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

VICTORIA — The Nisga'a First Nation in northwestern British Columbia says it has reached a historic out-of-court settlement with the provincial government to resolve disputes that had come up in their 24-year-old treaty.

The Nisga'a Lisims government says in a news release that it has solved three key issues after starting the resolution process in 2019.

The nation was the first to reach a modern-day treaty in the province in 2000, and it includes a process for resolving differences between the Nisga'a and provincial governments.

The nation says the newly signed agreement includes hunting limits to grizzly bear, moose, and mountain goats for Nisga'a citizens, and it "confirms" how the province will consult with the nation as it enters talks with other groups that claim Aboriginal rights within the Nisga'a Treaty areas.

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

The agreement was signed by Indigenous Relations Minister Murray Rankin and Nisga'a president Eva Clayton, who says she's pleased the treaty has "stood the test of time" and provided a road map for the two governments to work together.

“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,” she says in the release.

Rankin says the agreement provides clarity to both governments on various aspects of the treaty, including how the government should approach neighbouring First Nations when it may affect the Nisga'a 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,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2024.

The Canadian Press