NOTE: A letter from the Nisga’a Lisims Government is attached at the end of this article.
THE NISGA’A Lisims Government and Nisga’a living in Terrace are headed to court over the control of money meant for services to Nisga’a citizens in this area.
The Terrace Nisga’a Society, created to be an urban component of the Lisims government which is headquartered in the Nisga’a homeland of the Nass Valley, split off from the Nisga’a Lisims Government this year following several years of differences over financing and operations.
But what the society did not do, says the Nisga’a government, is return monies to it after the split occurred in the summer. It’s this money the Nisga’a government is now asking for via a BC Supreme Court injunction application.
“We are obligated to seek an injunction from the court to protect these funds,” stated Nisga’a president Mitchell Stevens.
Although local Nisga’a, who have now set up their own office in Terrace, haven’t been filing financial information with the Lisims government since the end of March, Stevens said information it filed for the 12 months before that, indicated it spent just over $113,000 on legal fees.
“The Nisga’a Nation is trying to get these funds back, so we can actually use the funds to continue providing programs and services through the Nisga’a Lisims Government-Terrace office. This injunction is the first step,” said Stevens of money in the Terrace Nisga’a Society accounts.
Lisims officials didn’t immediately indicate how much money is sent annually to the Terrace Nisga’a Society operating as the Lisims urban component but financial statements for the year ending March 31, 2012 state approximately $888,000 was provided by the Lisims government.
Those same statements to the end of March 2012 also show the Terrace Nisga’a Society had $368,933 in its accounts.
“The Nisga’a Nation is only aware of the amounts held as of March 31, 2013, and has been left to speculate on what is left based on previous year’s spending,” a statement from the Lisims government said.
The Terrace Nisga’a Society says the allegations are unproven. It’s also “shocked and disappointed” over the allegations of misuse of monies and failure to provide programs, it said in a release.
It’s also promised to “protect the rights of Nisga’a citizens in the Terrace Urban Local Area in court and will continue to stand up to [the Lisims government] until it is no longer able.”
The following is a response from the Nisga’a Lisims Government received Nov. 26, 2013
We are writing to correct several serious errors which appeared in your article ‘Nisga’a budget battle headed to the courts’ published on your website on November 24, 2013. We would request these errors be immediately corrected.
Your article incorrectly indicates that Nisga’a Lisims Government (“NLG”) and “Nisga’a living in Terrace” are headed to court. This is a mischaracterization of the legal action being taken. NLG is not taking any action against Nisga’a citizens residing in Terrace nor against any Nisga’a citizen. Rather, NLG is seeking to prohibit the Terrace Nisga’a Society (“TNS”) from dissipating funds provided to TNS by NLG.
These funds were provided to TNS for the provision of programs and services benefitting Nisga’a citizens in Terrace. TNS instead used a portion of these funds for, among other things, litigation against the Nisga’a Nation. Accordingly, NLG determined it would directly provide programs and services to the<span style="font-family: Arial, serif