Gitxsan Treaty Society elects board of directors

The Gitxsan Treaty Society is now in compliance with Section 85 of the B.C. Society Act after an extraordinary general meeting June 28.

The Gitxsan Treaty Society is now in compliance with Section 85 of the B.C. Society Act after an extraordinary general meeting, June 28, where each of the four Gitxsan clans elected three representatives each to form a board of directors.

However several Gitxsan believe the meeting, ordered by Justice Mark McEwan May 31, was not conducted in the spirit of the order.

GTS negotiator, Beverley Clifton-Percival is confident all the rules were followed properly.

“We’re just following what the judge laid out,” Clifton-Percival said while explaining to a Gitxsan hereditary chief why they were not permitted to vote.

“This is all in his ruling.”

Justice McEwan set a limit of 21 days, until June 21, for any Gitxsan person who wanted to participate in the vote to either nominate themselves or another registered GTS member to become a board member.

However only 37 registered Gitxsan Treaty Society members, as of May 31, were allowed to vote, the list of 37 was established during a GTS meeting in 2012.

Roy Wilson let his concerns about the 2012 membership list be known.

“This is only the second time that list has been brought up,” Wilson said.

“We need to be very careful what we do here today.”

GTS members were notified mid-May of the need to nominate before the June 21 deadline, but the inability to become a GTS member has left some dubious of the process.

In his May 31 decision, Justice McEwan cited directions he issued in March 2012.

“Refusal to participate in an open process might well give rise to questions of standing on the part of those who choose to continue to complain from outside,” Justice McEwan wrote.

McEwan also made clear why he thought it was important to issue this specific remedy.

“I think it inappropriate that the court be invited to select a particular group … to represent a whole people,” McEwan wrote.

“On the other hand, I consider it important that the GTS continue, provided the membership is open to all who wish to participate.

“Continuance of the GTS is also the best means to protect the interests of the Treaty Commission and the [provincial and federal] government respondents.”

Members of the Gitxsan Unity Movement feel McEwan was caught between a rock and a hard place and vow they will continue to pursue an appeal of the sec. 85 decision.

There are now 12 new board members with three from the Wolf, Fireweed, Eagle and Frog clans.

Cliff Sampare, John Olson and Ed Green are the Wolf representatives; Robert Campbell, Brenda Stewart and Lawrence Shanoss for Fireweed; Vernon Smith, Anita Davis and Alvin Hyzims for Eagle; and Marjorie Quock, Lucile Stoney and Larry Skulsh Sr. for Frog.

Clan members voted for only their potential representatives, which ignored calls from some to allow all voters the ability to vote for all potential board members.