The Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs (Nation/Huwilp) and the Governments of British Columbia and Canada have signed the Gitanyow Governance Accord which provides a path forward in the BC Treaty Process towards full self-government led by a restored Gitanyow hereditary governance system.
The tripartite Accord commits Gitanyow, B.C. and Canada to a series of steps needed to transition away from the Indian Act by revitalizing and achieving legal recognition of the Gitanyow hereditary governance system of the Huwilp/Houses within five years. It is a process of rebuilding the Gitanyow Hereditary Governance with modern day governance tools and provides an important example of the benefits of implementing rights and title through negotiation rather than relying on the courts.
By signing the Accord, Gitanyow, B.C. and Canada have agreed on key milestones to be reached within five years, including:
- Revitalize the Gitanyow Constitution, governance structures and develop a citizenship code;
- Negotiate an Inherent Governance Agreement that sets out steps to Gitanyow self-government; and
- Ratify and implement the Gitanyow Inherent Governance Agreement.
All partners working on the Accord recognize that self-determination is an important step in advancing reconciliation and remain committed to moving forward in a purposeful manner that respects the time and collaboration required to achieve this goal.
“This is a historic step in recognition of who we are as hereditary governed people. My grandfather told me as a young boy that our laws have been suppressed, but one day they will grow from a small spark and spread light over the land once again.”
Simogyet Malii Glen Williams
“Signing this Accord affirms our commitment to renewing nation-to-nation relationships and recognizing Gitanyow’s hereditary structure and their right to self-government. Indigenous led processes are key to accelerating the path to self-determination. We look forward to working in collaboration with our partners on this important step towards meaningful reconciliation.”
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
“It is vital that we focus on building relationships based on respect and recognition of rights and support Nations as they define their own governance systems. The signing of this Accord recognizes Gitanyow’s inherent right to self-government while also setting a positive example of a governance pathway for other hereditary nations within the BC Treaty process.”
Honourable Murray Rankin
B.C. Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation
“With the Gitanyow Governance Accord, we are working in partnership to support a self-governing Gitanyow Nation – a strong and proud Nation no longer subject to the Indian Act, and led by a recognized hereditary governance system with strong support and unity from within the Nation. The accord is a positive example of the benefits to everyone of implementing First Nations rights and title through hard work, commitment and focused negotiation efforts, rather than relying on the courts.”
MLA Nathan Cullen
- Gitanyow is represented by eight hereditary chiefs that each lead a Wilp (house group) and come together as the Huwilp on matters of common interest.
- The Gitanyow Nation traditional territory covers approximately 1.7 million hectares of north western British Columbia
- Gitanyow is in stage four of the BC Treaty Process.
- Canada and British Columbia endorsed and committed to fully implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2019.
- A Tripartite Governance Working Group will be established within 45 days of the signing of the Accord, with Gitanyow, B.C. and Canada appointing at least one representative.