Paul Stanway, spokesperson for Enbridge Inc. claims the company still has a deal with the Gitxsan regarding their proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline project.
“We feel we certainly have an agreement,” Stanway said in an interview with the Terrace Standard.
However, neither the Gitxsan Treaty Society, nor the Gitxsan Unity Movement agree with Stanway’s assertions.
“The deal was never with the Gitxsan Treaty Society,” GTS official Chief Beverly Clifton Percival (Gwaans) said.
“If Enbridge feels they have a deal with the Gitxsan Treaty Society, they do not represent the Gitxsan Unity Movement nor our Chiefs, whom represent two-thirds of the territories and close to 90 per cent of the Gitxsan people,” spokesperson for GUM, John Olson said.
Who rightly represents the Gitxsan people is a long-standing debate among the Gitxsan and underlies the validity of the deal referred to by Stanway.
Last December, Gitxsan Hereditary Chief, Elmer Derrick, signed an agreement with Enbridge, on behalf of the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs.
The agreement between Derrick and Enbridge secured an equity position for the Gitxsan in the Northern Gateway pipeline project.
The agreement was worth an estimated $7 million for the Gitxsan.
Contrary to assertions by Derrick that he was the chief negotiator for the Gitxsan, news of the agreement sparked anger among the Gitxsan people and the Gitxsan Unity Movement established a blockade at the offices of the GTS in Hazelton.
On January 17, 2012, 78 per cent of Chiefs with the GTS, the society claiming to be the recognized negotiators for the Gitxsan, voted to formally withdraw from the agreement signed by Derrick.
With both the GTS and GUM opposing the Northern Gateway pipeline project, the question remains as to who among the Gitxsan community Stanway and Enbridge claim to have an agreement with.
The Interior News has asked Stanway to clarify which individuals or organization within the Gitxsan community Enbridge believes it has an agreement with.
Stanway has yet to respond.