Court order obtained against Gitxsan protesters
THERE ARE reports this morning that a BC Supreme Court order has been obtained to stop trespassing at and blocking access to the Gitxsan Treaty Society office in Hazelton.
Gitxsan unhappy with the society's signing of an economic benefits agreement with Enbridge stemming from its Northern Gateway oil pipeline have been at the office for several days now.
“The order was obtained by [the Gitxsan Treaty Society] without notice to anyone, after they appeared before Justice Davies in Vancouver,” reads a release from hereditary chiefs unhappy with the Enbridge deal.
It says police officers are “authorized to arrest anyone blocking access to the [treaty society] premises.”
Gitxsan chief land claims negotiator Elmer Derrick from the treaty society, which was established to negotiate a land claims deal and which controls several business enterprises, on Dec. 2 signed a deal with senior Enbridge official Janet Holder laying out benefits worth $7 million tied to obtaining an equity position in the Northern Gateway pipeline project.
That touched off a series of protests by Gitxsan who say Derrick and the society had no authority to sign the deal.
The protesting Gitxsan also say a majority of Gitxsan, including hereditary chiefs, are opposed to the pipeline plan they say poses an unacceptable environmental risk.
The protesting Gitxsan who have been at the treaty society offices for several days say they fired the society's board of directors and senior staffers Dec. 6 “on loss of confidence and breach of the Gitxsan law and protocols.”
“We cannot allow [the society] to continue to conduct Gitxsan business under false pretenses when they have no authority to do so,” reads the release from Gitxsan hereditary chiefs unhappy with the deal.
Speaking late last week, Derrick said the society had the backing of a majority of hereditary chiefs to sign the Enbridge deal.
Enbridge says it will provide an equity stake worth 10 per cent of the $5.5 billion pipeline project to First Nations and will lend money at favourable rates to make that happen.
It says it has identified more than 40 First Nations in BC and Alberta it says meet its criteria of having reserve or traditional territory within 80km of the planned pipeline route.
The proposal pipeline route itself does not go through Gitksan traditional territory or reserve lands.
The Northern Gateway pipeline would run 1,100 kilometres in length, transporting Alberta oil to a marine export terminal at Kitimat.
First Nations and environmental groups say both the pipeline and the prospect of oil-laden tankers on the north coast are unacceptable.
Formal federal hearings into the project start next month.