MLA for Skeena, Robin Austin spoke in the Legislature this week about the 10 year anniversary of the Nisga'a treaty. to see the video click here
or read the transcript below.
Simgigat, Sigidimhaanak, K'uba Wilksihlkw — these words, when translated from Nisga'a, mean chiefs, matriarchs, community members and are the usual respectful way in which the Nisga'a address people on ceremonial occasions.
Last week on May 11 these words were used many times as dignitaries from all over B.C. joined the Nisga'a nation in their capital, New Aiyansh, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Nisga'a treaty. I was privileged to witness that celebration along with the Minister of Aboriginal Relations and my colleagues from the North Coast and Powell River–Sunshine Coast.
The starring guest was the Lieutenant-Governor of B.C., His Honour Steven Point, who congratulated the Nisga'a nation for the success of the last ten years since the treaty was signed.
So much has changed in the last ten years, from the public deliberations of this, the first modern-day treaty in over a hundred years that brought settlement to over 300 years of subjugation under a colonial regime, to a time when we now have a First Nations person as the Queen's representative, the highest office in the province.
The irony was not lost on all those who were in attendance. Instead of fearing the inclusion of First Nations as equal citizens of this province, instead of thinking that self-determination for aboriginal people meant another level of government that was not constitutional, the Nisga'a treaty has demonstrated that reconciliation is possible.
We can all live together in this province and share resources and decision-making in a way that encourages inclusion and that finally permits First Nations to improve their social and economic conditions while celebrating the diversity of their cultures in the same way that all new immigrants from all over the world have done once arriving in this great province.
The new president of the Nisga'a Nation, Mitchell Stevens, did not gloss over the challenges that the Nisga'a still face. It is early days, and there is much catching up to do for the Nisga'a. But the treaty has given a sense of hope for his people and a sense of pride in being Nisga'a. When people feel pride and regain their confidence, all things are possible.
As the Nisga'a have a very young population, let us all hope that the future is bright as increased education and economic opportunities renew their communities. I ask all members of this House to join me in congratulating the many Nisga'a leaders for pursuing their dream for 113 years.