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The Nisga'a Final Agreement
In September 1998, the Nisga'a signed a comprehensive agreement which constitutes a final settlement of the aboriginal rights of the Nisga'a nation, including aboriginal title. The comprehensive agreement process engages the Canadian Government and provincial government in a re-negotiation of the constitutional relationship between First Nations and the State. The negotiations can include anything, from land title to government issues. The Preamble to the Nisga'a Final Agreement recognises the fundamental relationship between the peoples of the Nisga'a Nation and Canada.


WHEREAS the Nisga'a Nation has lived in the Nass Area since time immemorial;

WHEREAS the Nisga'a Nation is an aboriginal people of Canada;

WHEREAS section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 recognizes and affirms the existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada, which the Courts have stated include aboriginal title;

WHEREAS the Nisga'a Nation has never entered into a treaty with Canada or British Columbia;

WHEREAS the Nisga'a Nation has sought a just and equitable settlement of the land question since the arrival of the British Crown, including the preparation of the Nisga'a Petition to His Majesty's Privy Council, dated 21 May, 1913, and the conduct of the litigation that led to the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Calder v. the Attorney-General of British Columbia in 1973, and this Agreement is intended to be the just and equitable settlement of the land question;

WHEREAS Canadian courts have stated that the reconciliation between the prior presence of aboriginal peoples and the assertion of sovereignty by the Crown is best achieved through negotiation and agreement, rather than through litigation or conflict;

WHEREAS the Parties intend that this Agreement will result in this reconciliation and establish a new relationship among them;

WHEREAS this Agreement sets out Nisga'a section 35 rights inside and outside of the area that is identified in this Agreement as Nisga'a Lands;

WHEREAS the Parties acknowledge the ongoing importance to the Nisga'a Nation of the Simgigat and Sigidimhaanak (hereditary chiefs and matriarchs) continuing to tell their Adaawak (oral histories) relating to their Ango'oskw (family hunting, fishing, and gathering territories) in accordance with the Ayuuk (Nisga'a traditional laws and practices);

WHEREAS the Parties intend their relationship to be based on a new approach to mutual recognition and sharing, and to achieve this mutual recognition and sharing by agreeing on rights, rather than by the extinguishment of rights; and

WHEREAS the Parties intend that this Agreement will provide certainty with respect to Nisga'a ownership and use of lands and resources, and the relationship of federal, provincial and Nisga'a laws, within the Nass Area;

Keywords: Canada, First Nations Canada, indigenous people, International law, Nisga'a, recognition, 1998

Author: Strelein, Lisa