Press Release: Overwhelming Majority of Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs Oppose Enbridge Deal


Gitxsan Unity Movement Press Release
Gitanmaax, B.C.
December 19th, 2011

Majority of Gitxsan Chiefs Confirm Shut Down of the Gitxsan Treaty Society (GTS)

The majority of Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs have put into writing their decision to shut down the Gitxsan Treaty Society (GTS). The Chiefs are supported by their houses and clans, and made this decision only after holding clan meetings. The decision to shut down the GTS and fire senior staff was made because the GTS was making decisions without consultation and against the will of Gitxsan houses and clans.

The society was shut down on December 5th after chiefs consulted with their clan members. Presently, 42 Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs (two thirds of the Hereditary Chiefs) have  signed a declaration stating the following:

  • The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Agreement is null and void;
  • The GTS no longer exists so it must cease operations and be shut down; 
  • The former Executive Director, and former Chief Negotiator and Negotiator are terminated; 
  • That all other staff be given notices of indeterminate lay-off; 
  • and, all Pdeek representatives (GTS board members) are recalled.

The Gitxsan Chiefs are conducting an online poll to determine support levels in Gitxsan membership for the deal with Enbridge. Preliminary results show that over 90% of Gitxsan are against the proposed pipeline.  Almost 100% are against the Gitxsan-Enbridge deal that was done on December 2nd.

A petition is underway too. Volunteers collecting Gitxsan petitions against Enbridge have collected over 1,000 signatures (600 Gitxsan; 400 supporters) and phone numbers since December 6th.

Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs note that the fired staff of the GTS continues to speak publicly and act against the wishes of the Gitxsan Chiefs and members. These staff members are the Executive Director, Negotiator, and Chief Negotiator. The Gitxsan Chiefs emphasize that the Gitxsan Treaty Society and these former staff members do not represent the Gitxsan people.

Former staff who continue to operate and spend money from GTS accounts, will cease their activity and respect the will of the Chiefs and members. Their actions include paying high-priced lawyers from GTS funds to sue their own Chiefs and members.  This is further evidence of the complete lack of respect this office has towards the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs who they claim to represent. The Gitxsan seek to settle this matter through their own law, the Gitxsan Ayookw, and wish to point out that remedies exist in Gitxsan law for those who bring harm upon the nation.  Therefore, in this matter, the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs have exercised the Gitxsan Ayookw, the foundation of Gitxsan society and culture for millennia.

The Gitxsan Unity Movement began as Gitxsan Against Enbridge in early December. The goal of the movement is to bring harmony between the Gitxsan government and the  values, law, and will of the Gitxsan. The Chiefs shut down the GTS on December 5th because they were acting contrary to Gitxsan law and values. The Gitxsan Unity movement is 100% volunteer driven, with Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs and members working in the best interest of our land, culture, and people.


About Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.