years in a row; so this one was very special.” (This would have been the 22nd annual tournament if not for the break due to the pandemic.)

The Charity Golf Tournament is a fundraiser for the KNC Traditional Knowledge and Language (TKL) Sector, which works towards ensuring the language and culture of the Ktunaxa people moves towards the forefront and is woven throughout all KNC initiatives in Lands & Resources, Education & Employment, Economic Investment and Social Investment.

“The TKL Elders Advisory working groups, TKL staff, and all those tending to Ktunaxa Language and Culture can benefit from the monies raised by the tournament,” said Teneese. “Now that pandemic restrictions are lifting, we will be able to enjoy more in-person language and cultural activities together, and for that I’m grateful.”

The tournament also serves as a valuable networking event, with major organizational and business partners contributing as sponsors and sending teams, and with lots of Ktunaxa teams and players on the links. Many local businesses contributed items for the silent auction to support the event.

“I appreciate the generosity demonstrated by the sponsors, donors and volunteers,” Teneese said. “As a lead-in to Indigenous Peoples Day, the tourney brought us together to enjoy a game of golf, and that increases our capacity throughout the year in our language and culture programs.

“I would also like to extend a special thanks to the team at St, Eugene Golf Resort Casino, including Cindy Soukoroff, Head Golf Pro, who took care of so many details to help us get the tournament back on track, and Barbara Fisher, TKL Language Coordinator, who spoke and offered the prayer before the meal.”


Ktunaxa Nation, U.S.: Calling on Canada to address Kootenay watershed pollution that ‘crosses the line’


On June 7, 2022, the six governments of the Ktunaxa Nation met with United States government representatives to discuss watershed pollution from mining in Canada that ‘crosses the line’ into the United States. They met in Bonners Ferry, and are calling on the Canadian government to participate with the U.S. on a joint reference to the International Joint Commission to address water quality issues.

Ktunaxa Nation, U.S.: Calling on Canada to address Kootenay watershed pollution that ‘crosses the line’

Canada must uphold its commitment to Ktunaxa ʔaqⱡsmaknik (Ktunaxa people) by participating in a joint submission to the International Joint Commission (IJC)

ʔa·kisk̓aqǂiʔit (Cranbrook, B.C.):
On June 7, 2022, the six governments of the Ktunaxa Nation met with United States government representatives to discuss watershed pollution from mining in Canada that ‘crosses the line’ into the United States.

Nasuʔkins (Chiefs) and council members assembled from the six Ktunaxa governments of Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it First Nation [Tobacco Plains]; ʔakisq̓nuk̓ First Nation [Windermere]; Yaqan Nuʔkiy [Lower Kootenay Band]; ʔaq̓am [Cranbrook];  K̓upawiȼq̓nuk [Ksanka Band, Confederated Salish and Kootenay Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation]; and ʔaq̓anqmi [Kootenai Tribe of Idaho].

Joining them were representatives from the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Geological Survey. The group met on the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho’s reservation lands in Bonners Ferry, Idaho.

“We met with our sister Tribes and the U.S. Government to discuss the next steps in addressing the pollution issue in the Kootenay watershed,” said Nasuʔkin Heidi Gravelle, of Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it First Nation. “The governments of the Ktunaxa Nations formally asked the Government of Canada to participate in a joint reference to the International Joint Commission, which would help ensure the matter is addressed objectively.”

The Nation’s request has been outstanding since December of 2021. Despite encouraging early conversations with the Nation, by April of 2022, Global Affairs Canada indicated it would no longer be considering an IJC reference. The Ktunaxa Nation responded swiftly with a letter calling on Canada to reverse its decision and resume engagement on the reference.

To date, no formal response to the Nation’s letter has been received.

In contrast, on June 8th, the U.S. Department of State reaffirmed  the U.S. government’s commitment for IJC involvement, saying it would underscore “… a commitment to strengthening Nation-to-Nation relationships by listening to Tribal priorities and respecting Tribal sovereignty.”

The Department also said the IJC would be a next step in meeting “the need for impartial recommendations and transparent communication.”

The IJC is an impartial body made up of three commissioners from each respective country.

It provides the expertise and institutional independence to review, assess, and provide recommendations to address the pollution that affects the Kootenay watershed.

“It is the view of the Ktunaxa governments that the IJC reference is of great value,” said  Nasuʔkin Gravelle.

“Generations of mining impacts in the Kootenay River watershed have led to a violation of the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty between Canada and the U.S. Now we’re demanding meaningful dialogue in accordance with Canada’s own affirmations that ensure its laws and behavior are consistent with implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.

“The missing piece here is Canada’s seeming refusal to participate in a joint reference submission to get the ball rolling on viable, science-based, solutions,” Nasuʔkin Gravelle said.

“It’s a disappointment, and a sad day for reconciliation, when progress on dealing with the pollution of our waterways is blocked by a Federal government claiming to be ‘committed to reconciliation’.”

Meanwhile, the collaboration and respect the U.S. government has shown to the Indigenous governments did not go unnoticed.

Nasuʔkin Don Sam of ʔakisq̓nuk First Nation recognized the transparent and respectful dialogue as something Ktunaxa north of the 49th parallel want the Government of Canada to strive towards.

“There is both a science and a political problem here,” he said. “We are learning how those components are working together, and I look forward to us overcoming these challenges.”

Nasuʔkin Jason Louie, of Yaqan Nuʔkiy, shared the following remarks: “These waterways are known as the veins of the earth that connect our people. We travel by these waterways, from Yaqan Nuʔkiy down to this community [ʔaq̓anqmi]. All our communities are connected by the waterways. In human anatomy, if the veins are clogged then we are sick. You can, and you will, die. We are witnessing the death of these veins, these waterways. If these veins were clean, we would be in a different place in our communities.”

He added, “We consume the fish. At one time, we used to drink the water. We have never put waste into water, because water is life. The decisions that we make must be based in science, directed by science.”

Nasuʔkin Gravelle said the governments of the Ktunaxa Nation are calling on Canada to uphold its commitment to Ktunaxa ʔaqⱡsmaknik (Ktunaxa people) by participating in a joint submission to the IJC.

“Further, we call upon Canada to recommit to consent-based engagement with the Ktunaxa Nation on a joint IJC reference. There are vital reasons for it to proceed, including protecting the health of Ktunaxa ʔaqⱡsmaknik, restoring kyakxu (fish) health and water quality, and promoting transparent and Indigenous stewardship and ecosystem management.”


Trish Barnes

Ktunaxa Nation Council
Communications Support

Download (PDF, 305KB)

Next Page »