BC’s Central Purcell Mountains part of Canada’s largest investment in nature in Canadian history

News release

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

January 18, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario

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.

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.


“I would like to congratulate the Ktunaxa Nation Council and their partners, on their work towards the establishment of the Central Purcell Mountains Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area. It took foresight and leadership from local First Nations people and other communities to get to the point where we can now better protect habitat for species at risk over this vast area, namely the Grizzly Bear, the Southern Mountain Caribou and the Whitebark Pine. Our government is proud to support you in this work by investing over $16M in this initiative.  By working together, we will reach our nature protection goal to conserve 25% of Canada’s land, and 25 percent of Canada’s oceans by 2025.”

 –The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada

“Qat'muk is the spiritual home of the grizzly bear and of profound importance to our Nation.  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.”

 – Kathryn Teneese, chairperson, Ktunaxa Nation Council

“Today reflects the strength, tenacity and courage of Kootenay people, especially the Ktunaxa First Nation. 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.”

 – The Honourable Michelle Mungall, BC Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources

“The Qat’muk Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area is critically important to the Columbia Basin’s ecological and cultural integrity. Together with the Wyss Foundation, Wilburforce Foundation, Patagonia and Donner Canadian Foundation, we are honoured to support the Ktunaxa Nation in their generation-long work to protect and conserve this area for current and future generations.”

─ Johnny Strilaeff, President and CEO, Columbia Basin Trust

“This announcement marks a significant step towards conserving an ecologically and culturally important area of the Central Purcell Mountains in perpetuity. It is vital, as we move into the future, to work together to maintain crucial natural habitats while also safeguarding living, cultural relationships with the land. The Nature Conservancy of Canada congratulates all the partners involved in this initiative for their commitment and leadership.”

 – Nancy Newhouse, BC Regional Vice President, Nature Conservancy of Canada

Quick facts

  • 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.

  •  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.

Associated links


Sabrina Kim
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Twitter page

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Facebook page

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