Monday, August 4, 2014

Deadline in British Columbia for “Eviction” from Gitxsan Aboriginal Lands Arrives; Chiefs Plan “Direct Action”

Chief Francis Laceese of the Tl’esqox First Nation

Last month in this blog, I reported on an announcement by hereditary chiefs from the indigenous Gitxsan nation in northern British Columbia that, in light of recent Supreme Court decisions in Canada recognizing aboriginal title, railroads, sport fishing, and logging operations in the vast Gitxsan territories had until August 4th to clear out.  Today is the deadline for that “eviction notice,” and there are no indications that any of the entities served notice are pulling up stakes and decamping.
A “Gitxsan against Enbridge” demonstration in 2012
The Gitxsan’s negotiator, Gwaans, whose English name is Beverley Clifton Percival, told an interviewer last week that if the deadline passed with no movement, then “next steps” would be taken.  “We are going to take action against C.N. [Canadian National Railways], and we are going to look at the railway line and a potential disruption of service,” she added.  “We’re going to take action August 5 if there is no action by the Crown. ... We don’t want any violence or confrontation, but we want the Crown to step up.  We want to deal with C.N., we want to deal with the sport fisheries, we want to deal with B.C. Timber Sales.”

The Supreme Court of Canada’s June 26th ruling in favor of the Tsihlqotin (a.k.a. Chilcotin) First Nation, in south-central B.C., affirmed that in unceded, untreatied lands such as those of the Tsihlq’otin, Gitxsan, and most other aboriginal nations within the province’s declared boundaries, non-aboriginals would need “consent” in order to use the land.  This replaces the previous political dispensation, under which ill-defined “consultation” was sufficient.

There are also at least eleven lawsuits now filed by B.C. First Nations seeking to halt Enbridge Inc.’s planned Northern Gateway Pipeline from the Alberta tar sands to Kitimat, B.C., through Gitxsan and other territories.  (To complicate matters, not all Gitxsan hereditary chiefs are in favor of the eviction notice or against the Enbridge pipeline.)

None of the government ministries or private firms to which the eviction notice is to apply had any comment.

This blog will keep readers updated on what happens as the day for action against arrives tomorrow.

[You can read more about the Gitxsan and other indigenous, separatist, and new-nation movements, both famous and obscure, in my new book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas just published by Litwin Books under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements and Aspirant Nations, from Abkhazia to Zanzibar.  The book, which contains 46 maps and 554 flags (or, more accurately, 554 flag images), is available for order now on Amazon.  Meanwhile, please “like” the book (even if you haven’t read it yet) on Facebook and see this interview for more information on the book.]

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