The Gitxsan Nation is in the midst of a struggle. It is a struggle that colonized people around the world have gone through and will continue to go through; how to live in the new reality while maintaining ones own culture? 

Scot, Jew, Zulu, Maori, Aboriginal and many others have faced the same struggle and each one has found their own answer. 

Part of the answer for the Gitxsan is the Gitxsan Unity Movement . I say part of the answer because it is a complex problem. Each and every day and sometimes every hour a new problem or twist must be faced and a solution found. Below you will find what some Gitxsan are doing to help their people. I hope it will help you to understand some of the problems and some of the solutions that First Nations are struggling through. 
I must also point out that this is not only the struggle of First Nations. This struggle to live a life in respect, in honour, in justice and in unity with all people is also your struggle as it is mine.    

April 2, 2012
Yesterday the Gitxsan Unity Movement had a luncheon at the Sacred Fire. We shared food, trusted one another and opened our hearts. All in all it was very refreshing, 25 Firekeepers and Guardians attended and the food was great! The elder advisors who came, gave thanks and praise for the Unity Movement. Everyone was updated, as to what has been happening within our Nation and , sadly, within the courts too. Most importantly… we met to renew our unified spirit and commitment to our goals. We strive for accountability, transparency and to return the authority and jurisdiction to it’s rightful place, the Gitxsan Simgigyet and the Gitxsan Nation.

With the fact that Judge McKewan, of the B.C. Supreme Court has confirmed that the Gitxsan Treaty Society (GTS) has no legal standing, we now strongly believe in our stance for the truth. We find it astounding that Bev Percival Clifton continues to go to the media and state that it is a mere technicality that can be fixed. GTS has been operating as an illegal entity since the beginning, with few select members and yet the governments of Canada and B.C. continued to supply them with dollars, to negotiate on the Gitxsan Nation’s behalf. The very bases of the GTS foundation has crumbled! We strongly support the Hereditary Chiefs who signed the Declaration. The Executive Director and Negotiators of GTS have been terminated. British Columbia Treaty Commission, the Federal and Provincial Governments, and other third parties have been notified the GTS does not represent the Gitxsan Nation whatsoever.

There was talk of our reasons for becoming a part of the Movement, why are we here at the Sacred Fire? It was unanimous… at the request of the Herditary Chiefs to secure and keep watch of our Nation’s building. To continue to build on Unity. As difficult as it appears, we know we are gaining the advantage. Out in the communities people are talking about what is happening and why things came to this point. We had put our faith into a group of people who claimed to represent us. When in turn they have left us in the dark, going behind our backs making deals without anyone’s consent. This not only embarrassed the Gitxsan Nation, it had also shown a great disrespect to all Gitxsan People. We believe that 100% Unity is attainable within our Nation, to do so, a great healing has to take place. Forgiveness has to happen. Are we ready? Perhaps… are certain individuals prepared to take responsibilities for their actions?

At our luncheon we shared, food, laughter, wisdom, our fears, we opened up our lives to one another and gave genuine support. We talked of our vision of a once proud Nation, with abundant resources. How we have to come together to protect what is ours to look after, for the future generations to follow. To our Hereditary Chiefs, I offer these words from a late very well respected role model, and a Hereditary Chief.

“Hlaa niin xsi gyalatxwit dim ant guuhl hli dax gyets dip niye’en. Dim guudinhl wa midim’y ama gya’adihl Lax Yip.”

“Roughly the translation would be that you are the one that has been selected to take the land that was your inheritance, to hold it and take care of it…

… it also means that you as the Chief have the responsibility of training the younger members of your family so that all the traditions, all the customs, all the rituals within your house are maintained. So in a sense the Chief is also the teacher for the younger people as well as the counsellor, as well as a spiritual leader.”


Joan Ryan

March 1988

Colonialism On Trial
 It is not my intention to offend anyone by posting these wise words, but to encourage dialogue between Chiefs and their house members. We are living in a rapidly changing world, perhaps changing too fast. We as a Nation have to unite to protect the Gitxsan interests, the land, the water and the air. We have got to learn to become more caring and loving of one another and for our neighboring Nations. A man’s wealth is not judged by the amount of luxuries he owns or how much money he has in his bank account, but by the number of friends he has, how hard he works to provide the basic neccesities for his family (extended) and how giving he is of his time to those in need. As a Gitxsan Nation member, I ask myself … am I a good neighbor? House member? Am I involved in the responsibilities of my house? My community?

I encourage each and everyone of you to go to your Chiefs and ask them what their vision for the Gitxsan Nation is. What are they doing to improve the life of your house members? If there is division, then encourage it to be addressed. Our young and yet to be born are worth it!

“In Gitxsan law, you have to work yourself up to become a Chief. You don’t get a Chiefly name just if you want it today, you’ll have it… it will be given to you. It doesn’t work that way. In the Gitxsan Law right from infancy we have to prepare our children to reach the stage of becoming a Head Chief of a house or to become a Chief, the wing of a Chief of the house.”


Mary Mckenzie

May 1987

Colonialism on Trial

The Gitxsan Unity Movement continues to encourage all Gitxsan to visit our Fire and to voice your concerns and vision for our Nation.

The Gitxsan Unity Movement began as Gitxsan Against Enbridge in early December. The goal of the movement is to bring harmony between the Gitxsan government and the values, law, and will of the Gitxsan.

The Chiefs shut down the Gitxsan Treaty Society (GTS) on December 5th because they were acting contrary to Gitxsan law and values through their unilateral agreement with Enbridge. The Gitxsan Unity Movement is 100% volunteer driven, with Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs and members working in the best interest of our land, culture, and people.

Please send comments to :

John Olson

communications co-ordinator


Posted 20 hours ago
by Gitxsan Unity

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