Jul 11/98: Nisga'a treaty close to being signed

NISGA'A TREATY CLOSE TO BEING SIGNED

Negotiators are optimistic that the historic deal is imminent, although it will still be far from being law

Vancouver Sun
July 11, 1998
Jim Beatty - Sun Legislature Bureau

[S.I.S.I.S. note: The following mainstream news article may contain biased or distorted information and may be missing pertinent facts and/or context. It is provided for reference only.]

VICTORIA -- Details establishing B.C.'s first modern-day land claims treaty could be in place within a week as government and Nisga'a negotiators work through the weekend finalizing the agreement. "We haven't popped any champagne corks yet but we might start chilling it pretty soon," said John Watson, the regional director of Indian affairs. "It's very close...I guess after 15 years you run out of issues to clarify."

Although several key issues are still outstanding, negotiators representing the Nisga'a and federal and provincial governments remain optimistic a deal is imminent.

Negotiators are meeting in Terrace and sources say they still must hammer out details surrounding roads, forestry, heritage and "certainty," a term used to ensure the treaty [word garbled] all future claims once the deal is signed. But if negotiators wrap up talks as expected, a land claims treaty is still a long way from being law.

The deal must first be considered by a formal advisory committee representing third-party interests such as business, labour, municipal governments and environmental groups. While key officials may initial the historic deal -- possibly even Premier Glen Clark and Prime Minister Jean Chretien -- it must then be approved by the three parties.

The Nisga'a people will likely take two or three months to ratify the agreement. It must then be approved by the B.C. and federal governments.

B.C. Aboriginal Affairs Minister Dale Lovick said it is unlikely the proposed treaty will be added to the current legislative session, which will probably drag on through the summer. "We want the citizens of this province to know what the issues are," Lovick said Friday. "That means [there will be] an elaborate information campaign."

Lovick said a fall sitting of the legislature, an unusual occurrence in B.C., is a "plausible scenario" to deal with the Nisga'a issue.


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