John Rustad, Nisga’a Lisims sign monumental agreements.

Bulkley-Necahko MLA took part in an agreement signing with Nisga'a Lisims government last week in New Aiyansh.

Nisga’a chiefs and members of the negotiating team in Ottawa

Jesse Cole

Caledonia Courier

The MLA for Bulkley-Nechako, John Rustad, was part of a monumental and long awaited agreement signing between the government of British Columbia and the Nisga’a  First Nation.

Rustad, who serves as the Minister of  Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, signed the agreement at a conference in New Aiyansh last week.

Rustad was joined by the Minister of the Environment Mary Polak and Mitchell Stevens, president of the Nisga’a Lisims government, as well as other Nisga’a Lisims government legislature.

A number of agreements were signed at the conference including the Nisga’a Real Property Tax Coordiation Agreement (RPTCA) and the Kitsault Mine Economic and Community Development Agreement (ECDA).

The RPTCA guarantees the Nisga’a Lisims government the right to collect property taxes from people living on Nisga’a Lands regardless of whether or not they are Nisga’a citizens. Furthermore, the RPTCA extends those property rights to affect industrial projects such as pipelines that are built on or pass through Nisga’a territory.

The ECDA supports the continuation and advancement of the Kitsault Mine, located near Prince Rupert and gives a share of the provincial mineral tax revenues from the mine. Estimates suggest the total sum will be around $43 million in revenues over the next 16 years. The ECDA agreement marks the 15 ECDA agreement signed by the provincial government and the first signed between British Columbia and the Nisga’a Nation.

The agreements were designed to help the implementation of the Nisga’a Treaty, the first modern treaty agreement in British Columbia, which came into effect in 2000.

Modern treaties help by giving increased rights and title to First Nations group and remove some of the constraints of the Canadian Indian Act giving First Nations communities more tools for self-governance.

Of the agreement signing Rustad said “this was a very significant day and I’m very honoured to have been a part of it.” Adding that agreements like the ECDA “helps First Nations communities engage with the economy and reap the benefits of expansion and developments on their traditional territories.”

Rustad added that the sharing of mining and clean energy revenue is good news for both the Nisga’a communities and for the people of British Columbia.  h

Nisga’a Lisims president Stevens said “these agreements affirm the ongoing government-to-government relationship between Nisga’a Nation and British Columbia necessary for the effective implementation of the Nisga’a Final Agreement [the Nisga’a Treaty] .” He added “the benefits of these agreements will make significant contributions towards our vision to achieve sustainable prosperity and improve the quality of life for our Nisga’a citizens.”