Ktunaxa divided on Jumbo

letter

Dear Editor:

Kisuk Qyu Ki’it/Greetings:

I am a citizen of the Ktunaxa Nation, a registered status Indian of the Lower Kootenay Indian Band (which is part of the Ktunaxa Nation), a Ktunaxa traditionalist, and a professional consultant in the Aboriginal sector for over 20 years. I share my views on Qatmuk/Jumbo so the public understands that the Ktunaxa Nation itself was divided when it came to Qatmuk/Jumbo.

For starters, many Ktunaxa, including myself, never heard of “Qatmuk” let alone knew where “Jumbo” was going to take place.

I was raised by Ktunaxa elders that spoke the Ktunaxa language fluently, sung our ancient songs, practised our traditional dances, and identified to me historic places where our Sun Dance, blanket dances, and winter dances were held. Most of these cultural teachers have passed on.

Not once in my 45 years did I hear of Qatmuk although I learned early on that the grizzly bear is a Higher Power, which is, what we call in our language, a “Nipika”. That is why, for example, the Ktunaxa Nation remonstrated against the Invermere store that was doing business as Nipika Outdoors Ltd. That term “Nipika” is sacred to us.

But, as a Ktuanxa concerned about our cultural integrity, I couldn’t defend a ghost. As it was taught to me by those revered Ktunaxa elders that passed on, no one can kill a spirit, and the Grizzly Bear spirit itself cannot be pushed around. The Grizzly Bear spirit is ubiquitous.

Moreover, given that the proponent of Jumbo faced a major setback in the environmental assessment process, there was no need for us to spend more money, time and energy going to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The hundreds of thousands of dollars that the leadership at the Ktunaxa Nation Council spent on a lawyer could have been spent on Ktunaxa education bursaries, Ktunaxa economic start-up grants, Ktunaxa graduation awards, investment in Ktunaxa mutual funds, suicide prevention strategies, cultural workshops, etc.

My leadership at the Ktunaxa Nation Council pushed past all the warning signs, the red flags, and internal opposition only to find who was right and who was wrong. But, I am still wondering who was running this gong show known as the Ktunaxa Qatmuk court case?

Rob Louie

Creston / Vancouver

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