A GROUP of Gitxsan oppose yesterday’s agreement whereby Enbridge will provide Gitxsan hereditary chiefs with an equity stake in its $5.5 billion Northern Gateway pipeline project.
The opposition group says it speaks for a majority of Gitxsan people and that those who negotiated the agreement had no right to do so.
“The Gitxsan people had no knowledge of the proposed agreement nor were they consulted,” said a release issued over the name of Marjorie McRae, the chief councillor for Gitanmaax, which is one of the Gitxsan bands in the Hazeltons.
“The environmental review process is not yet complete with community hearings being scheduled for January 2012; therefore, a decision to support it is, at best, premature. Until the environmental assessment is complete there is no basis for saying this project is safe to build,” the release continued.
McRae and others are also suing the Gitxsan Treaty Society (one of its participants is Gitxsan hereditary chief Elmer Derrick who signed the Enbridge agreement) over how the society wants to settle the Gitxsan land claim.
The Enbridge deal could return as much as $7 million to the Gitxsan, a sum called a pittance by McRae and others.
That the Gitxsan Treaty Society “is willing to jeopardize the sustenance of the First Nations people for a few million dollars is reprehensible and is not supported by the Gitxsan people,” the release continued.
The Gitxsan deal signed with Enbridge is the first of its kind to be released and the company says it is negotiating with other First Nations.
The pipeline route does not cross Gitxsan territory and part of the deal with Enbridge involves the possibility of developing renewal energy projects in the region.
So far, a number of First Nations have come out against the project to build a pipeline carrying Alberta oil to a marine export terminal at Kitimat.
They cite environmental and other concerns.
Formal federal hearings into the project are to start in January.