Gitanyow hereditary chiefs (Nation/Huwilp) and the governments of British Columbia and Canada have signed an accord intended to provide a path forward in the B.C. Treaty process toward full self-government.
The Gitanyow Governance Accord commits Gitanyow, the Province and Canada to a series of steps needed to transition away from the federal Indian Act by revitalizing and achieving legal recognition of Gitanyow hereditary governance system of the Huwilp/Houses within five years.
Key milestones include: revitalizing the Gitanyow Constitution, governance structures and developing a citizenship code; negotiating an inherent governance agreement that sets out steps to Gitanyow self-government; and ratifying and implementing the Gitanyow Inherent Governance Agreement.
“This is a historic step in recognition of who we are as hereditary governed people,” said Simogyet Malii (Glen Williams), president of the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs Office.
“My grandfather told me as a young boy that our laws have been suppressed, but one day they will grow from a small spark and spread light over the land once again.”
Stikine MLA Nathan Cullen said everyone stands to gain from implementing First Nations rights and title through “hard work, commitment and focused negotiation efforts, rather than relying on the courts.”
“With the Gitanyow Governance Accord, we are working in partnership to support a self-governing Gitanyow Nation – a strong and proud Nation no longer subject to the Indian Act, and led by a recognized hereditary governance system with strong support and unity from within the Nation.”
The Gitanyow traditional territory covers 1.7 million hectares of northwest B.C. west of the Hazeltons from south of the village of Gitanyow to north of Meziadin Junction.
The Nation is represented by eight hereditary chiefs who each lead a Wilp (house group) and come together as the Huwilp on matters of common interest.
The parties have agreed to establish a governance working group within 45 days of the signing of the accord, with Gitanyow, the Province and Canada each appointing at least one representative.