Nisga’a citizens living in Terrace will now receive programs and service under the new Gitlaxdax Nisga’a Terrace Society as of Nov. 1.
Programming includes culture and language programs, coat and boot allowances for children and elders, education gifts which provide school supplies for students, and recreational programs like hiking, horseback riding and kickboxing classes for youth.
These had been delivered since 2013 by the Nisga’a Lisims Government (NLG) through the Terrace Nisga’a Urban Local office on Lakelse Avenue. Over the last several months, executive representative Keith Azak and government representative Marianne Stanley-Ward have been working to establish the new society under the BC Societies Act.
“We are very happy with the new society and the opportunities it will bring us,” Azak says. “We are also truly appreciative of Nisga’a Lisims Government’s support for the transition.”
In June, Azak, Stanley-Ward and Lyle Adams became founding board directors of the Gitlaxdax society with the adoption of a constitution and bylaws. The society has also hired Ben Haizimsque Sr. as chief executive officer, who will oversee the transition of hiring additional society staff.
Becoming a society would identify the Terrace Nisga’a Urban Local as a corporate entity under provincial law, allowing it to apply for and administer funds and services to local Nisga’a residents. Between 1,100 to 1,700 Nisga’a are registered with the local as living in Terrace.
“The government has demonstrated its unanimous support for the Gitlaxdax Society through governance and transition funding for the remainder of this fiscal year,” says Eva Clayton, NLG president. “We are optimistic that the society will transition its operations soundly.”
With this new identity, the society also hopes to assist the homeless and establish low-income housing in Terrace, with the possibility of working with the city to have an Indigenous counsellor and a place to provide services and re-establish family connections for homeless Nisga’a. The society is also planning to work with the Kermode Friendship Society on social issues.
The office location at 4441 Lakelse Avenue in Terrace will remain as the main administration location where citizens can access programs and services. The Gitlaxdax Nisga’a Terrace Society joins two others in Vancouver and Prince Rupert.