A permanent base camp is being set up on Suskwa Forest Service Road.
Luutkudziiwus, Xsim Wits’iin and Noola, Gitxsan hereditary chiefs, on behalf of their house members are closing their territory to all natural gas pipeline development.
Luutkudziiwus spokesperson Richard Wright said the camp is being built to manage their territory.
“We are going to be controlling access and all industrial development in the future,” he said.
“We are going to be implementing a land management plan, territory management plan, and we will be looking at generating a sustainable economic activity down the road, but the first stage is establishing jurisdiction and ownership of it.”
Wright added they are taking matters into their own hands because he doesn’t feel the Gitxsan Treaty Society or the Gitxsan Development Corporation properly represents the house he belongs to.
“They are receiving participation funding and capacity development funds on behalf of all of the affected Gitxsan houses, and lands and resources,” he said.
“We had told the provincial government and LNG that the GDC does not have the authority to negotiate on our behalf. They don’t have aboriginal rights, they don’t have land or resource nor a mandate to represent us. LNG said they were going to continue to negotiate through the GDC. This sparked us to do something.”
Wright and his house are worried if a natural gas pipeline goes through that environmental catastrophes will happen, the roads will get wider, more hunters will come in, the Suskwa River may get contaminated, and medicinal plants would be impacted.
The proposed Prince Rupert Natural Gas Transmission Line would cross near where the base camp is being built.
Hereditary Cheif Luutkudziiwus said in a press release that the Madii Lii territory is not for sale or use by the province of B.C., TransCanada or a developer that has no understanding of his culture or heritage.
“We want to create economic opportunities, we want to be open for business but let’s do it in a sustainable manner,” Wright added.
The GDC was unavailable for comment.