May 11 marks the 20th anniversary of the Nisga’a Treaty

May, 11, 2020 — New Aiyansh, BC —
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
BC Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation
Nisga’a Lisims Government

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 —benefitting the Nisg̱a’a, as well as their fellow British Columbians and Canadians. An example of hope, trust, and cooperation, 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 mega-watt 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.

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