TransCanada Corporation’s Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project (PRGT) has signed a project agreement with 12 hereditary chiefs of the Gitxsan Nation. The hereditary chiefs each represent a Wilp (house group) whose territory is affected by the project route. The agreement outlines economic and employment benefits as well as other commitments that will be provided for as long as the project is in service.
“This agreement is the product of our engagement with the Gitxsan hereditary leadership. This comprehensive agreement provides long-term economic benefits, jobs, contracting opportunities and information sharing throughout the life of the project,” said Tony Palmer, president of PRGT. “A lot of hard work and compromise went into this agreement, and it reflects our desire to work cooperatively with the Gitxsan,” said Palmer.
Gitxsan Hereditary Chief Luutkudziiwus (Gordon Sebastian), explains the authority of hereditary chiefs in the Gitxsan Hereditary system, “The Supreme Court of Canada’s 1997 Delgamuukw decision affirmed that each Gitxsan Wilp (house group) has jurisdiction over its Lax Yip (the Wilp’s traditional territory) in accordance with the Ayookim Gitxsan (Gitxsan Law); each Wilp has the authority and power to make decisions as it sees fit for the good of the Wilp. As such, the 12 Hereditary Chiefs bargained hard with PRGT to ensure that the environment is protected, and that the agreement provides for long term benefits to each of the affected Wilp and to the broader Gitxsan Nation,” said Chief Sebastian.
Hereditary Chief Geel (Catherine Blackstock) said the agreement is important to the economic health of northern B.C., “I envision this as a great opportunity for all Gitxsan and community people to revitalize employment in our economically depressed upper Skeena region.”
PRGT has now announced 13 project agreements executed with First Nations in B.C. They include: Blueberry River First Nations, Doig River, Gitanyow, Halfway River, Kitselas First Nation, Lake Babine Nation, McLeod Lake Indian Band, Metlakatla First Nation, Nisga’a Lisims Government, Takla Lake First Nation, Tl’azt’en Nation and Yekooche First Nation.