Joffre Lake Provincial Park, also known as Pipi7iyekw, will be closed to the public until September 30th. The Lil’wat Nation and N’Quatqua First Nation have jointly decided to shut down public access to the park in order to celebrate a harvest. They are asserting their Title and Rights to their shared unceded territory and using this time to harvest and gather resources within their lands.
The closure of the park aligns with the 2021 visitor use management strategy and action plan developed by the Lil’wat and N’Quatqua in collaboration with the province. This plan supports increased stewardship by the Nations and promotes Indigenous activities such as berry picking, food sustenance, and spiritual and ceremonial practices.
The Lil’Wat Nation emphasizes its title and sovereignty over its traditional territory, which is recognized and protected by the constitution and the Supreme Court of Canada’s Tsilhqot’in decision in 2014. The Joffre Lakes are situated in the shared and overlapping unceded traditional territory of the Lil’Wat and N’Quatqua First Nations, who have occupied and used these lands since time immemorial.
The closure of the park caught the B.C. provincial government by surprise. B.C. Parks recently announced the closure on their website, stating that the park is currently inaccessible to the public. Day pass holders for Friday and Saturday will not be able to enter the park, and backcountry camping reservations until Sunday have been canceled.
Joffre Lakes is a popular tourist destination in B.C., known for its stunning turquoise blue waters. In response to overcrowding, the province implemented a mandatory free day pass program in 2021. The closure of the park will undoubtedly impact visitors’ plans, and B.C. Parks apologizes for any inconvenience caused.
Updates regarding the park’s reopening will be communicated directly to pass holders and those with reservations. For now, the Lil’Wat and N’Quatqua First Nations are requesting the public’s understanding and cooperation during this time of harvest and celebration.