Opponents of the Gitxsan Treaty Society spent Monday preparing themselves for arrest. For much of the day, Gitxsan community members crowded at one end of Omineca Street before the Gitxsan Treaty Society offices while police assembled a block away.

The day had a strange character. A hot, sunny day in the north, people set up lawn chairs, visited friends and family, and wandered down the block to buy ice cream. Children played on the sidewalk, while elders sat and talked. However, beneath the conviviality of community life lay deep-seated tensions.

Although revenues from resource extraction on Gitxsan territories has long enriched government coffers, the Gitxsan remain among the poorest people in the province. For decades the Gitxsan people have struggled for recognition of their rights to their land. But within the community, there are increasing concerns that the people tasked with protecting Gitxsan territories at the negotiating tables have become disconnected from their communities…

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