The Gitxsan hereditary chiefs have set a deadline
of June 21 for the governments of Canada and British Columbia to withdraw offers of land and rights claimed by Gitxsan to the Kitselas and Kitsumkalum. The hereditary chiefs will stop discussions on proposed pipeline development if the Crown chooses to ignore this deadline, reads a press release. Agreements in Principle signed last spring offers land and rights taken from the Gitxsan hereditary chiefs, they say. As a result, the Gitxsan believe the Crown has been in an unfair consultation process with the Gitxsan that began in September 2011. “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.” Tenimgyet, Art Mathews said the province does not have the authority to overrule the courts. “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 B.C.” 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, say the chiefs.