150+ Canadians Day 99: Nisga’a Nation

Nisga’a Nation contributed to peace by creating a blue print for land settlements and First Nation self-governance in Canada. #Canada150

In the early 1980’s, the Nisga’a Nation, through w?ahlin Sim’oogit Hleek, the late James Gosnell, participated in constitutional talks hosted by the federal government.  In response to a question posed by then Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, “What does Aboriginal Title mean?” James memorably replied that the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada own the land “Lock, Stock and Barrel”.

To comprehend where the Nisga’a Nation stands today and their long-standing aspirations in respect of sustainable prosperity, the publication of the document Lock, Stock and Barrel: Nisga’a Ownership Statement  is required reading.  It provides a comprehensive insight into the Nisga’a Nation’s present position, dating back to first contact and through the generations from the 1913 Land Committee to its re-birth through the Nisga’a Tribal Council in the 1950’s, and in their position in the Calder Case.

The Nisga’a Nation had always sought a just and equitable resolution to the land question through negotiation of a treaty that would recognize their ownership and interests in the land, and their right of self-government over their lands and themselves.

On May 11, 2000, this was accomplished when the Nisga’a Final Agreement took effect. Nisga’a Nation owns 2,000 square km of Nisga’a Lands, and has constitutionally protected interests in 26,000 square km of land in the Nass Area.  Under this treaty, the Nisga’a Nation has clearly defined rights of law-making authority in several areas, including citizenship, fisheries, hunting, forests, language, culture, and education. This right of self-government is constitutionally protected under this Treaty as was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2013. 

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