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Issue Papers

02 February 2010

ISSUE - What's in it for you?

33.000 Sq km (lax yip)

Because of the steps we took, there are Gitxsan people employed now who may otherwise be unemployed: 14 on the Suskwa watershed, 8 on the Gitwangak watershed Northwest Transmission Line; fl on the trail from Gisgaga'as to Bear Lake (Dam Smaex); 20 on Gitsegukia watershed, and . were on the Administration Building in the Gisgega'as Village.

What makes this possible is the Gitxsan hereditary system - the Gitxsan alternative. Simgiigyet are very happy to see their wilnathahl' earning a living. But you don't have to take their word for it. Talk to their children that are happy in school, and can afford things like their own hockey equipment. Talk to the workers that were skeptical about the direction of the Gitxsan alternative until they were employed on lax yip that they own - earning a living as our ancestors have done!

We realize that for every success story, there are other stories, of men and women who wake up with the anguish of not knowing where their next paycheck will come from; welfare brings in $180 per month; those that have needs and week after week hear nothing in response from the band office (DIA).

The true engine of job creation for the Gitxsan are the nine watersheds, 33,000 sq. km run by the Simgiigyet. We are building this infrastructure.

The only way to move to full employment is to lay this foundation for long term economic growth and make serious investments for all people: GFEI forest license, New Ice Arena, Gitxsan Major Food store, and our youth: hockey clubs like the Bulldogs and Wolverines, basketball teams and school projects. Projects like the Suskwa Cogen, (400 employees).

After nearly a century of trying - DIA administrations, Band Council Administrations - we are closer than ever to bringing a better life to many Gitxsan people. The approach we have taken will protect every Gitxsan from living in poverty on forgotten reserves. This is a complex issue and as Simogyat Luutkudziiwus, I take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to you. With all the misinformation and misguidance by "nay sayers" the alternate process has left most Gitxsan wondering, "what's in it for me?"

Most people view the Gitxsan hereditary system as a vast improvement over the status quo. If the DIA system has a better approach that will bring down the high unemployment on our reserves, take our bands out of third party management, and take our people out of poverty, let us know. Rather than fighting the same tired battles that has dominated the Indian Act process, it is time to try something new.

As Simgiigyet, let us meet our responsibility to you - let's try some common sense.