GITXSAN TERRITORIES, April 17, 2014 /CNW/ - After waiting for nearly two years, the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs have set a deadline of June 21, 2014 for the governments of Canada and the Province of BC to withdraw their offers of Gitxsan land and rights to the Kitselas and Kitsumkalum Bands. On April 14, 2014 the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs, at least 46 huwilp, made the decision to stop discussions with any and all proposed pipeline development if the crown chooses to ignore this deadline.
Both Crowns have signed Agreements in Principle last spring 2013 offering land and rights to these bands to be taken from the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs. The Crown has been in what is believed to be an unfair consultation process with the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs that began September 2012. In this process the Crown continually refuses to provide a Terms of Reference as to what is or is not acceptable as rights and title and operates in a vacuum of denial. There is no legislative authority for these government negotiators to make any determinations of aboriginal rights and title.
"These offers by both governments are unconscionable and without proper notice to the affected Gitxsan Simgiigyet (Chiefs)", says Negotiator Bev Clifton Percival. "The Supreme Court of BC in 2002 ruled that the Gitxsan have a strong prima facie right and good prima facie title to these very lands since 1846. The Gitxsan have better rights and title to those lands than even that of the governments under the Constitution of Canada, 1867."
"The Province of BC does not have authority to overrule the Supreme Court of Canada", says Tenimgyet, Art Mathews. "The Crown is jeopardizing the treaty they are negotiating with the Kitselas and Kitsumkalum by attempting to take legally recognized rights and title from us. This situation is occurring in no less than four other areas in BC".
Natural gas pipeline projects are being proposed on Gitxsan territory by Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Ltd (PRGT Project), Westcoast Connector Gas Transmission Ltd (Spectra Energy) and Pacific Northern Gas Ltd (PNGL). All projects will be affected by this deadline and as well by similar unfair consultation and accommodation processes attempting to illegally determine what is or is not Gitxsan rights and title.
SOURCE: Office of the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs
For further information: Gwaans (Bev Clifton Percival) office:(250) 842-6780 or cell: (250) 847-0603