Nisga’a not invited to transportation symposium

Nisga'a president Mitchell Stevens says the exclusion doesn't make sense

  • Dec. 2, 2015 5:00 p.m.

Nisga'a Lisims Government president Mitchell Stevens says arbitrary radius of 75 km for who was invited to symposium doesn't make sense.

The president of the Nisga’a Lisims Government says he’s “dismayed” it wasn’t invited to the Nov. 24 regional symposium held in Smithers to discuss regional transportation.

In a release today, Mitchell Stevens said a limit on those invited based on distance from Hwy16 didn’t make sense.

“We feel it’s irresponsible to develop an action plan to resolve transportation issues in the north based on discussions from which we were completely excluded,” he said.

Nearly 90 northwestern B.C. and First Nations leaders and others gathered in Smithers to discuss transportation issues.

Provincial transportation minister Todd Stone has promised to release a plan very soon.

Below is the full text of the statement released by Stevens.

“Neither the Nisga’a Nation, nor the Nisga’a Valley Health Authority (NVHA) received a formal invitation to attend the Northern Transportation Forum held in Smithers on November 24. We were dismayed to learn that the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) and the Province of BC would hold such a forum without a formal invitation to us.

“The 75km radius appears to us to be an arbitrary criterion for an invitation to discuss transportation needs. It also seems illogical to have a policy with outcomes that suggest that if you are lucky enough to live within this radius, you have needs, but if you live farther away, you have absolutely none. Our needs are even greater.

“Families in our Nisga’a communities have been tragically affected by the Highway of Tears, and our people also face significant transportation barriers to needed services. The Nisga’a Villages and the NHVA, using their own resources and charging fees, have made some efforts to address this issue. The NVHA provides a medical travel program which provides financial assistance to individuals who are required to travel for medical needs otherwise not offered in the communities.

“Resources for a local transit service with expanded usage of services and increased frequency would greatly assist our people in the communities with their need for safe travel options. We feel it’s irresponsible to develop an action plan to resolve transportation issues in the north based on discussions from which we were completely excluded. We will be sending letters demanding that the FNHA and BC contact us and remedy this serious mistake.”

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