The Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs and Wilp Wii Litsxw invite you to join in the celebration and commemoration of the second anniversary of the establishment of the Meziadin Indigenous Protected Area (MIPA) on August 28, 2023. This milestone event marks a significant step forward in the preservation and stewardship of Gitanyow Nation’s Lax’yip (Territory), an area encompassing the heart of the Nass watershed in northwest British Columbia.
Gitanyow’s Lax’yip is a sanctuary for diverse wildlife and a vital source of glacial-fed waters, including the Meziadin watershed; home to one of Canada’s last thriving populations of wild Sockeye salmon, making its conservation of utmost importance.
MIPA exercises Gitanyow’s Ayookxw (supreme law) and utilizes Western and traditional science to develop a complex understanding of the ecological health of the Lax’yip and takes the necessary steps to address the pressing challenges posed by climate change.
This declaration was made in anticipation of any provincial decisions, reaffirming the unwavering commitment of the Gitanyow Nation to protect its ancestral lands.
“We have affirmed in our Ayookxw that the entire Meziadin watershed is protected from mining and mineral exploration, railway and other major industrial development,” said Simogyet (Hereditary Chief) Wii Litsxw. “We took this important step to let government, industry and the general public know that this area must be cared for by the original stewards of this land — Wilp Wii Litsxw and the Gitanyow.”
“Indigenous stewardship is vital for protecting wild salmon,” said Naxginkw, Tara Marsden, Wilp Sustainability Director for the Gitanyow Hereditary Chief’s Office. “This year we are seeing record returns compared to recent years. Over 300 thousand Sockeye are returning to spawn and we want to be sure that future generations can continue to enjoy this bounty as we and our ancestors have.”
Special guest, David Suzuki, will honour the celebration to underscore the pivotal role that Indigenous law plays in environmental governance. Suzuki participated in the award-winning documentary ‘HA NII TOKXW: Our Food Table,’ directed by Farhan Umedaly. The short film captures Gitanyow’s fight to safeguard their Lax’yip in the face of climate change, industrialization, and colonization.
“I believe that the greatest potential gift we have is coming from people that have been pounded so heavily,” said Suzuki in the film. “We’ve had genocidal practices, we’re trying to get rid of their culture, residential schools. All of those things have been to destroy the culture, the only example or model we have for living sustainably.”
The Simigigyet’m Gitanyow (Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs) are an innovative, traditional Indigenous government mandated to protect Gitanyow Nation’s lands, resources, and laws. We have never ceded or surrendered title to our lands, rights to our resources, or the power to make decisions within our Lax’yip. Our goal is to establish government-to-government agreements that form the foundation of a modern-day treaty through an incremental treaty approach. In 2012, the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs and the province of British Columbia signed the Gitanyow Lax’yip Land Use Plan to guide all industrial activity. Gitanyow Nation is part of the larger Gitksan Nation, encompassing 6,200 square kilometres in the Nass and Skeena Watersheds (Kitwanga and Kispiox Rivers).