LETTER: Nisga’a Nation not a ‘parallel state’

Nisga'a Lisims President Mitchell Stevens responds to criticism of benefits from self-government by treaty

Mitchell Stevens

Mitchell Stevens

This in response to Tom Fletcher’s column (Nisga’a proving their critics wrong, B.C. Views, Dec. 3) and a recent letter to the editor from Ron Johnson (Nisga’a parallel state poses tough questions).

First, the Nisga’a Nation is not a “parallel state.” As a result of our treaty, we are very much a part of Canada, a fact about which many Nisga’a citizens are extremely proud. In the manner set out in the Nisga’a Treaty, federal and provincial laws apply to Nisga’a Nation, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies to Nisga’a government, Nisga’a citizens pay taxes, and Nisga’a citizens continue to be entitled to all the rights and benefits of other Canadian citizens.

If anything, our treaty removed the barriers of the Indian Act that obstructed our full participation in Canadian society. We take exception to being separated in any way from Canada.

Second, Johnson’s comment that Nisga’a citizens have become a “landed gentry” is a completely inaccurate portrayal of the state of Nisga’a society. It suggests that through the recognition of our aboriginal title under the Nisga’a Treaty, Nisga’a Nation has somehow magically transformed its economic conditions to that of a 19th century aristocrat living off rents.

In fact we were not allowed to participate in the industrial revolution, and we need to catch up to the rest of Canada. As tax-paying Canadians, we at Nisga’a Nation still have to earn our daily bread, attract investment to our area and carefully plan and build for the future, just like everyone else in Canada.

This is why we support the development of the liquefied natural gas industry in B.C., are seeking to attract investment, and possibly operate an LNG facility on Nisga’a lands. As we have indicated to the government of B.C. at recent joint press conferences, our efforts at Nisga’a Nation provide LNG proponents project certainty to support the establishment of the LNG industry in B.C. generally.

Nisga’a Nation strives for sustainable prosperity and self-reliance. We appreciate how Fletcher has kept an open mind to allow his views on the Nisga’a Treaty to evolve. We are optimistic that eventually more people will understand that we want what all citizens of B.C. want – an improved quality of life.

H. Mitchell Stevens

President, Nisga’a Lisims Government

New Aiyansh

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Santa’s Forest tree sale has taken place in the Braefoot Park lacrosse box every holiday season since 1996. (Photo courtesy Torsten Schulz)
Santa’s Forest tree sale in Saanich implements one-way perusing, curbside pick up

Christmas tree, wreath sales in Braefoot Park through Dec. 24

(Black Press Media file)
Webinars help Greater Victoria residents affected by dementia prepare for the holidays

COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions can add additional challenges for people living with dementia

Masks are mandatory for passengers on board BC Transit buses and for those waiting at covered bus stops. (BC Transit/Facebook)
Masks now mandatory on BC Transit buses, at covered bus stops

Face shields no longer meet face-covering requirements per updated policy

Rose Ellis, 93, and her Shih Tzu, Zoey, have been clients of ElderDog Victoria since last summer. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Victoria ElderDog program seeking more seniors, pups to support

Service helps elderly people to care for their canine companions

Mona Strelaeff, a Metchosin resident, is the first non-terminally ill person in Canada to be allowed to use psilocybin assisted therapy. (Provided by Spencer Hawkswell)
Metchosin woman’s trauma treatment could be trendsetting

Experts say this could signal the broadening of who can access psilocybin therapy

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

Most Read