Gitxsan: reportback from a summer of unity – John Olson

BC Sliammon Coast


Gitxsan Unity Movement. Aug 28:


It has been a busy summer within the Gitxsan Nation. Our people have been harvesting the salmon and berries of all sorts. The aroma of smoke houses wafting throughout the air within our communities. Jams are being preserved for the long winter months. We here at the Gitxsan Unity Movement are no different from most Gitxsan, almost all work stops and focus is on harvesting what the great nature provided. I personally feel blessed with the abundance of salmon that returned this year, also the berries are ripening and there is also an abundance of these. The creator has been good to us.



Our lifestyle is much different than that of mainstream society, governments, corporation and government agencies do not slow business down in order to ensure that they have ample supplies of food for the winter. They carry on, business as usual. How this relates to our lifestyle is plain and simple. All of the above will stop at nothing to destroy our lifestyle, take away our sovereign rights as the First people of this territory and rob the land of it’s resources. Thus ensuring our future generations a dismal life at best.



The Federal Government, Provincial Government and the Gitxsan Treaty Society have consistently ignored the cries of the Gitxsan People. We do not want Treaty, We want to conserve the land for the future generations, we do not like our Nation torn apart and divided, why is it you cannot leave us alone to resolve our differences internally?

First Nations throughout British Columbia, who are involved in the B.C. Treaty process with the Treaty Commission, are being ignored and divided with such a process. The Governments, via the treaty process, are using our own people to do so. They have somehow gained the trust and faith of certain leaders from the Nations to negotiate on the people’s behalf. Lacking in accountability and transparency, this treaty process is flawed from the start.

We, the Gitxsan Nation are no different. The Gitxsan Treaty Society(GTS) has taken it upon themselves to negotiate on our behalf. Setting up backroom deals, such as the Enbridge northern Gateway partnership, without the knowledge of the people. They continue to develope entitities such as the Gitxsan Development Corporation and Gitxsan Energy, all of this under an illegal board of directors. This board is not a legal board until Justice McEwan of the BC Supreme Court deems them legal. At a GTS Chief’s meeting on July 17, 18 and 19th numerous Chiefs had pulled their house groups and territories away from the treaty society and the treaty process. In turn, the GTS undermined those Chiefs with lesser Chiefs of the same house group. Creating further dissention within our Nation

It is not coincidence that the house groups that are in dispute and have inner turmoil have wing Chiefs supportive of the GTS. That the house groups who are divided over the treaty process have proposed development on or about their territories. The government have taken only the GTS word as the true wishes of the Nation. The words of the High Chiefs of the Gitxsan Nation has been ignored , plain and simple.

Here within the Gitxsan Unity Movement, we have witnessed the disarray that the treaty negotiations have caused. We see it as threatening our way of life and our children’s future. We question if those yet to be born will experience the life of hunting, fishing and gathering as has been since time immemorial.



It is no secret that the Governments and their agents are after our territories’ resources. They have proven they will stop at nothing to destroy our way of life and rights as indigenous peoples. People in the Athebasken watershed, where the Alberta tarsands are located, are dying at a rapid rate of cancer. When our pleas have fallen on deaf ears what choices do we have? It is clear that we will be continued to be ignored and that the Gitxsan Conflict will continue so long as some of the parties is not willing to sit down at the table and resolve it from within.

The choice is obvious, we must continue to inform our people of the issues  that are threatening to us as a people. We must unite like never before and demand that our leadership listens to the concerns of the people. Is it not good governance to govern to the wishes of the majority of its’ people? We must now reach out to our neighboring nations that are facing similar problems and unite to let the governments know that we are not happy with the treaty process and their involvement in separating our families, our communities and Nations!



John Olson

Gitxsan Unity Movement

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