Wet’suwet’en

The Gitxsan: Betrayal of a Nation

Feb
12

The Gitxsan: Betrayal of a Nation
by Arthur Topham
January 27, 2004

 

“We know that justice and generosity can flourish only in an atmosphere of trust. For if individuals and minorities do not feel protected against the possibility of the tyranny of the majority, if French-speaking Canadians or native peoples or new Canadians do not feel they will be treated with justice, it is useless to ask them to open their hearts and minds to their fellow Canadians.”

– Pierre Trudeau, April 17, 1982

The irony contained in the Globe & Mail’s January 27, 04 front page story “Throne Speech has native focus” sure was not lost on the 50 Hereditary Chiefs of the Gitxsan Nation and their 5000 band members living in the north-western region of central British Columbia.

Just weeks ago, on the 14th of January, this same group of frustrated, disillusioned, yet determined people, filed a lengthy and controversial Complaint to the Canadian Judicial Council (CJC) and the federal Minister of Justice, Mr. Irwin Cotler citing a shocking list of grievances against an array of highly prominent B.C. judges, lawyers, law firms, politicians and corporations all linked to a host of crimes ranging from misconduct to deceit, bribery, corruption, obstruction of justice and complicity, the sum of which has devastated and endangered the 33,000 square kilometre area of their traditional lands.

First and foremost of the complaints is the conduct of B.C.’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald J. Brenner while presiding over the “restructuring” proceedings related to a large forest products company in Prince Rupert, B.C.; one in which the provincial government held controlling interest and declining revenues. That initial example, shown in great detail within the lengthy submission, exemplified at the onset the serious nature of the many other accusations of fault contained within the document, illustrating once again the seemingly endless challenges which have plagued the treaty process in B.C. for decades.

Readers may recall that it was this same First Nation that captured headlines across the country during the latter part of the Mulroney era when what the Claimants describe as “arguably the most important case in Canadian jurisprudence” the Gitxsan Wet’suwet’en land claims trial, known as Delgamuukw, finally concluded with judgment on March 8, 1991, after 374 protracted court days stretching over a three year period.

According to Ron Jackson and Robert Jackson, the two signatories of the Complaint representing the 50 Hereditary Gitxsan Chiefs and their people, the original Delgamuukw trial was a staggeringly complex and insidious deception that saw figures from all levels of government, the judiciary, industry and the media conspiring to foist upon the general public, and specifically the Gitxsan people themselves, a horrendous “legal” hoax which would allow the B.C. government to further augment its power over the traditional territories of the Gitxsan Wet’suwet’en for the benefit of all vested interests except the indigenous inhabitants of the region themselves.

The list of characters in this epic drama of alleged deceit and corruption is so inclusive that it leaves no stone unturned insofar as the various levels of government and the judiciary are concerned. In fact the list of adversaries aligned against this beleaguered Nation has, in the eyes of the 50 Hereditary Chiefs, virtually eliminated any possibility that the Gitxsan Complainants might receive justice in their home province.

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