Gitxsan Chiefs Denounce Deal With Enbridge, Say Treaty Office is Closed
Angry demonstration held in Hazelton yesterday
Calling it a turning point in Gitxsan history, a group of hereditary chiefs announced the closure of the Gitxsan Treaty Office and the termination of its executive director and two negotiators.
Spokesman Larry Patsey (Dawamuukw) of the Fireweed Clan told an angry crowd in Hazelton yesterday the chiefs had no prior knowledge of an agreement with Enbridge, announced last Friday by treaty negotiator and Hereditary Chief Elmer Derrick, regarding the Northern Gateway project.
"The first we heard about the signing was same time that you did on Friday afternoon, when we were at a feast, all up in Gitanmaax, and immediately the reaction started from our people, and their concern about not being consulted, our concern about our negotiators signing agreements outside of their mandate," Patsey said.
However, Treaty Office executive director Gordon Sebastian insists the hereditary chiefs WERE present when a protocol agreement was signed with Enbridge in April 2009.
"And on that agreement it says here the parties wish to develop a respectful and honorable ongoing relationship on the relevant issue related to potential impacts of the projects if any -- that's what the chiefs approved, and then on the purpose of the agreement it says here, the purpose of this protocol agreement is to establish a protocol between the parties regarding issues and concerns related to the project -- right here specific to the agreement signed last week, the hereditary chiefs approve this agreement -- on 3.1 it says parties will work with each other to identify potential opportunities for the Gitxsan hereditary chiefs involvement in the construction and operation of the project; so these fellas come here today and say they were not aware of it, they approved that whole relationship," Sebastian told us.
In their release, the chiefs vowed to continue their opposition to the Enbridge proposal -- and they also apologized to the Gitxsan's neighbours for last Friday's announcement.
[reported by Karin Koppitz]