A news release issued late this afternoon, June 11, 2012, by the Gitxsan Unity Movement says the group has lifted the blockade of the boarded up treaty office in Hazelton.
Gitxsan Unity says the group took down the blockade, remoiving the plywood and lumber blocking all access to allow an “enforced forensic audit” from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (formerly Indian and Northern Affairs Canada) Special Investigations office. According the release, the Chief Audit and Evaluation Executive, Anne Scotton, from Departmental Audit and Evaluation Branch, arrived at the office, once known as Gitxsan Treaty Society, now called the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs Office, accompanied by two auditors from the Ottawa branch of Deloitte and Touche
Access to the office was negotiated in collaboration with the RCMP over the past two weeks. The release says GTS staff were permitted to enter the building to assist the auditors to locate material related to the forensic audit.
The release says
Scotton advised the auditors will be mirroring (copying) the hard drives of all the computers as well as scanning all the files and paperwork in the offices. They will also attend all the satellite offices and the off site accountants offices in Smithers to ensure they secure all the documentation for their investigations.
The release goes onto say the movement appreciates the help of Aboriginal Affairs and the RCMP “in securing all financial statements and material relative to the operations of the GTS. It will show accountability to the money received in the name of the Gitxsan people.”
GUM remains open to and extends an invitation to the GTS Gimlitxwit to meet and settle unresolved issues pertaining to transparency and the return of authority and jurisdiction back to its’ rightful place, the Gitxsan Simgigyet and the Gitxsan Nation.
The release then goes to the heart of the issue when on Dec. 2, 2011, Elmer Derrick signed an agreement with Enbridge for a stake in the Northern Gateway Pipeline. That agreement was repudiated by Gitxsan leaders the following day and the office blockaded that weekend. While there was a court injunction ordering an end to the blockade, negotiations continued for months for a peaceful end to the dispute. Last week, on June 5, 2012, when Enbridge claimed it has the support of 60 per cent of First Nations along the route of the controversial pipeline, Enbridge repeated its contention that the agreement signed by Derrick is valid.
However the Gitxsan Unity Movement says:
TAKE NOTICE that the Gitxsan Treaty Society and terminated staff, Gordon Sebastian, Elmer Derrick and Beverley Clifton-Percival, are not authorized representatives of the Gitxsan people. Any act engaged in by this entity or individuals representing themselves as authorized representative is invalid and of no force and effect as against the Gitxsan people. Any Government, entity or individual who engages in negotiation or business transactions with GTS or terminated staff, do so at their own risk
GUM has moved a step closer, but also realizes the real work has just begun. Our goal is to bring harmony between the Gitxsan government and the values, law and will of the Gitxsan.