After two days of meetings it has become clear the majority of Gitxsan high Chiefs and wing Chiefs are unclear of the process the GTS has taken their Nation through. It has also become apparent the identity of those the GTS consider eligible to be counted in a decision is as clear as mud.
'Who are you counting as a Chief?' has been a more commonly asked question.
The Gitxsan Nation, like other Northwest First Nations consist of High Chiefs (Simgiigyet) and lower status 'Wing' Chiefs. During the presentations on the second day it was observed the GTS was including the lower ranked chiefs in the numbers if that particular house group favoured the GTS and would not include the lower ranking Chiefs if it was apparent the house group didn't support the GTS.
The meetings, held over three days at the School in Gitsegukla, has been designed in an attempt to find a manner to legitimize the GTS (Gitxsan Treaty Society). A Judge recently determined the Society was acting in a manner which was not in compliance with the Society Act of BC. He declared it to be not legal, therefore ruling on various legal actions involving the GTS and other Gitxsan entities was not possible.
Justice McEwan issued an order that the Society correct their issues through a community based resolution.
These issues came to light during the six month blockade of the GTS office in Old Hazelton. The Blockade came down peacefully after a visit by National Chief Shawn Atleo. He and the Gitxsan involved instituted the "National Safety Protocol"; a measure designed after violent RCMP and Native clashes in the 1980's and 90's.
Some are predicting the GTS will be completely dissolved after today. Others believe the GTS will attempt to misrepresent the numbers in an effort the maintain their lucrative positions.
The GTS has indebted the Gitxsan Nation for over $20 million through this society and the BC Treaty Commission (BCTC). BCTC representatives and lawyers are observing the meetings.Read CFTK's report on day two here.