NEWS RELEASE · 20th March 2012
Gitxsan Unity Movement
Today the Gitxsan Unity Movement is addressing the numerous allegations, distortions and hypocritical statements, which are circulating and appear to be designed to deceive or delude supporters and efforts to rebuild unity and friendship within the Gitxsan Nation.
The Unity Movement began in early December after Elmer Derrick of the GTS (Gitxsan Treaty Society) held a surprise news conference with Janet Holder of Enbridge. They announced to the world that the Gitxsan people were supporting the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline. This announcement occurred during the services for the passing of a Hereditary Chief, Elder and Matriarch, on December 2, 2011.
The GTS has caused confusion by operating as: the Gitxsan Treaty Society, Gitxsan Treaty Office (GTO), the Gimlitwitx, and the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs.
Currently the most serious allegation is regarding a threat to burn the building housing the GTS offices. This is completely unfounded. The Gitxsan Unity Movement is protecting the building and the contents from any threat including vandalism. The continuous vigilant watch over the offices is now approaching 110 days and the watch has been maintained 24 hours a day. It is in the interests of the Gitxsan Nation as a whole to ensure the offices are kept secure and intact.
If the BC Supreme Court continues to maintain the illegality of the GTS, which Judge McEwen stated in Smithers Court on January 11, 2012, the documents in the offices would be helpful to proceed with further charges against those who have continued with these unlawful activities. The only persons who might benefit from a fire at the offices are those who wish to destroy the evidence of their wrong doing.
GTS representative, Bev Clifton Percival, issued a news release on March 9, 2012, which contained various false statements. The news release opened with the following;
“A BC Supreme Court judge has confirmed the Gitxsan Treaty Society (GTS) is a valid entity (and always was) and may attend to the necessary work of the GTS while he considers how to remedy a technical irregularity in the appointment of the society's directors. During the hearing, the judge also expressed his view in clear terms that the blockade of the Chiefs' office is illegal and told the protesters that they have no right to deny access to the office.”
Judge McEwen made no such statement and in fact reserved his decision. He told those attending he would attempt to reach a decision as quickly as possible, but offered no comments regarding his up coming ruling on the matter of the legality of the GTS or the blockade.
The GTS news release also quotes Alice Jeffrey as stating, "through it all we have repeatedly invited them [the Gitxsan Unity Movement Members] to engage in a respectful dialogue to no avail.”
There has never been such an invite issued by the GTS and in fact the GTS has obstructed the Gitxsan Unity Movement members from attending their gatherings such as the two Gimlitxwit in Gitsegukla during January, 2012, and the two in Gitwangak during February, 2012. It has been the Unity movement who have been consistently encouraging the GTS to attend gatherings to address the concerns of the Gitxsan Nation, which have been consistently rebuked.
The Gitxsan Unity movement is pleased the BC Provincial Government has taken a neutral position placing all negotiations with the GTS on hold as has the BC Ministry of Forests. It is with some concern then that the Unity Movement has been informed the GTS transferred $500,000 from the Gitxsan Forest Enterprise Inc bank account into their own GTS accounts without the consent or approval of the Hereditary Chiefs.
Many more mis-deeds have yet to be authenticated and the safety and security of the GTS office is critical to future investigations into the illegal and unethical operations of the GTS. These include the concerns as to the whereabouts of and the disbursements of:
- The $13 million from the short term forestry agreement
- The $6.7 million recorded in the 2009 fiscal year financial report
We can report Staff Sgt Pelley of the New Hazelton RCMP has given us credit for the peaceful and respectful manner all of the participants at the protest camp have conducted themselves. As of the date of this news release the sacred fire has been burning uninterrupted for 108 days.
We are committed to peace, accountability, and transparency and are concerned by reports that Elmer Derrick is receiving death threats. This is a very serious allegation and anyone hearing of such should report to the RCMP immediately. The Gitxsan Unity Movement is a peaceful gathering attempting to unite all the Gitxsan people regardless of their personal position on these sensitive issues.
Threats and malicious statements to, or regarding, the Hereditary Chiefs are completely unacceptable, whether they are supportive of the GTS, the Gitxsan Unity Movement or the Spookw lawsuit against the GTS. Today the Gitxsan Unity Movement has received the signatures of just under 90 Chiefs (52 Head Chiefs) in support of the actions we are taking on behalf of our people.
