The City of Terrace and Nisga’a Lisims Government held their first Community to Community (C2C) Forum last month.
On Jan. 8, 25 people gathered in the Terrace Sportsplex banquet room for a full day to learn from one another and to share concerns.
“Our community is their community. We shop together, we eat together, we drive on the same streets, we use the same airport, the same hospital so we’re really kind of joined at the hip,” says City of Terrace mayor Carol Leclerc.
The C2C event was arranged with support from a grant from the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM), which has been encouraging communities across the province for nearly two decades to host these forums to help First Nations connect with local governments in the area.
For the City of Terrace and the Nisga’a Lisims Government, this event was a chance for elected officials to open up lines of communication and understand what each community currently faces. The forum primarily focused on economic development and social issues, which was detailed through presentations and roundtable discussions.
“I think this just helps build the relationship by sitting together, having dinner and sharing bread at a small table — we spoke about a couple of issues, got to know each other better and talked about things that are happening in both areas,” says Leclerc. “It’s understanding what’s happening in each other’s backyards.”
As the Nisga’a Nation strives to build up their tourism brand and other industries in the Nass Valley, Leclerc says this is a great opportunity to see how the City of Terrace can offer support.
For Nisga’a Lisims Government’s president Eva Clayton, this was an important step towards reconciliation and alleviating complex social issues in both communities.
“This helps us move forward and it helps our economy… we shared information about who we are, what we are, where we are, and how we’re going to get there,” Clayton says.
“We are aware that we have Nisga’a citizens living in Terrace… we have also indicated that we have some Nisga’a people living on the streets that are homelessness [and want to help].”
This community forum was the first of its kind for Terrace and the Nisga’a Nation as it took a lot of planning to make it happen for both governments, says Leclerc.
She says now that they have had the chance to get to know each other personally, they would like to have more events like this to strengthen their relationships. Leclerc adds they would like to also hold this with other First Nations in the area, including Kitsumkalum and Kitselas.