CONTRIBUTION · 25th November 2011
Nisga'a Lisims Government
“It’s proof that Nisga’a Nation is open for business when we are properly consulted and accommodated in accordance with our Treaty” stated President Stevens.
An important milestone in the history of the Nisga’a Final Agreement was reached this week as British Columbia passed a resolution in the Provincial Legislature on November 23, 2011 to give its consent to agreed-upon amendments of the Nisga’a Treaty for the first time.
The President of Nisga’a Lisims Government Mitchell Stevens stated, “For the first time, Nisga’a Nation has consented to changing the language of our Treaty, something that took years to negotiate.” President Stevens, Secretary-Treasurer Edmond Wright and Executive Chair Kevin McKay, and CEO Frederic Tolmie were in attendance at the Provincial Legislature in Victoria to observe the introduction and passage of the resolution and related legislation.
The Honourable Mary Polak, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, introduced the amendment. During the debate, opposition critic for Aboriginal Relations Scott Fraser commented that the amendment was an affirmation of the UN Declaration of Indigenous rights which provides that Indigenous peoples have the right to recognition and observance of their Treaties, and access to prompt decisions and fair procedures.
Doug Donaldson, MLA Stikine, welcomed the Nisga’a officials in attendance in the Gitxsan language. Robin Austin, MLA Skeena, supported the resolution as it reflected the right of the Nisga’a Nation to make such decisions which is an important change from the past.
Nisga’a Nation agreed to the Treaty amendments to adjust the boundaries to the Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Park to enable the Northwest Transmission Line to pass through a small portion of the Park. Now that BC has provided its consent, it remains for the federal government of Canada and the Nisga’a Nation to provide their respective final consents.
“This amendment is important for two reasons” said President Stevens. “It illustrates how modern-day treaties and their amendment provisions can work to the mutual benefit of a First Nation and their Treaty partners. It was a test for BC to demonstrate its commitment to a government-to-government relationship with Nisga’a Nation.”
“Second, it’s an important step forward in bringing economic opportunity not only to our people, but to the entire northwest region of BC. This transmission line will open the region to millions of dollars in mining, hydro and other economic benefits. It’s proof that Nisga’a Nation is open for business when we are properly consulted and accommodated in accordance with our Treaty” stated President Stevens.