Gitxsan send out slew of eviction notices

Members of the Gitxsan are ordering all those involved in sport fisheries, the forest industry and CN Rail to leave their territory.

Members of the Gitxsan nation are ordering all those involved in sport fisheries, the forest industry and CN Rail to leave their territory by Aug. 4.

Simgiigyet Gitwangak and Gitsegugkla issued the eviction notices on July 10.

In a press release from the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs, it said this affects all fisheries on the Skeena River and its tributaries, all forest activities authorized by B.C. Timber Sales and Forest Land and Natural Resource Operations as well as the rail company.

It also states that businesses and government operations will not be allowed back on the 33,000 sq. km territory until both Crowns have obtained the required consent of the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs.

The Gitxsan chiefs believe the Crowns have carried on fraudulent consultation process in regards to B.C. Timber Sales and have not implemented any consultations before allowing sportfishing and transportation of goods by CN Rail.

“In line with our ayookw, (laws) the Supreme Court of Canada says repelling trespassers is a necessary element of our title,” said Sagum Higookw, Vernon Smith in the press release.

Aboriginal relations and reconciliation minister John Rustad was unavailable to talk to The Interior News about this issue but emailed a statement.

“We are focused on achieving agreements with First Nations, including the Gitxsan First Nation, that enable them to participate and benefit from LNG and other developments in their territory.

We will also continue to work to ensure industry understands its obligations and responsibilities to First Nations, which helps to provide better certainty and increase economic development,” Rustad said.

Stikine NDP MLA and aboriginal affairs and reconciliation critic Doug Donaldson doesn’t think that’s good enough.

“It has been a total failure of the BC Liberals’ approach to aboriginal title and this failure is creating more uncertainty,” he said. “The move and the ball is in the Liberal’s court and I don’t want to see them fumble it. What we see here is frustration and people have had enough.”

The eviction notice is causing some worry amongst anglers who already have fishing guides booked for next month.

“If all first Nations start evicting fishermen that will defiantly affect all of our guiding operations,” said Stan Doll with Skeena Wilderness Fishing Charters.

“It will also effect everyone in the tourism business. In other words everyone.”