Gitxsan serve eviction notice on Skeena anglers, foresters and CN Rail

Gitxsan chiefs issued eviction notices on Thursday to all sports fisheries, forest industry and CN Rail to leave Gitxsan territories.

Gitxsan chiefs say they issued eviction notices on Thursday to all sports fisheries, forest industry and CN Rail to leave Gitxsan territories by Aug. 4.

“This notice is pursuant to ayokim Gitxsan supported by the decision by the Supreme Court of Canada that the Crown must obtain consent and preserve the interests of the Gitxsan before carrying on any activities on Gitxsan lax yip, 33,000 sq km of territory in northwestern British Columbia,” the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs stated in a press release.

The Gitxsan said this eviction notice affects all sports fisheries on the Skeena River and tributaries, all forest activities authorized by BC Timber Sales and FLNRO, and CN Rail. All are expected to vacate and cease activities on August 4, 2014 until both the Province of B.C. and the federal government have obtained the consent of the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs.

“The Crowns have carried on what the Gitxsan Chiefs believe to be a fraudulent consultation process by FLNRO BC Timber Sales and have not implemented any consultations before permitting sports fisheries and transportation of goods by CN Rail. This is a huge trespass on Gitxsan lands by the Crown and makes futile any efforts by the BC LNG Team to develop any meaningful relationship or reconciliation with the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs,” the chiefs said.

Sagum Higookw, Vernon Smith states: “In line with our ayookw, the Supreme Court of Canada says repelling trespassers is a necessary element of our title.”

DFO and FLNRO did not immediately comment on the eviction notice.

However, Al Martin, of the B.C. Wildlife Federation, told the Globe and Mail that the Tsilhqot’in case is a game changer and the Gitxsan declaration is unsettling, but he advises fishermen and hunters not to panic.

“Well, the landscape has just changed from being Crown land and private land, to Crown land, aboriginal title and private title so I think that hunting and fishing will change across the province. I guess the question is: How will it change?” he said.

“Hopefully this [Supreme Court ruling] will give us an opportunity to ensure the changes are positive in terms of the sustainability of wildlife and still provide opportunities for First Nations and non-First Nations alike to participate in hunting and fishing.”