Nisga’a Treaty disputes settled between B.C. and First Nation governments

The Nisga’a First Nation says it has reached a historic out-of-court settlement with the provincial government to resolve disputes that came up in their 24-year-old treaty.

In a news release, the Nisga’a Lisims Government (NLG) says it has solved three key issues with the province after starting its resolution process in 2019.

First, the treaty confirms how the province will respectfully engage, consult with, and accommodate the Nisga’a Nation, “should the province enter into reconciliation or accommodation measures” with groups within the treaty areas by providing a clear process.

Second, the agreement clarifies how environmental assessment and protection will apply to projects that may affect Nisga’a treaty rights.

“Specifically, the agreement confirms how all projects will be assessed under the Nisga’a Treaty, as orginally intended, and a protocol that will be jointly developed by the parties,” it said in the release.

Finally, it includes hunting limits to grizzly bear, moose, and mountain goats for Nisga’a citizens, in order to “ensure that there was a sustainable and conservative harvest of these important species within Nisga’a traditional territory” and to ensure Nisga’a citizens received a “set portion” of the harvest.

“Our commitment to Nisga’a citizens is to always ensure their rights under the Treaty are upheld to the highest levels and that the Treaty continues to serve our Nation,” said Eva Clayton, President, NLG.

“We are pleased that the Treaty, a ground-breaking and forwarding-thinking document, endures the test of time as a guide to how we and our treaty partners work together.”

The province also commented positively on the treaty.

“As treaty partners, the province and the Nisga’a Nation are working together to evolve our relationship so we can help support strong, healthy communities,” said Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Murray Rankin. “This agreement provides greater clarity to both governments on how certain chapters in the Nisga’a Treaty will be interpreted.”

The province says they are committed to fulfilling the treaty and continuing to strengthen their treaty relationship with the Nisga’a Nation.

The nation was the first to reach a modern-day treaty in the province in 2000, and it includes a process for resolving differences with the B.C. governments. May 11 will mark the 24th anniversary of the treaty.

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