Memorandum of Understanding moves forward on Canada’s newest Okanagan-Similkameen National Park Reserve

For Immediate Release

Memorandum of Understanding moves forward on Canada’s newest Okanagan-Similkameen National Park Reserve

Vancouver, July 2, 2019 –  The Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Catherine McKenna, joined by British Columbia’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, George Heyman, Chief Clarence Louie, Osoyoos Indian Band, and Chief Keith Crow, Lower Similkameen Indian Band announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding for the proposed National Park Reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen. The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society’s BC Chapter (CPAWS-BC) welcomes this National Park Reserve decision as a critical step toward Canada’s 2020 biodiversity targets and protecting the future of intact ecosystems.

Research shows an unprecedented global decline in biodiversity and Canada’s grasslands are among the world’s most threatened ecosystems. Less than 10% of grasslands remain in their natural state exposing existing at-risk species to intensifying environmental threats like climate change. For over 15 years, CPAWS-BC has worked with local communities to establish a National Park in the area that will help to protect key ecosystems and culturally important places. Earlier this year, a Parks Canada-led public consultation, as well as First Nations self-led community engagements, played a significant role in discussions between the three levels of government on whether or not to move the park forward into negotiations. 

Members of the Okanagan Nation Alliance have been stewards of these lands for generations and are integral to informing every stage of this process. Lower Similkameen Indian Band and Osoyoos Indian Band leadership will continue to drive meaningful protective measures alongside Parks Canada’s renewed commitment to preserve ecological integrity.

“It is amazing to see so many diverse voices working together,” says Bruce Passmore, Executive Director of CPAWS-BC, “this is the first time all three governments are working together on one agreement. Nature needs this type of leadership in Canada.”

CPAWS-BC is looking forward to ambitious protection and management plans in the interim of the long-term preservation of the area.


For media inquiries, contact:

Bruce Passmore, Executive Director, CPAWS-BC; 604-685-7445 x23

Doreen Olson, Coordinator, SOSNPN; 250-497-6889

Memorandum of Understanding: here

“What We Heard” report for Parks Canada: here

Cover photo credit: Graham Osborne

South Okanagan-Similkameen grasslands. Photo credit: Graham Osborne