May 11 marks 20th anniversary of Nisga’a Treaty

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The Nisg̱a’a Final Agreement, British Columbia’s first modern treaty, came into effect 20 years ago today.

The governments of Canada, British Columbia and the Nisg̱a’a Nation commemorate this major milestone on the path of reconciliation.

For the Nisg̱a’a people, May 11, 2000, marked the end of a 113-year journey and the first steps toward a brighter future. The Nisg̱a’a Final Agreement is the first treaty in British Columbia to provide constitutional certainty in respect of an Indigenous people’s Section 35 right to self-government. The Treaty recognizes Nisga’a Lands (2,000 square kilometres), secures Nisg̱a’a hunting and fishing rights in the Nass Wildlife Area and Nass Area respectively, and has opened the door for joint economic initiatives in the responsible, sustainable development of the Nisg̱a’a Nation’s natural resources — benefiting the Nisg̱a’a, as well as their fellow British Columbians and Canadians. An example of hope, trust and co-operation, the Nisg̱a’a Final Agreement is being studied by governments and Indigenous peoples the world over.

Today, the Nisg̱a’a Nation includes more than 7,600 people residing primarily in the Nisga’a villages of Gingolx, Laxgalts’ap, Gitwinksihlkw and Gitlaxt’aamiks (formerly New Aiyansh) on British Columbia’s northwest coast, as well as in Terrace, Prince Rupert/Port Edward and throughout the Lower Mainland.

With the land question settled and their rights secure, the Nisg̱a’a have been busy building their government and institutions, as well as facilitating development, including BC Hydro’s 335-kilometre, 287-kilovolt Northwest Transmission Line; the Long Lake Hydroelectric Project, a 31-megawatt power generation facility; and the Brucejack Mine, an underground gold and silver mine operated by Pretium Resources Inc. Each of these projects has generated employment, business opportunities and revenue.

While the 20th anniversary gathering has been postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis, the governments of Canada, British Columbia and the Nisg̱a’a Nation — partners in the Treaty — seek to remind the world of what can be achieved together.

Quotes:

Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations –

“The 20th anniversary of the implementation of the Nisg̱a’a Treaty is a major milestone in our shared history. Although a great deal has changed in the world around us, the Nisg̱a’a vision for creating a better future for their people has not. The Treaty is a living and breathing example of reconciliation in action and what we can accomplish when we work together and recognize and respect Indigenous people’s right to self-determination.”

John Horgan, Premier of British Columbia –

“Twenty years is a significant milestone. An entire generation of Nisg̱a’a young people have grown up as members of a self-governing treaty nation. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic means we can’t be together to recognize this special day for the Nisga’a community and the Province, but in honour of Nisg̱a’a Day and the government-to-government relationship we’ve built together over two decades, the Nisga’a flag is flying in the Hall of Honour at the B.C. Parliament Buildings. I thank the Nisg̱a’a Lisims Government for its leadership and congratulate all Nisga’a people on this anniversary.”

Scott Fraser, B.C.’s Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation –

“Two decades ago, the Nisg̱a’a people charted a new path on their journey of self-governance. At the same time, B.C. and Nisg̱a’a reset our relationship to focus on reconciliation, supporting an even-better life for Nisga’a communities and people. I congratulate the Nisg̱a’a leadership on the social, cultural and economic successes of the past 20 years, and look forward to the good work we will do together in the future.”

Eva Clayton, President, Nisg̱a’a Lisims Government –

“On this special milestone day, may we remember the generations of Nisg̱a’a men and women who worked tirelessly over 113 years for the just and honourable settlement we achieved on May 11, 2000. May we continue to work steadfastly for the prosperity and improved quality of life of Nisg̱a’a for generations yet to come.”