Gitxsan Nation orders CN Rail, foresters, fishermen, off lands

by The Canadian Press (CPSTF)

TERRACE, British Columbia—The Gitxsan (git-SAN’) First Nation is shutting down the Canadian National Railway line through Gitxsan traditional territories in northwestern British Columbia.

The railway connects Prince Rupert’s busy port with the rest of Canada, but a release says the Gitxsan have no choice but to enforce evictions against CN, as well as any forestry operations and all sportfishermen inside claimed territory roughly the size of the Netherlands.

The release says 54 hereditary Gitxsan chiefs met Monday with federal and provincial representatives and CN officials but could not resolve differences over parcels of land and rights claimed by the Gitxsan but offered by the Crown to two neighbouring Indian bands.

Industry and sportfishing evictions were issued last month after the Supreme Court of Canada upheld First Nations title rights to claimed land and required aboriginal consent before any development proceeds.

Gitxsan negotiator Beverley Clifton Percival says two years of work with both levels of government has not produced a solution for the region which includes 33,000 square kilometres of northwestern B.C., from Terrace to Smithers and north to Iskut and Bear Lake.

The hereditary chiefs say they want to a settlement and they have invited federal and provincial representatives to meet Thursday in hopes of avoiding further closures.