Gitxsan Chiefs sign deal with Enbridge

The hereditary chiefs of the Gitxsan have signed an agreement with Enbridge for a share of the pipeline's profits.

The hereditary chiefs of the Gitxsan First Nation signed deal on Firday with that the energy company, Enbridge, that has been offered to 40 first nations in BC and Alberta who find themselves along or near the route for the proposed the Northern Gateway oil pipeline. This decision is news to some members of that First Nation though.

It should be noted that the Gitxsan’s territory is north of the actual route the proposed pipeline will take, but it does cross a number of tributaries that do flow through their traditional territory.

The announcement comes the day after a large group of BC First Nations signed a declaration in Vancouver stating their opposition to the pipeline and oil tanker traffic off of BC’s coast. Shortly after the declaration was signed, the company sent out a statement saying that ”aboriginal opposition to the project is by no means unanimous.” Now, it appears, they have proved it.

One day later, one of Gitxsan’s hereditary chiefs, Elmer Derrick – along with Enbridge executive — talking to local and national press about the deal that the hereditary chiefs accepted on behalf of their communities. Derrick maintains that the the previous day’s announcement had no bearing on their decision to publicly announce the deal.

“Over time we have established a relationship of trust with Enbridge, we have closely examined and assessed this project, and we believe it can be built and operated safely . . . For too long we’ve watched our own resources leave our territory without having a say in where it goes, or a share in the profits. That must change. ” said Derrick.

While all the details of the agreement have not been revealed, Enbridge has been offering First Nations a 10 per cent stake in the project. Assuming that all goes as the energy company plans and all 40 of the GiFirst Nation eventually sign on, then the Gitxsan would be entitled to less than half-a-percent of the pipeline’s profits. That might not sound like much, but they say that they are estimating that at least $7-million dollars worth of profits to be paid to the First Nation over several years.

That money will be put into a trust that is overseen by the hereditary chiefs and used for future investment. What exactly they want to spend that money on is a mystery for the moment, even to chief Derrick it would seem.

Derrick says that the Gitxsan needs to do something to improve its economic future in order to improve the lives of its people and to end the sense of hopelessness among its young people that causes them to move away, or worse, to commit suicide.

“ They cannot eat Gitxsan title and rights. That’s the problem. We need to find a way to change title and rights into economic opportunities that make sense for our communities and the people who live in them,” says Derrick.

The decision to accept the deal was not a community-wide one. The call was made by the hereditary chiefs who are not elected by their communities, and the ones that are elected, the band councils, were left out of the decision. There was no official public consultation done to gauge the opinions of Gitxsan members either.

Derrick says that he knows that a majority of the group’s members are in favour of the decision the chiefs made. When asked how he arrived at that conclusion he said:

“Just from talking to people.”

According to local MP and opponent of the gateway pipeline, Nathan Cullen, those from the Gitxsan Nation who aren’t happy with this decision have been talking to him. Some of whom, he says, had no idea that the chiefs were making this decision.

“I’ve been getting calls virtually all morning and emails from some very concerned members of the Gitxsan who are confused and upset about what’s happening,” says Cullen.

“It makes no sense. I’ve been in the Gitxsan territory a lot and met with many, many people at forums and individually about Enbridge, and the opposition to it has been as overwhelming there as it has been in any other community.”

Whether or not the decision has the support of the majority of Gitxsan members may not really matter, since the chiefs say they are exercising their rights and title as First Nations chiefs; power that has been recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada.

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

Intertidal Music Festival wrap up

Video and photos from the full-day festival held at the North Pacific Cannery in Port Edward, B.C.

North West softball team wins gold at BC Summer Games

Two Prince Rupert players were on the Zone 7 boys U-16 team that went 5-0 in the tournament

Longtime vice-principal Kevin Leach resigns from Charles Hays Secondary

Aja Lihou takes on new role as vice-principal at the high school in Prince Rupert

Big wrestling from a small town

Aaron Roubicek wants to put Prince Rupert on the map at the BC Summer Games

WEB POLL: Are you guilty of foodwaste at home?

B.C. food retailers are trying to change people’s behaviour to reduce food waste

BC Games: Day 3 wrap and closing ceremonies

The torch in the Cowichan Valley has been extinguished as Fort St. John gets ready to host the 2020 BC Winter Games

Newspaper carriers wanted!

Contact The Northern View today to find out how you can become a part of our team

Police confirm girl, 8 others injured in Toronto shooting; shooter dead

Paramedics said many of the victims in Danforth, including a child, were rushed to trauma centres

Why do they do it? Coaches guide kids to wins, personal bests at the BC Games

Behind the 2,300 B.C. athletes are the 450 coaches who dedicate time to help train, compete

Government sets full-time salary range for Justin Trudeau’s nanny

At its top range, the order works out to a rate of $21.79 per hour, assuming a 40-hour work week

Lower Mainland teams battle for baseball gold at BC Games

Vancouver Coastal squeaked out a 3-2 win against Fraser Valley

The Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw people signed an agreement-in-principle with the B.C. government

The signing ceremony, at the Eliza Archie Memorial School, was 25 years in the making

ZONE 8: Williams Lake’s Gabby Knox is a 2nd-generation BC Games competitor

Both parents competed in softball, but Knox is making waves in the pool

Canada to resettle dozens of White Helmets and their families from Syria

There are fears the volunteers would become a target for government troops

Most Read