Read more about this story in The Interior News Oct. 26.
Two leaked documents, one outlining an agreement between the Province of British Columbia and the Gitxsan Nation regarding a natural gas pipeline project are generating controversy among the Gitxsan.
A document called Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project Natural Gas Pipeline Benefits Agreement says the Province will provide an initial payment of $1.16 million to the Gitskan Development Corporation, project payments of $5.8 million as the work begins and is completed, and $10 million in ongoing payments per year to the Gitxsan Nation and other ‘eligible First Nations.’
A second document called Trustee Resolution of The Amdimxxw Trust shows a trust fund of that name being settled on June 27, 2016 and signed by eight trustees on Sept. 6, 2016. It shows two sets of funds being distributed to some Gitxsan leaders totalling more than $5.3 million.
The documents were posted online after they were found in a sealed envelope outside the home of a Hazelton resident on Friday, Oct. 14.
One of the people who signed the trust agreement, Gordon Sebastian, said he has given his consent for a natural gas pipeline to come through his territory, but there is more information than is seen in the leaked documents.
“The numbers are true,” he said. “There is a whole arrangement there and a whole big thing that didn’t get on Facebook, that we still treasure as confidential.”
Sebastian is one of two people claiming the title of Hereditary Chief of the house of Luutkudziiwus. He said he is part of a team that has been negotiating with the province and with industry for four years.
The Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation (MARR) said the benefits agreement document is a draft document.
“The B.C. Government does not have a natural gas agreement in effect with the Gitxsan for the project,” said Lisa Leslie, MARR spokesperson.
About 100 people attended a meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 18 in Hazelton to ask some of the people who signed those documents to explain.
“We are going to have to stop them,” said Pansy Wright Simms, outside the meeting.She is a matriarch of the Luutkudziiwus house.
“We are going to do it in our feast hall. This is our law. We heard a lot about what was done on Haida Gwaii in the boardroom here today. I am not going to leave future generations with a mess. It is my job as a matriarch of our house, as a woman, as a mother, to prevent that from happening.”