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Parks closure east of Snaring River for traditional hunt

by Evan Matthews |

Parks Canada will be closing the Snaring River area for a week as it allows the Simpcw First Nation to hold a traditional harvest.

The Simpcw has been communicating with Parks for a number of years regarding their wish to hold a traditional harvest on their traditionally used lands within the Jasper National Park (JNP) Boundaries, according to Steve Young, public relations and communications officer for JNP.

“Parks Canada is supporting the Simpcw First Nation to conduct traditional harvest activities on their traditionally used lands,” says Young.

“The Government of Canada is committed to reconciliation and nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown, and government-to-government relationships with Indigenous Peoples, based on a recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership,” he says.

Indigenous peoples all across the country conduct traditional harvesting for fishing, hunting and plant collection, including inside some of the country’s national parks, according to Parks.

In this instance, Parks Canada says the Simpcw will be able to hunt and harvest a maximum of 10 animals, including mule deer, whitetail deer, bighorn sheep and elk, with Parks adding the harvest supports the ecological integrity of the national park.

“Harvest rates will be kept within a sustainable level based on park surveys of the species, and will not have an impact on the sustainability of the wildlife populations in Jasper National Park,” says Young.

As conservation and public safety are shared priorities for Parks and the Simpcw First Nation, Young says Parks will implement a temporary area closure east of Snaring River, north of Highway 16 and the Athabasca River. The closure is to last from Oct. 6 to 13.

“The Jasper National Park Management Plan commits to working actively with Indigenous communities that have historical associations with Jasper National Park,” says Young.

But safety isn’t the main concern of the public, necessarily.

Though not familiar with traditional hunting practices, chairperson of the Jasper Environmental Association Jill Seaton says it’s the timing of the hunt creating some frustration among locals.

“The Snaring River area is spectacular at this time of year. The Marshes are turning a beautiful orange and red… Parks has closed it to the public over the Thanksgiving Day long weekend,” says Seaton.

Back in August of 2016, the Simpcw First Nation held a symbolic return to Téte Jaune Cache — some 100 kilometres west of JNP — 100 years after the Simpcw peoples’ forced removal from Tête Jaune to the band’s current reserve, Chu Chua.

Chu Chua is located near Kamloops, British Columbia, and is roughly 243 kilometers southwest of Tête Jaune, as the crow flies.

Local Simpcw storytellers and archives estimate between 60 and 70 Simpcw people were forced from Tête Jaune, with some renditions of the story saying the trek took long enough for a full change in season, with the Simpcw leaving Tête Jaune in the fall and arriving in Chu Chua in winter.

Simpcw Chief Nathan Matthew could not immediately be reached for comment.


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