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

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


Just Posted

Cannings takes anti-South Okanagan park bill to Parliament

Petition may not hold sway, with all national and provincial parties supporting a park in some form

Volunteers spearhead income tax program

There’s still time to get your taxes done!

BM&TS show ‘a tale as old as time’

The theatre group produced Beauty and the Beast.

Needles killer frightened many in our town: BC author

Roy Bugera disrupted life in a quiet Vancouver Island village before moving to Arrow Lakes

Vancouver Aquarium’s resident octopus released into ocean

Staff let the Giant Pacific octopus go into the waters near Bowen Island so she can reproduce

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

B.C. umpire has developed thick skin after 30 years listening to insults

Scott McLaren pays no mind to comments from the cheap seats

Musicians Sarah Harmer, Grimes join B.C. anti-pipeline protests

Musicians are in Vancouver for the Juno Awards on Sunday night

Canadian cities hold March for our Lives events in wake of Florida shooting

Hundreds of people support the massive March for Our Lives event in Washington, D.C.

Health officials called after acid spill near B.C.-Alberta border leaks into creek

Tanker truck crashed south of Dawson Creek, spilling 17,000 litres of hydrochloric acid

Embattled band Hedley plays last show in B.C. before hiatus

About 3,000 tickets had sold for final performance at Kelowna’s Prospera Place

Trudeau to exonerate B.C. First Nations chiefs hanged in 1860s

Prime Minister to absolve Tsilhqot’in chiefs in relation to deaths of 14 construction workers

Canucks sing the Blues as they fall to St. Louis 4-1

Berglund nets two, including the game-winner, to lift St. Louis over Vancouver

Most Read