News release Gitxsan court Enbridge
19 January 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 19, 2012
Gitsegukla BC – On January 17th, 2012 in the Community of Gitsegukla, the Simgiigyet (Hereditary Chiefs) of the Gitxsan Huwilp (Houses) met to resolve issues related to recent court proceedings and the Enbridge agreement that have been causing difficulty within our community recently. The Gimlitxwit (meeting of the Chiefs) is the true Gitxsan form of decision making. The Gimlitxwit involves consensus building face to face dialogue and a careful review of the facts and relevant information. A strong turnout of 51 Gitxsan Huwilp met and reached the following decisions.
First, the Simgiigyet discussed the questions that have been raised in recent court proceedings about the process for the appointment of directors to the Gitxsan Treaty Society. The Simgiigyet discussed how to reconcile the Provincial Society Act requirements with Gitxsan social structure and governance according to Gitxsan Ayookw (Gitxsan Laws). " We need to stabilize our canoe and focus on the real job at hand which is to reconcile the Federal and Provincial Crown with the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs," said Simoogit Niis Noolth.
After a lengthy discussion, the Simgiigyet re-affirmed its continued support for the GTS by way of decision with 94% support to pass a resolution to strengthen the GTS by amending the Bylaws so the Chiefs of all Huwilp that wish to participate become the members and those Chiefs appoint the directors. The Simgiigyet authorized the current GTS directors to fulfill this task. They will do so and report to the Simgiigyet as this work unfolds.
In accordance with Gitxsan Ayookw Sigimdim Haanak Axgigiigi sang her limx oiy to mark the significance of this decision and the Simgiigyet stood in in silent solidarity.
Second, the Simgiigyet reviewed the the Enbridge Aboriginal Ownership Agreement signed on December 2nd, 2011 to decide whether to ratify it or withdraw from it. The potential benefits and risks of the agreement and the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project were discussed and weighed carefully. After the review, the Simgiigyet decided by a way of decision 78% to withdraw from the agreement. Much more information is required from Enbridge to inform the Chiefs on the agreement and the project and how they affect Gitxsan interests.
A final issue was that of re-opening the Gitxsan Treaty Office. The Chiefs voted unanimously that the blockade be ended and the office be re-opened.
It was a strong day as the Simgiigyet showed their solidarity on this day to support the work of the society using Gitxsan protocol and Gitxsan Ayookw. "The protection of the People, the language and the Land through Reconciliation was a strong message given to the Gitxsan Treaty Society as a clear focus for the work that needs to happen." said Negotiator Clifton Percival. "We will right our canoe and move forward in a respectful way according to Gitxsan Ayookw".
For further comment please contact:
Beverley Clifton Percival
Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs