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Starbird Pass and Mount Monica, Central Purcell Mountains, British Columbia

The Purcell Mountain Range is a land of contrasts, bordered on two sides by the largest river in the Pacific Northwest – the mighty Columbia River. This mountain range, spanning over 200,000 hectares, is known for its towering peaks and dramatic landscape and is the traditional territory of the Ktunaxa Nation. For many years, the Ktunaxa Nation Council has been working to protect this important piece of Canada’s natural heritage.

Today, the Government of Canada announced its support for this important Indigenous conservation initiative.

The Canada Nature Fund is contributing $16.1 million toward planning and engagement for this project in the Central Purcells. This funding will officially establish the protected area over the next three years. The Shuswap Indian Band, government of British Columbia, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Columbia Basin Trust, Wyss Foundation, Wilburforce Foundation, Patagonia and Donner Canadian Foundation have all helped to make this project a reality.

The Canada Nature Fund is an important part of the historic Nature Legacy investment of $1.3 billion announced in Budget 2018. The Canada Nature Fund enables the work of Canadians across the country to protect more of the nature we love and the wildlife that depend on it. Partner organizations will share in the costs for every project we support with those funds.

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The Government of Canada is already working to double the amount of protected nature in Canada’s lands and oceans by the end of 2020 and now has committed to going even further. The Government will bring forward a plan to conserve 25 percent of Canada’s land and 25 percent of Canada’s oceans by 2025.

“Qat'muk is the spiritual home of the grizzly bear and of profound importance to our Nation," said Kathryn Teneese, chair of the Ktunaxa Nation Council. "As a result of the Canada Target One Challenge funding provided to the Ktunaxa Nation Council, Grizzly bear spirit's home will become part of a larger Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area (IPCA) in the central Purcell Mountains. We are deeply appreciative of the Challenge funding as it enables us to close off a sad chapter and make a new, indigenous led beginning for Qat'muk. We are also thankful for the match funding from the Columbia Basin Trust, Patagonia, and the Wyss, Wilburforce and Donner Canadian foundations which has enabled and supported the federal funding.”

The $175-million Target 1 Challenge initiative will support ongoing progress toward achieving Canada’s Target 1 goal of conserving 17% of our land and freshwater by the end of 2020.

Canada’s network of protected and conserved areas is important to mitigate the impacts of climate change by protecting and restoring healthy, resilient ecosystems and contributing to the recovery of species at risk. Intact forests and wetlands also capture and store carbon dioxide and can help protect communities from the impacts of climate change.

“Today reflects the strength, tenacity and courage of Kootenay people, especially the Ktunaxa First Nation, said The Honourable Michelle Mungall, BC Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. "To be able to say that Jumbo, Qat’muk, will remain wild is a long time coming. That we are working towards an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area is reconciliation in action and it is the right thing to do. "Keep Jumbo Wild" is no longer a bumper sticker pleading for the very center of our region. It is a reality.”

Canada is making Indigenous leadership an important part of conservation efforts. Up to 27 Indigenous protected and conserved areas are expected to be established under the Canada Nature Fund’s Target 1 Challenge. Further, Budget 2017 announced support for Indigenous Guardians programs, which support Indigenous conservation through on-the-ground, stewardship initiatives.

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