Our numbers are growing and our leadership is now calling for Gitxsan Guardians to step up and volunteer to protect the Gitxsan people and their interests, the land water and air, for the future generations. The Gitxsan Unity Movement is 100% volunteer driven. We are committed to a future Gitxsan Government based in our culture and values which include accountability and transparency.
We thank all of the people for their continued support and encouragement.
Comment by Samantha on 22nd March 2012
You know as well as I do that an opposition party has NO power to do anything against a majority government, except for try to make the public aware of what the government is trying to slip by.
You also know as well as I do, because you are so quick to point a finger at 'socialists' IN power the NDP government would do more for First Nations people than anyone YOU would vote for. I mean you still call them indians.
You have no respect for the First Nations people, their culture or their territoriesm which is reflected consistently in your comments, nor does your elected governments.
So yes, when the BC NDP get into power, and they will... because the liberals have messed things up SO muc for SO long, more will be done for equality. That's the bottom line.
As for not voting, if you don't vote... don't complain. The reality is, all the apathy and 'protest' non votes got us into this situation in the first place and it is EXACTLY what the sitting governments of the day want.
Comment by James Ippel on 21st March 2012
I was particularly taken by the second paragraph in your article, and it struck me as how realistic it is. The Indian vote decides the outcome of an election in Skeena, of Skeena-Bulkley Valley.
There was an article in the Terrace Standard a month or six weeks ago, and I was taken by the comment of Mr. Mould from Kitwanga. He flat out stated that a vote for the NDP was a wasted voted, because they do "Nothing" for us, yet on election day and when the votes are counted we see that the majority of Natives in our riding vote for the NDP. Why is this? I am under the impression that the Mould family is a respected group withing the Native Community, and that they might have some influence.
We will wait for the next election, and see what the outcome is.
I will not cast a vote.
Comment by Janice Robinson on 21st March 2012
I will not vote in upcoming provincial or federal elections. This will be my way of showing my disappointment and anger with ALL parties in this ongoing effort by mainstream society to wantonly rape, steal and exploit this beautiful country and peoples.
Here in the Northwest, political parties live and die according to the Indian vote. Ever since the settlers and their governments first started squatting, what difference has it made what political party was in control? Really? Talk is cheap. Tsimshian people have always fended for ourselves also.
Whether the party in power was/is Consevative, Liberal, NDP or Social Credit...the pillage, deceit and betrayals has marched on (to this day). Treaties are their primary weapons of choice. After every election, they pass the batons and the sins continue unabated.
I self-identify with no political party. Give me some valid reasons why this Tsimshian should expend any effort to get to a polling booth again.
Comment by J.Brian Waddington on 21st March 2012
I have been following this struggle since it first became public. I thank the G.U.M. for making their position clear.
Until the other group makes their own statement I have no way of judging the truth or validity of the G.U.M.
But I have found that those who are willing to state their position openly and with no side talk often speak the truth.
Comment by ernie wilson on 20th March 2012
as a Gitxsan man speaking on behalf myself, my personal family: brother, sisters & their children with their permission i have to say no one in my family wants anything to do with the top 3 GTS or the GTS in general due to the facts that have come to light over time.
the GTS may have started out with some of its early members truly having the best intentions but government money & gov advisors have turned whatever they imagined into a machine of greed & corruption that outraged the Gitxsan people like i never seen in my lifetime.
the outrage was so built up & past a boiling point for so long that my Gitxsan people who are usually very mild mannered, overall happy people even in poverty rose up against the outrages committed by the GTS for so long over the years with our elderly hereditary chiefs being dis-respected & shoved aside by the GTS openly at public meetings, even had some hauled away by the RCMP in irons for daring to oppose them at a meeting... this is not "Traditional" 1 bit! yet the GTS use "traditions" whenever it suits their aims or needs at the moment to silence opposition.
the GTS is no different than how the US uses coverts forces to overthrow 3rd world governments then sets up a puppet tinpot dictatorship in a banana republic to serve them, the canadian gov in my opinion is trying to emulate the US financially backing the GTS into power to serve their needs regardless of the will of the Gitxsan people.
Hereditary Chief of Gitwangak Band
Comment by cliffordd c.w. morgan on 20th March 2012
I fully give my full support for the Gitxsan Unity Movement, as I definitely want GTS to just disappear, as they commited criminal actions, and only a few are benefiting from the $million loans, from B.C. Treaty Commission, monies meant for the four bands, Gitwangak, Gitanmaax, Glenvowell, and Kispiox bands. I am a witness also, for the Gitxsan Unity Litigation team.