Gitxsan First Nation to shut down CN railway through their territory

File / Global News

The CN railway that passes through the Gitxsan First Nation territories will be shutting down, according to the Hereditary Chiefs’ negotiator.

“We have no choice but to go through with the eviction,” said Gwaans (Beverly Clifton Percival), the Gitxsan negotiator.

“We were being reasonable, we were allowing time to pass. The result was more of a non-response. This shows why this reconciliation is needed.”

An eviction notice was given on July 9 to sports fisheries, forest companies and CN Rail, and Hereditary Chiefs voted unanimously on July 30 to enforce the notice.

At issue is the provincial negotiating agreements with the Kitselas and Kitsumkalum bands. The Gitxsan say those treaties took away land from their territory.

“Minister Rustad claims they are working with the Gitxsan on this, yet we have received what amounts to a non-response to our solution to the impasse” said Gwaans in a statement. “This is why the reconciliation process is not working in British Columbia. Despite court rulings there seems to be no willingness to follow the law.”

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Gwaans would not say where they were planning on blocking rail lines, or how they would do so, only that “it will be seen in the coming hours.”

The Gitxsan also believe the provincial and federal governments need to do more to respect last month’s Tsilhqot’in Nation ruling by the Supreme Court, which broadly recognized aboriginal title to land.

READ MORE: Top court grants land title to B.C. First Nation

The Gitxsan territories comprise 33,000 square kilometre in northwestern B.C. They are roughly bordered by Smithers to the east, Terrace to the west, Iskut to the north, and Thudade and Bear Lake to the northeast.

Last month, the province offered $14 million to the Gitxsan to secure a pipeline right-of-way.

An outline of the 33,000 square kilometres of Gitxsan territory in B.C.
An outline of the 33,000 square kilometres of Gitxsan territory in B.C.

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