The B.C. government and Gitanyow Nation have reached a reconciliation agreement that will lead to shared decision-making and allow the Gitanyow to explore economic opportunities associated with the development of the Northwest Transmission Line.
The agreement also will protect areas important to the Gitanyow's traditional way of life.
The Gitanyow Huwilp Recognition and Reconciliation Agreement establishes a Joint Resources Governance Forum that will create a one-window approach to consultations and decision-making for potential development in an area covering 6,285 square kilometres in northwest British Columbia.
As a result of this agreement and other recently signed agreements with the Taku River Tlingit and Kaska Nations, a one-window approach that ensures timely decision-making and ongoing First Nations' input is now in place for an area totalling 146,300 square kilometres in British Columbia's northwest. This area covers 15 per cent of British Columbia's land base and is almost 4.5 times the size of Vancouver Island.
The agreement provides $600,000 over three years for its implementation, the completion of an economic opportunities study, and the preparation of a socio-economic well-being strategy. Economic opportunities contained in the agreement include the development of an alternative energy action plan for Gitanyow territory, as well as the development of a carbon-offset sharing system that will reduce greenhouse gases. In addition, the agreement includes the prospect of exploring further opportunities in forestry and mining.
The agreement also supports efforts to protect the 24,000-hectare Hanna Tintina area and establishes a collaborative planning process for the portions of Gitanyow territory within existing provincial parks.
Ida Chong, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation -
"This agreement formalizes the government's strong working relationship with the Gitanyow Nation. The development of economic opportunities from the Northwest Transmission Line, such as clean energy projects, will provide substantial economic and employment benefits for the Gitanyow and for residents in nearby communities such as Hazelton, Terrace and Smithers."
Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resources Operations -
"This agreement will support the Gitanyow's social and economic goals, bring certainty to the land base and facilitate investment that will benefit all the communities in the Northwest. In addition, by creating a one-window approach, this agreement will result in a more efficient consultation process for both parties."
Chief Gamlakyeltxw, Wil Marsden, Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs Office -
"This agreement is a positive step towards reconciling Gitanyow Huwilp Ayookxw with provincial interests. The Province's recognition of our Wilp boundaries, Ayookxw, and Adawaak, and their commitment to implementing shared decision-making will result in greater transparency and predictability for those seeking to operate within the Gitanyow Lax'yip."
- The Gitanyow Nation is composed of eight historic Wilp (houses), which are the social, political and governing units of the Gitanyow. Collectively, they are known as the Gitanyow Huwilp.
- As of June 2012, Gitanyow Nation has 796 registered members, with 363 living on reserve mainly in the community of Gitanyow, 140 kilometres northeast of Terrace.
- The nearest communities are Hazelton, Smithers and Terrace.
- The Northwest Transmission Line is a $561-million, 287-kilovolt, 344-kilometre, publicly owned transmission line from Skeena Substation (near Terrace) to Bob Quinn Lake. It will open up B.C.'s Northwest to clean energy and mining projects.
- Ayookxw is Gitanyow law, which among other things, governs the ownership of Gitanyow land and resources.
- Adawaak is the record of the oral history of each Wilp, including the origin of Wilp members, crests (Ayuuks), leadership, acquisition, and rights and authority over its territories and resources.
- Lax'yip is the traditional territory of the Gitanyow, as identified in the individual Wilp maps included in the Recognition & Reconciliation Agreement.
For more information about the Gitanyow Huwilp Recognition and Reconciliation Agreement, visit: www.newrelationship.gov.bc.ca/agreements_and_leg/reconciliation.html
Director of Communications
Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Operations
Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs Office
250 615-9597 (cell)