A portion of the Jasper National Park is currently closed while an Indigenous group from British Columbia hunts for the next week.

As part as the ongoing reconciliation efforts with the federal government, Parks Canada is giving about nine hunters from the Simpcw First Nation special access to Jasper National Park until October 13.

“Parks Canada is supporting the Simpcw First Nation to conduct traditional harvest activities on their traditionally used lands,” Parks Canada said in a press release. “Indigenous Peoples conduct traditional harvesting for fishing, hunting, and plant collection across Canada, including in some national parks … Mule deer, whitetail deer, bighorn sheep and elk may be harvested. Harvest rates will be kept within a sustainable level based on park surveys of the species, and will not have an impact on the sustainability of the wildlife populations in Jasper National Park.”

Simpcw First Nation's chief said they won't hunt goats, moose or caribou; instead focusing on deer, elk and sheep.

“The number one priority for us is conservation and the sustainability of the species we are harvesting," Chief Nathan Matthew said. "So we’ve taken information from the Jasper National Park biologists about numbers, and there are some species we’ve decided not to harvest..."

The area closed goes from east of Snaring River, and north of Highway 16 and the Athabasca River, Parks Canada said.

The Simpcw First Nation and Parks Canada have been communicating for a number of years to plan this hunt — an opportunity he says is an Indigenous right.

“One of the first ways we can start healing and moving along in a positive fashion is to really establish the rights, indigenous rights in this country,” Matthew said.  “We don’t want to disturb that, but we also have rights we intend to exercise in a respectful fashion.”

With files from Nicole Weisberg