Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs

November 25, 2015 13:17 ET

Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs File in Court for the Minister of Forests to Comply With the Law

KITWANGA, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Nov. 25, 2015) - On Monday the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs, on behalf of all Gitanyow, filed an application for a court order to require Minister Steve Thomson to comply with his obligations under provincial legislation to manage wildlife in the Nass area of British Columbia in Gamlaxyeltxw v. Minister of FLNRO.

Under the Nisga'a Final Agreement Act, which ratified the Nisga'a treaty, every year the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations must set the total allowable moose harvest for that year for the Nass area. The Minister does so after receiving recommendations from a joint BC-Nisga'a committee established by the Nisga'a Final Agreement of 2000.

"Our information is that the Minister has not set the total allowable moose harvest for several years," said Glen Williams, Chief Negotiator for the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs. "He's abdicated his legal responsibility and let the Nisga'a make this decision for him. All we want the court to do is to order the Minister to follow the Province's own laws, plain and simple."

Williams said that the hunting decisions presently being made by the Nisga'a impact not just Nisga'a but Gitanyow and all non-aboriginal citizens of BC. "Basically, this is a major failure of the Province to properly implement a modern day treaty. All British Columbians should be seriously concerned."

Mr. Williams explained that for the Gitanyow the problem is exacerbated because the Minister's failure to comply with the law allows the Nisga'a to make decisions in Gitanyow territory. Mr. Williams said "for hundreds of generations prior to contact, it was Gitanyow land and still is, but the Nisga'a Final Agreement allowed the Nisga'a to hunt over 84 percent of Gitanyow territory. The Gitanyow have protested this since these terms were put in the Nisga'a agreement.

"That was bad enough," he added, "but the Minister's failure to follow the law and the terms of the Nisga'a Final Agreement gives the Nisga'a more power over Gitanyow resources contrary to their treaty and provincial legislation."

Quick Facts:

  • The Gitanyow Lax'yip, or territory, covers approximately 16,800 square kms in northwest BC.
  • There are approximately 2114 Gitanyow members.
  • The Gitanyow govern themselves by Wilp, or Houses, as they have done for thousands of years. All Gitanyow belong to a Wilp.
  • The Gitanyow are actively pursuing their aboriginal title action against BC and Canada.

Contact Information

  • Glen Williams