Nov 30/98: Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs on Nisga'a deal

AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL MEMBERS OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

GITANYOW HEREDITARY CHIEFS
Box 148 Kitwanga, BC
VOJ 2A0

November 30, 1998

A historic time is upon us. There is much to celebrate with the coming of age of land claim negotiations in BC and the present ratification of the Nisga'a treaty. As a First Nation Community neighbouring the Nisga'a there is also much at stake for our people and their future within the fine print of the treaty.

Briefly, the Nisga'a treaty is supposed to bring certainty to the people of British Columbia. From the Gitanyow perspective, their treaty falls gravely short of this goal. The Nisga'a and British Columbia and Canada included important food gathering sites which fall well within Gitanyow territory as fee simple lands to the Nisga'a. In addition, the Nisga'a Wildlife Management Area as described in the treaty gives administrative authority over 80% of Gitanyow homelands to the Nisga'a central government with respect to wildlife.

These concerns were expressed to all parties as soon as the draft chapters were made available to the local Treaty Negotiation Advisory Committees. In essence both governments had been forewarned about the conflict since the Nisga'a Agreement in Principle was announced in February 1996. Two years later, with the support of the Supreme Court of Canada's Delgamuukw decision, the Gitanyow Nation still stand united that they do not want their children's future stolen for the sake of political expediency.

We encourage each and every MLA to make their support of the Nisga'a treaty conditional on guarantees that the Gitanyow requests for fair, just and timely resolutions to the important land and aboriginal rights issue are addressed now by British Columbia and Canada.

Signed:
Wilps Gwass Hlaam, Wilps Malii, Wilps Gam Laxyelixw, Wilps Wataxhayetsxw, Wilps Wii Litsxw, Wilps Haizimsque, Wilps Gwii Nuu, Wilps Luu Hon


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