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GITANYOW LAX’YIP, Dec. 14, 2023 — The Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs (GHC) stand resolute, ready to contest any attempts to transfer FLA16882 to a non-Gitanyow entity. This forestry license, deeply intertwined with Gitanyow’s traditional lands, presents an unmistakable and high potential for substantial adverse impacts on Gitanyow’s rights.
FLA16882, formerly held by Skeena Sawmills (SS) in Terrace, British Columbia, is one of three forest licenses. Despite a Cooperative Harvest Agreement previously in place with Gitanyow, SS’s recent bankruptcy has put its assets, including FLA16882, in receivership.
Gitanyow’s offer to purchase FLA16882, which significantly overlaps Gitanyow Lax’yip (Territory), was initially declined, as SS aims to sell assets as a complete package, including the Terrace Mill and all forest licenses.
“The Chiefs have formally alerted the Receiver overseeing the assets of Skeena Sawmills and the B.C. government of our unyielding stance to defend Gitanyow’s constitutionally protected rights,” says Simogyet (Hereditary Chief) Malii.
“Our challenge will involve a comprehensive strategy, including legal action, political advocacy, public outreach, and on-the-ground actions.”
British Columbia’s published policy allows for a disposition resulting from a change of control or an amalgamation without prior written approval. However, a ministerial review is mandated after providing written notice within 30 days of such a change.
The Forest Act dictates the Minister consider the effects of the disposition on fiber marketing in British Columbia and the public interest. Reconciliation is recognized as a fundamental component of the “public interest.”
Joel Starlund, Executive Director of the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs’ Office, emphasizes, “Gitanyow stands firm in its resolve and strongly urges potential proponents to reconsider their pursuit of FLA16882.”
“We appreciate the public’s understanding and support as we embark on this critical mission to protect our ancestral lands and uphold our rights.”
The Simigigyet’m Gitanyow (Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs) are an innovative, traditional Indigenous government mandated to protect Gitanyow Nation’s lands, resources, and laws. The Gitanyow have never ceded or surrendered title to their lands, rights to their resources, or the power to make decisions within their Lax’yip (Territory). The Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs’ goal is to establish government-to-government agreements that form the foundation of a modern-day treaty through an incremental treaty approach. In 2012, the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs and the province of British Columbia signed the Gitanyow Lax’Yip Land Use Plan to guide all industrial activity. Gitanyow Nation is part of the larger Gitksan Nation, encompassing 6,200 square kilometres in the Nass and Skeena Watersheds (Kitwanga and Kispiox Rivers).
Learn more by visiting gitanyowchiefs.com and following @gitanyowchiefs on Instagram.
Communications Coordinator 778-202-9079 (cell)