By Rob Smith
APTN National News
VANCOUVER-Gitxsan hereditary chiefs have rejected a deal signed by one of their negotiators with Enbridge over the energy firm’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline to transport Alberta bitumen to a West Coast port in Kitimat, B.C.
Gitxsan hereditary chiefs voted 28 to eight to reject the deal during a meeting Tuesday evening outside of Hazelton, B.C.
The deal was signed last December by Elmer Derrick, who is a Gitxsan Treaty Society negotiator, triggering outrage among many Gitxsan people who said the move embarrassed them before their First Nations neighbours in the province who have pledged to stop the pipeline project at all cost.
Gitxsan protestors nailed shut the Treaty Society’s office door in protest and set up a running blockade in front of the building to prevent anyone from entering.
The RCMP refused to intervene.
Derrick claimed the deal to support the pipeline project would have given the Gitxsan $7 million.
A source, however, told APTN National News, that the Gitxsan would only have received a portion of the $7 million which Enbridge has set aside to divide among all First Nations that signed onto the deal.
On Enbridge’s Web site, the company promised 10 percent of the $5.5 billion project would go to First Nations. Chiefs learned that was an opportunity to buy stock in the pipeline company.
Dozens of First Nations in B.C. have pledged to stop the pipeline and they represent the most potent opposition to the project, which also faces resistance from environmental groups and municipalities in the province.
Enbridge did not respond to a request for comment from APTN National News, but issued a statement reported by other media confirming the Gitxsan deal was dead, but that “more than 20” First Nations groups had endorsed deals with the energy firm.
The firm presented no evidence to back up this claim.