As of Monday morning Gitxsan members continue to camp out in front of the Gitxsan Treaty Society office building, using a makeshift campfire for heat and being fed by well-wishers who pass by.
The GTS filed an injunction with the B.C. Supreme Court on Dec. 7, which forbids some hereditary chiefs from trespassing on the GTS building property at 1650 Omineca Street, or interfering with access to the building.
Over the course of last weekend hundreds of people came out to share in the circle and show support for the protesters.
Protesters were reacting to an equity sharing agreement which was signed between Enbridge Northern Gateway for their pipeline and Gitxsan hereditary chiefs, represented by Elmer Derrick.
In response to the signing a website has been formed called Gitxsan Against Enbridge (gitxsanagainstenbridge.com) and is updated on a regular basis, and some chiefs are signing declarations on the site.
Chief Guuhadawk (Norman Stephens) was one of the people served with the court injunction by the GTS along with Dawamuukw (Larry Patsey). They issued a press release in response to the injunction stating that the GTS was shut down.
“Those individuals giving instruction to seek the order against the Gitxsan people do not have authority to do so,” said Patsey in the release.
The statement also said the Board of Directors and senior staff were “fired by the united Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs on Dec. 6 on loss of confidence and breach of the Gitxsan law and protocols.
Gordon Sebastian, executive director of the Gitxsan Chiefs’ Office, isn’t backing down. According to him, he’ll follow orders handed down by the Gitxsan Treaty Society board.
“They have structures in place for a reason and they need to have a meeting to do things properly and follow due process,” he said.
Sebastian also lashed out against vocal opposers such as Chief Councillor Marjorie McRae of Gitanmaax.
“Marjorie McCrae isn’t Gitxsan nor is she a hereditary chief,” said Sebastian.
Sebastian also feels let down by the presence of MLA Doug Donaldson and MP Nathan Cullen who came out to support the protesters.
“Nathan Cullen and Doug Donaldson made appearances supporting the blockaders, thumbing their nose at the court order,” he said.
By Monday, Norm Stephens and Larry Patsey were the only Gitxsan hereditary chiefs who had publicly stated opposition to the protocol agreement signed two weeks ago.
As for the hereditary chief who first announced the pipeline agreement, Elmer Derrick, he said he is not sorry it was done, only that he was sorry about the threats his family and friends have received.
The deal provides the Gitxsan with an equity stake in the pipeline project, something that could be worth $7 million.
Derrick, the chief land claims negotiator for the Gitxsan Treaty Society, says the most recent deal was two years in the making, and consultation with hereditary chiefs did take place along the way.
In response to the public outcry, Derrick said it was the responsibility of hereditary chiefs to inform their houses about the project. He also said it was within his power to sign the deal.
With files from Lauren Benn, Terrace Standard