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Gitksan Propose Alternative Governance Model

Citing a desire to avoid the “parallel society” concept created by the current treaty process in British Columbia, the Office of the Gitksan Chiefs (Hazelton, BC; Skeena River) is promoting a new governance model in its continuing treaty negotiations with British Columbia and Canada. Two weeks ago, the Gitksan took out half page ads in major newspapers. Now, the media blitz has started. From the Vancouver Sun (or here):

Gordon Sebastian, executive director of the Gitxsan Treaty Office, calls the model on which the existing treaty system is based “a parallel society.”

“In this model,” Sebastian said in an interview, “we’ll forever be subject to and dependent upon the government.

“We don’t want to be a burden to Ottawa. And we don’t want Ottawa to be a burden on us. We want to be free to be Gitxsan again.”

The current treaty model, he said, “prevents us from competing with the main society in Canada.

“It keeps us in check. That’s all it does.”

The Gitxsan adopted a policy statement this spring that says they “do not wish to continue to receive taxpayers’ money from Ottawa,” nor levy taxes within Gitxsan territory, nor have local law-making powers, nor establish parallel government organizations to deliver services that are already provided by the federal and provincial governments.

They say they want to pay income and sales taxes “just as other Canadians” while running their internal affairs through the existing system of hereditary chiefs.

“We come to the table as committed Canadians, paying our taxes and contributing to the country,” the policy statement says.

“We seek no special status nor any parallel society. We wish to live as ordinary Canadians in our own way in a multicultural society.

“Further, we wish to pay our own way.”

This, on a day when the Fraser Institute releases a report on the flaws and costs of the Treaty Process. The report is available at or by viewing this press release.

Also: This report from July 9 2008 includes a pdf file describing the governance model.

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  1. Gitxsan Ts'iits' Blog » Gitxsan Issues on Thursday, September 25, 2008 at 9:32 pm

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