The Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs (Nation/Huwilp) and the governments of British Columbia and Canada have signed the Gitanyow Governance Accord.
The accord provides a path forward in the B.C. Treaty process toward full self-government, led by a restored Gitanyow hereditary governance system.
The tripartite accord commits Gitanyow, the Province and Canada to a series of steps needed to transition away from the federal Indian Act by revitalizing and achieving legal recognition of Gitanyow hereditary governance system of the Huwilp/Houses within five years. It is a process of rebuilding Gitanyow hereditary governance with modern-day governance tools and provides an important example of the benefits of implementing rights and title through negotiation, rather than relying on the courts.
By signing the accord, Gitanyow, the Province and Canada have agreed on key milestones to be reached within five years, including:
- revitalizing the Gitanyow Constitution, governance structures and developing a citizenship code;
- negotiating an inherent governance agreement that sets out steps to Gitanyow self-government; and
- ratifying and implementing the Gitanyow Inherent Governance Agreement.
All partners working on the accord recognize that self-determination is an important step in advancing reconciliation and remain committed to moving forward in a purposeful manner that respects the time and collaboration required to achieve this goal.
Simogyet Malii Glen Williams, President, Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs Office –
“This is a historic step in recognition of who we are as hereditary governed people. My grandfather told me as a young boy that our laws have been suppressed, but one day they will grow from a small spark and spread light over the land once again."
Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations –
“Signing this accord affirms our commitment to renewing Nation-to-Nation relationships and recognizing Gitanyow’s hereditary structure and their right to self-government. Indigenous-led processes are key to accelerating the path to self-determination. We look forward to working in collaboration with our partners on this important step towards meaningful reconciliation.”
Murray Rankin, B.C.’s Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation –
“It is vital that we focus on building relationships based on respect and recognition of rights and support Nations as they define their own governance systems. The signing of this accord recognizes Gitanyow’s inherent right to self-government, while also setting a positive example of a governance pathway for other hereditary Nations in all of our reconciliation agreements, including within the B.C. Treaty process.”
Nathan Cullen, MLA for Stikine –
“With the Gitanyow Governance Accord, we are working in partnership to support a self-governing Gitanyow Nation – a strong and proud Nation no longer subject to the Indian Act, and led by a recognized hereditary governance system with strong support and unity from within the Nation. The accord is a positive example of the benefits to everyone of implementing First Nations rights and title through hard work, commitment and focused negotiation efforts, rather than relying on the courts.”
- Gitanyow is represented by eight hereditary chiefs that each lead a Wilp (house group) and come together as the Huwilp on matters of common interest.
- The Gitanyow Nation’s territory covers approximately 1.7 million hectares of northwestern British Columbia.
- Gitanyow is in stage 4 of the B.C. Treaty process.
- Canada and the Province endorsed and committed to fully implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2019.
- A tripartite governance working group will be established within 45 days of the signing of the accord, with Gitanyow, the Province and Canada appointing at least one representative.
View the accord:
For more information about UNDRIP, visit the United Nations’ website:
B.C.’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act can be found here: