NISGA’A Nation President H. Mitchell Stevens and the Nisga’a Nation commemorated the 100th anniversary of the nation’s groundbreaking 1913 Petition May 21.
“May 21, 1913 was the date that the Nisga’a Land Committee formally lodged the petition to His Majesty’s Privy Council in London, England in which they asserted their aboriginal rights and ownership of our traditional territory,” explained Stevens.
While the 1913 Petition achieved little for the Nisga’a Nation with colonial governments in 1913, said Stevens, he termed it evidence of the Nisga’a assertion to have exclusively possessed, occupied and used and exercised sovereignty over territory included in the Nisga’a Final Agreement of 2000.
“Our leaders (of the day) were astute enough to know that over time there would be evolution,” said Stevens of years of negotiations which resulted in the final agreement.
Milestones such as the 1913 Petition are important for Nisga’a youth and citizens to learn about, the president added.
“Those historical milestones are what give us our mandate. It’s important that we understand our history,” said Stevens.
Nisga’a efforts to have their territory recognized eventually resulted in the 1973 Supreme Court of Canada Calder case which paved the way for negotiations leading to the 2000 final agreement.