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REPORTING · 13th January 2012
Merv Ritchie
In the arguments before Judge McEwen, the legal team representing the GTS (Gitxsan Treaty Society), Elmer Derrick, Bev Percival and Gordon Sebastion, claimed the Hereditary Chiefs and band members suing them had no standing.

The Vancouver legal team from Bull, Housser &Tupper LLP began their arguments in Smithers Court by stating the Hereditary Chiefs and the Band Councils had no right to even make a claim against the GTS as they were not members or stakeholders in the GTS, that they had no standing.

To back up their argument the lawyer used an analogy. The lawyer referred to the GTS (Derrick, Percival and Sebastion) as being like the Salvation Army that offers charity and referred to those suing them as being no different than the patrons at the soup kitchen.

According to a news release issued on Tuesday, January 10, the lawyers argued “the plaintiff’s [Hereditary Chiefs and others] are the object of the Society’s charitable or philanthropic goals; they are not stakeholders” and so they have no standing to complain.

In making this argument the lawyers also admitted no one was actually a member in good standing. Since the Society’s inception, 1994, it has been operating under invalid bylaws of appointing Board members not electing. It appears as if the GTS has never been a legal entity.

When the Judge heard this admission he stopped the hearing. He wasn’t prepared to hear arguments from a law firm who was knowingly representing an illegal entity.

On exiting the Courthouse one lawyer was heard making a comment to a former GTS director similar to, ‘Well we sure shot ourselves in the foot with that one didn’t we.’

On condition of anonymity we were informed the former Executive Director of the GTS, Gordon Sebastion, approached the Forestry Offices the next day, Tuesday, in an attempt to secure further logging rights. The Provincial Government had already advised forestry the legality of the GTS was in question and no one would entertain discussion with Sebastion.

On Wednesday, January 12, they were all back in Court again and the Judge allowed the now defunct GTS to attempt to convince the Society Registrar to allow them to use Section 85 of the Act to resurrect their society which has put the Gitxsan Nation into a $20 million debt. The Judge is giving Derrick et al until January 20, 2012 to explain how they will proceed. The Hereditary Chiefs will then have until February 8 to respond to their new arguments.

This Court Action #15150 was started after the GTS attempted to initiate a new system of government over the Gitxsan people called the Alternative Governance Model. Some Hereditary Chiefs and Band Councils had written to the Provincial Government complaining about the GTS and its illegitimacy but the Province failed to act. The GTS continued to receive funds from the BC Treaty Commission (BCTC). The Hereditary Chiefs then started the action in 2009 and listed both “The Queen in the Right of British Columbia” and the “Queen in the Right of Canada” as defendants along side the Gitxsan Treaty Society.

It was coincidental that Enbridge called and convinced Elmer Derrick to participate in a support signing ceremony and News conference on December 3, 2011 as this court case was already scheduled to be heard. What the news of the signing did was galvanize the support against the GTS by most of the Gitxsan Nation.

Today we were advised the former board of the GTS is going door to door in an attempt to sign up members of the Gitxsan Nation to their cause. They are also planning a cultural ‘Gimlitwit’ to gather more support.

If the former GTS Board cannot find a way to resurrect their Society it will remain clear the law firm of Bull, Housser &Tupper LLP, the Province of British Columbia, the Canadian Government and now Enbridge Oil have all been negligent in performing the most basic of legal tasks, ensuring the entity you are entering into contractual matters with is legal. It will also put the $20 Million debt at a great distance from the Gitxsan Nation as it was delivered by the Provincial and Federal Government to an illegal entity that was clearly not representing the Gitxsan Nation.

Just like the BC Rail affair (the raid of the BC Legislature) and many other matters it is almost certain the law firm and the Governments will find a way to ensure the Gitxsan remain indebted and no embarrassment will befall them and their friends.