The organizational basis for the Gitxsan Development Corporation (GDC) has been in place for thousands of years through the practice of Gitxsan Ayookw (laws). The seed for the creation of GDC was planted in 1997 when the Supreme Court of Canada handed down its landmark Delgamuukw ruling. The decision recognized that Gitxsan rights and title to its traditional territorial lands is inextiguishable. To effectively realize the opportunity the Gitxsan began a process to determine what the best structure would be, through which all business activities could take place. The Gimlitxwit met regularly to plan and discuss the creation of a business entity, acceptable to the business world but respectful to the traditional governance structure of the Gitxsan people. On June 22, 2011, the Gitxsan Development Corporation became a reality ushering in a new era, where the Gitxsan people will be able to benefit more effectively from their natural resources.
The traditional lands or lax yip of the Gitxsan people encompass 33,000 sq. km of rugged snow-capped mountains, lush forests and swift flowing rivers, in northwestern BC. Since time immemorial, the Gitxsan people have lived off the land sustainably, enjoying a symbiotic relationship that is deeply respectful to it as provider.
Every Gitxsan belong to one of four clans; Lax Gibuu (Wolf), Lax Skiik (Eagle), Lax Seel/Ganeda (Frog), Giskaast (Fireweed). From the clans there are 65 house groups or Huwilp, who each hold a section or sections of traditional lands for the use and benefit of its house members. Each house group has a head chief or Simogyet who is head of the territory. The power and authority is placed on this chief to make decisions on his or her territories.
For administrative purposes, the territories are divided into nine watersheds; the Babine, Kispiox, Gitsegukla, Lower Skeena, Middle Skeena, Nass, Suskwa, Sustut, and the Upper Skeena which serve as the basis for economic planning and policy making.
GDC guides and supports it subsidiaries many new ventures and business initiatives throughout the Gitxsan traditional territory and beyond in cooperation with all Gitxsan members. It will pursue diverse business interests in a responsible manner with the goal of providing jobs to local people, stimulating the local economy and representing the Gitxsan Nation.
GDC is governed by a board of directors appointed by the Chiefs through its Board of Trustees. Directors are selected based on their experience in business, natural resource development, management and the ways of the Gitxsan.
The Lax Yip Society and Lipgyet Trust own and manage GDC on behalf of the Chiefs. The Lipgyet Trust holds the 100% voting rights through its appointed trustees. The Lipgyet Trust will hold and distribute dividends to individuals belonging to a houee (wilp) in accordance with Gitxsan Ayookw and the Lax Yip Society will hold and distribute dividends to the greater Gitxsan for community based projects and initiatives.