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Frustrated with government, Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs wavering on support for B.C. pipeline

April 2, 2024

As tensions in northwest B.C. persist over pipelines, court-ordered injunctions and police enforcement, Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs demand government respect and dialogue

Nearly a decade after signing agreements for a major pipeline project, support from the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs appears to be fraying. Photo: Matt Simmons / The Narwhal

The Narwhal: On a bitterly cold morning in early March, Gitxsan Simgiigyat (Hereditary Chiefs) stood outside the provincial Supreme Court building in Smithers, B.C., their regalia fending off the icy air.

“Our way of life has been subverted by the Canadian government,” Simogyat (Chief) Molaxan Norman Moore told a gathering of supporters and observers, his voice reverberating off the drab concrete building.

Inside, proceedings continued for a Hereditary Chief of the neighbouring Wet’suwet’en Nation, who was found guilty of criminal contempt in February. The Simgiigyat organized the demonstration to show their support for Dinï ze’ (Hereditary Chief) Dsta’hyl, who was arrested in October 2021 after decommissioning Coastal GasLink machinery at pipeline construction sites on his Likhts’amisyu Clan territory. 

“They’re treating us as wards of the government. They’re treating us as minions,” Molaxan told The Narwhal in an interview. “We say things and it just goes past and they’re just sitting there, nonchalant. They’re brushing us off. The government is brushing us off.”

Simogyat (Gitxsan Hereditary Chief) Molaxan Norman Moore
Simogyat (Gitxsan Hereditary Chief) Molaxan Norman Moore expressed his frustrations, alleging the Government of Canada is failing in its duties to uphold Indigenous Rights and Title, as affirmed by a 1997 Supreme Court of Canada decision. Photo: Matt Simmons / The Narwhal 

The Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en have alliances that span thousands of years. But the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs’ public disapproval of government conduct is noteworthy, since it marks a departure from their previous approach to the fossil fuel industry.

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