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News Release - Gitxsan respond to Kitselas AIP Sept 10, 2012.

News Release - Gitxsan respond to Kitselas AIP Sept 10, 2012.
10 September 2012


September 10, 2012

Province ignoring Gitxsan interests in offer of Gitxsan land to Kitselas First Nation

Hazelton B.C. - The Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs are expressing concern over the details of a draft Agreement in Principle between the province of BC and the Kitselas First Nation released today. The offer contains land that is part of Gitxsan traditional territory. This is being done without proper consultation or accommodation of the affected Simgiigyet (Chiefs).

“We are quite surprised and shocked to see our lands are part of this offer, considering the Gitxsan have legally enforceable title,” said Simoogit Skaýan (Anita Davis), “Under the circumstances, any trespass will not be tolerated as the province cannot ignore the law.”

In the 2002 Yal et al decision in the Supreme Court of BC it was found the Gitxsan had a strong claim of rights and a good claim of title. The Gitxsan practice an effective land tenure system over their 33,000 sq km of territory which has been in place for thousands of years. The title of the lands rests with the wilp (houses) of the Gitxsan Nation. On the other hand, the band`s jurisdiction rests on the reserves which were created around 1938.

“Clearly, the Gitxsan strength of claim is better than that of Band Councils. Indian Act bands do not have any land tenure off reserve and the province does not have constitutional authority to offer land belonging to the Gitxsan,” says Gwaans (Bev Clifton Percival), “We have asked provincial and federal negotiators at our table for information but have gotten no response yet.”

The Gitxsan Chiefs Office will work with the affected huwilp (houses) and look forward to meeting with the province ASAP to get an explanation.


For further comment please contact:

Beverley Clifton Percival

Office of the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs

Anita Davis
Office of the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs