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Nisga'a Final Agreement
|Date:||1 January 1999|
|Sub Category:||Comprehensive Land Claims Agreement (Canada) | Final Agreement (Canada)|
|Location:||Nass River Valley, British Columbia, Canada|
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|Subject Matter:||Land Settlement | Compensation | Forestry | Self Government|
|The Nisga'a Final Agreement, initialled on August 4, 1999 concludes negotiations for Nisga'a land claims dating back to the late 1800s. This first-ever land claims agreement in British Columbia was signed by the Nisga'a Tribal Council, Government of Canada and Government of British Columbia. The Final Agreement provides certainty with respect to ownership and use of land, access to resources, governance and fiscal responsibilities. The Nisga'a Final Agreement took effect on May 11, 2000.|
The Nisga'a Final Agreement is a full and final settlement of Nisga'a Aboriginal rights. By signing the agreement, the Nisga'a surrendered any other Aboriginal rights not set out in the treaty.
History of Negotiations
The first Nisga'a land claim can be traced to 1887. Since that time, the Nisga'a have continued to lobby governments in Canada and abroad to resolve their land claim. In 1968, the Nisga'a began litigation to determine the question. Their case was appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, which unanimously decided in 1973 that existence of Aboriginal rights to land was possible. (See Calder v Attorney General of British Columbia). The court remained split on whether Nisga'a still held title to land.
Following the case, formal negotiations between the Nisga'a Tribal Council and the Canadian Government began in 1976. In 1990, they were joined by the British Columbian government. A framework agreement between the three parties was signed the following year.
An Agreement-In-Principle was signed on 22 March, 1996. For the next two years, negotiations to draft a Final Agreement took place. By August 4, 1998 the Final Agreement was complete. It was subsequently ratified by the Nisga'a, the Government of British Columbia and the Government of Canada. Provisions of the Final Agreement took effect on May 11, 2000.
As negotiations for Nisga'a land predate the British Columbia Treaty Commission, they have been conducted outside this process.
The Nisga'a Nation will hold land in fee simple under the Final Agreement. All lands owned by the Nisga'a will no longer be considered 'reserve lands'. Land will be managed by the Lisims Land Registry, which controls Nisga'a's own land title system. Land already owned in fee simple, and lands subject to leases or licences are not included in the transfer. The Nisga'a will own all subsurface resources on Nisga'a Lands.
The Final Agreement provides for the transfer of 1992 square kilometres of land to the Nisga'a, comprising Crown Land and previous Reserve land.
Nisga'a Nation has the power to make laws for their people. A Constitution will be adopted to set out the power of Nisga'a's governments.
Nisga'a government will consist of four local Village Governments and the Nisga'a Lisims Government (NLG). The NLG is to have an executive and legislative branch, as well as a Council of Elders. The Nisga'a Final Agreement and Nisga'a Law will determine membership of the Council.
The Final Agreement allows the Nisga'a Nation to harvest fish in the Nass Area and hunt wildlife in the Nass Wildlife Area. Laws regarding Nisga'a rights to fish and wildlife will be governed by the Nisga'a Nation. Nisga'a are to be involved in management committees for the wider area, providing advice and recommendations to federal and provincial governments. In addition, Nisga'a will be allocated rights to salmon according to a harvest agreement and will be encouraged to participate in the commercial fishing industry. The Nisga'a will receive an annual allocation for moose, grizzly bear and mountain goat and will liaise with the Minister of Environment, Lands and Parks regarding management.
The Nisga'a will own all forests on Nisga'a lands. Under the Nisga'a Final Agreement, management of forests will be passed to the Nisga'a Lisims Government over a five-year transition period.
The Final Agreement provides a cash settlement of (CDN) $190 million to be paid over 15 years through capital transfers.
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