One week ago today the Gitxsan Treaty Society (GTS) issued a news release through a national news release service called CNW (Canadian News Wire). This news release declared a decision by a Judge hearing a case in Smithers. The Case was (and still is) between the GTS and a group of Hereditary Chiefs and Band Councils under the name ‘Spookw’. Spookw initiated the lawsuit in 2008 and is claiming the GTS is illegitimate.
The news release issued last Friday declared the Judge determined the GTS was a legal entity. The Hearing was still in session on Friday and at the conclusion of the hearing the Judge made no such pronouncement. On January 10, 2012, Judge McEwen declared the society was operating illegally and stated he did not want to hear any more arguments from their legal team on the issues. He did however permit the GTS to attempt to find a way to legitimize their organization and provide a time frame for the arguments for and against to be presented to the Court.Read more here
Friday afternoon, March 9, 2012, Judge McEwen stated he would attempt to reach a decision on the issue and on the evidence presented, as quickly as possible. No decision was handed down.
The news release by CNW, prepared and issued by GTS representatives, seems to have premeditated the decision by Judge McEwen. It boldly stated in the headline and in the contents the Judge declared the GTS is legal and always has been. Read the News Release Here
The GTS came into Provincial prominence when Enbridge and Elmer Derrick held a national news release conference call on the signing of a partnership agreement. This came on the heels of a declaration by 131 First Nations groups opposing Enbridge and their Northern Gateway proposal the day before. The Vancouver Sun proclaimed the legitimacy of this Enbridge/Gitxsan partnership with a front page bold headline the next day even though the declaration by those opposed was much more significant and received scant inside page coverage.Read our report on the News Conference here
Paul Stanway, the Media Relations spokesperson for Enbridge, is one of Canada’s most senior media personalities. A former publisher of the Edmonton Sun, the former Public Relations head, Director of Communications for Alberta’s Premier Ed Stelmach and formerly circulating through almost the entire Canadian media circle, Stanway knows everything about manipulating and controlling the message the Canadian public receives. He has written numerous books on the subject and has now been on both sides of the media, those wishing to have a message delivered and those controlling it.
We asked Stanway about Judge McEwen stating the GTS was illegal and how the company he now speaks on behalf of felt about signing an agreement with an illegally operating society. He interrupted as we were first asking Janet Holder about how Enbridge, a firm of international stature could miss the most basic tenet of corporate duty, ensuring the entity you are doing business with is legal. He was somewhat flustered and claimed the Judge had his own point of view and they had another.Read more here
It would appear the media skills of Stanway are being used to pre-empt the Judge and to mislead Canadians and the Gitxsan. CNW, a reputable news service, has been used to deliver a message, picked up by numerous media outlets, and delivered as truth when it is patently false. Stanway would know how to do this.
This is not an activity foreign to the Gitxsan. The governments and international traders have been interfering with and deceiving them for a century and a half. In 1872 a group of miners burnt a number of houses and totems in the community of Gitsegukla, which resulted in the Skeena River Rebellion and a blockade though no real compensation promised was delivered. Later, a Hudson’s Bay trading post was under siege after a group of “Police” shot Kitwankool Jim as he was attempting to surrender even though his crime had been settled peacfully under Gitsxan law over a year earlier. And again the promised compensation was never delivered.
Then the Surveyors came to map out reserves and the Chiefs, after being offensively insulted by the head surveyor, Vowell, stood up again in defensive of their territories.
In 1927 several Chiefs were arrested for attempting to stop the survey crews.
The forbidding of the potlatch and the residential schools continued the hardship on the Gitxsan Nation for the next 50 years. In the 1980’s and 1990’s they began to regain their strength and dignity after the Nisga’a attempted to claim much of their territory during treaty negotiations which resulted in an extensive compilation called “Treaty Boundaries in the Nass Watershed” published by the UBC Press in 1988.
When the BC Government began once again to encroach upon their lands and rights the Gitxsan, along with the Wet’suwet’en, initiated a law suit now known as the Delgamuukw decision, which reaffirmed their legitimate rights.
Today Enbridge, with the likes of Paul Stanway, are once again encroaching on and manipulating the Gitxsan people. The divisive tactics are no different than the tactics used during the Skeena River Rebellion over 135 years ago.
Many Gitxsan people enjoy the benefits of cheap goods from China and the prestigious feeling of wealth and position. Others desire to keep their land safe and intact, free and healthy for future generations. It is a conflict the BCTC with the associated governments, Stanway, the GTS and Enbridge are using to keep the Gitxsan divided and in turmoil.
Judge McEwen is expected to deliver his verdict on the hearing regarding the ability of the GTS to be re-legitimized within the next week or two. It is something the BC Government and the Federal Government desire to see as their funding organization for the GTS, the BCTC (BC Treaty Commission) has delivered approximately 20 million dollars to this organization. It has now been exposed as being an illegally operating entity for many years. This alone demonstrates how even the governments did not perform their due diligence and simply handed money willingly to an organization, which was actively dividing the Gitxsan Nation. Was this deliberate?
It would appear as though nothing has changed as it was the government of John Robson, another merchant man and media guru, who initiated and was directly responsible for much of the Gitxsan turmoil during the last half of the 1800's.
An argument could be made demonstrating Stanway is using his Sun Media influence to deceive all Canadians, much like Robson did 150 years ago. Read about the Vancouver Sun here
The society may be allowed to re-establish itself, but how this will retroactively apply to the activities and monies received while it was operating illegally will remain in question.
The media spin will also be interesting to watch as Stanway will be sure to have his finger on the pulse for Enbridge.
Paul Stanway next to a portrait of John Robson. Has John been reincarnated?
Money, and lots of it.