NEWS RELEASE · 13th May 2012
Gitxsan Unity Movement
GITXSAN CRISES REACHES NATIONAL AND PROVINCIAL CHIEFS
The Gitxsan Unity Movement has found new hope in the arrival of Assembly of First Nation's National Chief, Shawn Atleo and Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs leader Stewart Phillips. The two have been called in to mediate a process called for by the Gitanmaax Band. The process is called the National Safety Protocol. With the arrival of these high profile Chiefs and their assistants, the Gitxsan Unity Chiefs and the Chiefs from the Gitxsan Treaty Society will be sitting down at the same table for the first time since the Unity Movement's blockade of the Chiefs building went up on December 5, 2011.
Fear and worry has escalated within the Gitxsan Nation that the Unity Hereditary Chiefs Delgumuukw, Dawamukkw and Guuhadakw will be arrested over the blockade. An injunction was put in place by the Gitxsan Treaty Society, on December 7, 2011, to remove the blockade. Since then this injunction and the enforcement of it has been in and out of court. Pressure on the RCMP to enforce the injunction by the Judge presiding over the injunction hearings, Judge McKewan, has reached the trigger point.
As an act to resolve this issue the National Safety Protocol was invoked by Gitanmaax Chief Marjorie McRae. This was done to avoid any possible chance of mayhem breaking out over the arrest of the Gitxsan Chiefs and/or people protecting their property. The National Safety Protocol is an agreement, signed in 1994, between the RCMP and the Assembly of First Nations. When a situation arises, which could develop into a crisis, a local First Nations Government can ask for this protocol to be implemented. Both the RCMP and the Assembly of First Nations have an obligation to work together to resolve the issue to prevent any potential conflict.
"The feeling within the Gitxsan Nation is, why is our own Government putting its own people in jail? These Chiefs and protesters have done nothing wrong; they are standing up for the truth. They are protecting the interests of our children and the generations to follow." said Gitxsan Unity Movement member John Olson.
The Fist Nations from across Canada are closely watching the outcome of these proceedings. For many First Nations and Indigenous people all over the world use the historic Delgumuukw Land Claims case to conduct business on their territories and waters. If the traditional law of the First Nations people is over ruled by the non first nationís courts on their own territories then the Delgumuukw Court case victory, which is the pride of the Gitxsan Nation, will be thrown out the back door. This victory provided the case law for Indigenous people and their rights to control their own land!
The Gitxsan Unity Movement began as Gitxsan Against Enbridge in early December 2011. The goal of the movement is to bring harmony between the Gitxsan Government and the values, law and will of the Gitxsan. We strive for accountability, transparency and to return the authority and jurisdiction to its rightful place, the Gitxsan Simgiigyet and the Gitxsan nation.
The Gitxsan Unity Chiefs shut down the Gitxsan Treaty Office on December 5, 2011 because they were acting contrary to Gitxsan law and values through their unilateral agreement with Enbridge.
The future of the Ayookw (Gitxsan law) rests on the shoulders of the High Chiefs of the Gitxsan Nation in this National Safety Protocol meeting with Chiefs Atleo and Phillips.
For the latest news and updates, all Gitxsan people are encouraged to go to the Unity Fire outside of the Chiefs Office in downtown Hazelton.
Comment by Janice Robinson on 18th May 2012
Did Sean Atleo's appearance in Gitxsan Territory do any good? We haven't heard....
Ed Note: Yes - The Mothers Day Accord, which had the Judge at wits end. The RCMP lawyer had this in his pocket to inform the judge they would not enforce his demands as the AFN/RCMP agreement took precedence. This had the judge claim, 'Well then I will get my Sheriffs to enforce my orders.'
Shawn Atleo's presence was a good thing for those attempting to salvage what they can for the Gitxsan people.
Sean Atleo is no chief of this Tsimshian.
Comment by Janice Robinson on 13th May 2012
Atleo was elected by a national group of Indian treaty makers (Assembly of First Nations). I do not know the name of the "chiefs" who supposedly represent the Tsimshian Nation in that process. They seem to have no shame in their ballsy self-appointments. The nation has NEVER been asked for direction, feedback or validation of any vote at the Assembly of First Nations. Sean likes to be seen sitting next to Prime Minister Harper at Indian political functions.
Which raises the question of this sudden visit
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 13th May 2012
Although many would like a resolution in the favour of the hereditary chiefs, the calling of elected chiefs, those elected to the high posts by even more elected chiefs make me believe these guy's allegiances is not towards the hereditary side.
I suspect that by the end of their visit a similar situation to the Bill Bennett, Jack Monroe meeting of the 1980's where Monroe declared on Bennettís steps, "the issues were settled, everyone should go back to work."
Jack Monroe is still to this day seen as a traitor to all working people of BC. He was head of a Union, yes, but not representing any of the public service workers who were taking the job action, and he didn't consult with them either, he just arbitrarily made a decision and announced it, tricking everyone.
Atleo or Phillips could do the same thing.
Sean Atleo is with GTS
Comment by Skeena River Watchmen on 13th May 2012
National Chief Sean Atleo.
Wants mineral & natural resource extraction. Calling it the new fur trade.
He wants to remove the Indian Act with in 5 years of his mandate.
Can't wait to he is voted out.
Now we know Why
Comment by barryeng on 13th May 2012
"If the traditional law of the First Nations people is over ruled by the non first nationís courts on their own territories then the Delgumuukw Court case victory, which is the pride of the Gitxsan Nation, will be thrown out the back door."
Aha! Now we know why the courts. and subsequently the Government, are so adamant that the GTS must be protected at all costs, despite their proven illegalities. There's too much at stake for the Hereditary chiefs to be able to control their own destiny.