The British Columbia Supreme Court threw out claims against the Gitxsan Treaty Society last week.
The plaintiffs, a group of Gitxsan people, were seeking to end the GTS because they said it has not acted in the best interest of the Gitxsan people.
The group called Spookw includes Geri McDougall on behalf of herself and other Gitxsan chiefs and members, Baskyalaxha also known as William Blackwater Sr., Suu Dii also known as Yvonne Lattie, Luutkudziiwuus also known as Charlie Wright, Xsimwits Inn also known as Lester Moore, Moolxhan also known as Noola and as Norman Moore, Gitanmaax Indian Band, Glen Vowell Indian Band, Gitwangak Indian Band, Kispiox Indian Band and Gitksan Local Services Society.
They told the courts the society has restricted consultation and opportunities for involvement, and has failed to provide them with information respecting the treaty negotiations it is involved in or to justify the treaty funding it has received.
However, the judge presiding over the case said there was no evidence the society had not lost support of the community as a whole.
“The chiefs are relieved that it has come to a conclusion and we are looking forward to moving forward in a positive way,” said GTS negotiator Gwaans, Bev Clifton Percival.
“The chiefs are open to discussion and working together. I don’t think it paints a bad picture of the Gitxsan society, I think it shows there were concerns raised and those concerns have been addressed, they raised them in court and the courts addressed them.
“I hope the future can be positive and we can move forward in the collective interest of the nation,” said Clifton Percival
However, the plaintiffs plans to appeal.
“[The judge] said that we do not have standing but if we do not have standing how does GTS have standing to represent 10,000 Gitxsan plus all of the territories?
Basically, if they continue to represent us, regardless of whether we are members, they are taking away our responsibilities because as hereditary chiefs and house members we are responsible for our territories,” said Simogyet Gwininitxw Yvonne Lattie.
“I’m hoping that GTS will release us and quit representing the Gitxsan that don’t want anything to do with them,” she said.
The group will be waiting on the recommendations of their lawyers and Lattie said their next move will be based on facts and what the people want.