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Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs Prohibit All Recreational And Sport Fishing In 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

HAZELTON, B.C., April 29, 2019 – Since September 2017, in a historic milestone for the Gitxsan, 38 Hereditary Chiefs – dubbed the Huwilp Government – have been working together to protect the salmon habitat, as salmon are integral to the diet and culture of the indigenous peoples in the Skeena Watershed. The Chiefs are enforcing individual Indigenous rights to the fisheries and bringing awareness for the traditional Gitxsan fisheries tenure (Anaat) along the Skeena River. Central to the Chiefs’ working together, and building on the 2018 ban, is a recreational and sport fishing ban for all license/permit holders in the 2019 season.

“All persons holding recreational fishing permits and/or fish guiding licenses are no longer allowed to trespass in Gitxsan territory. People need to know that when they fish here, they are trespassing in controlled territory,” says Brian Williams, Chair of Gigeenix (Up River Chiefs).

An advisory committee called ‘Crisis Team’ has been created by the Chiefs to focus on discussing public access to fisheries tenure/Anaat for the year 2020. The committee’s mandate also includes an advisory role with stakeholders like BC and Canada and collaboration with other First Nations dealing with the salmon crisis, as part of the Skeena Nations Fish Forum Protocol.

The Crisis team is collaborating with the government to create a future process where all recreational fishers require permission from individual Chiefs to fish on the river. While the ban marks the beginning of an ambitious journey, the process fully respects the Daxgyet of the Simgiigyet and adheres to the tenets of the traditional system (Ayook, Adaakw and Lilliget).

“Our fish are in crisis and this is an ongoing situation with a track record that has been going downhill. We have to do something. The next step we talk about is to find a path to turn this around and banning recreational and sports fishers from fishing our traditional territory is a step in the right direction,” says Art Wilson (Wiimoulglxsw), Gitxsan Hereditary Chief.

A communication platform that includes a website, newsletters and live streaming of meetings has been created to promote transparency around the decisions and actions of Huwilp Government. A full list of participating Chiefs is posted. While 38 Chiefs are currently participating, and the goal is to reflect all of the traditional Gitxsan Anaat.

Download the press release for more details or the Crisis Team Terms of Reference for more details.

 

 

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Stand With Your Simgiigyet

The Gitxsan Simgiigyat (Hereditary Chiefs) are expanding the jurisdiction of the Gitxsan Huwilp Government structure. Our government is rooted in the proud history and culture of the Gitxsan, a hereditary system centred on our Wilp (house), Ayook (law), and Adaawk (oral history).

This government will allow the Gitxsan to be formally included in the division of powers described in Sections 91 & 92 of Canada’s constitution, and most importantly, protect our individual rights to the fisheries in the Skeena Nass watersheds. It recognizes the autonomy of a wilp (house group) while providing a strong unified voice on matters that affect our Nation.

The Gitxsan Huwilp Government will honour the legacy and build upon the leadership of the Simgiigyat demonstrated in the Delgamuukw case.

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First Community Bulletin Published

The Gitxsan Huwilp Government is committed to create new tools for regular engagement with all Gitxsan and the public.

The communications platform is intended to create transparency and accountability for all matters that affect the Gitxsan.

We hope you will enjoy reading the Gitxsan Huwilp Government’s first Community Bulletin (PDF).