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Our Treaty, Our Inherent Right to Self-Government: An Overview of the Nisga'a Final Agreement

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image of International Journal on Minority and Group Rights

This article provides an overview of the Nisga'a Final Agreement (the Treaty), the first comprehensive claims agreement to include recognition of the inherent right of self-government and constitutional protection of this right. This right is of long history to the Nisga'a people (as evidenced by a brief review of the 1913 Petition), to the Nisga'a Final Agreement, and, ultimately, to our defence of the Treaty against the legal challenge to the self-government provisions by Gordon Campbell (then leader of the opposition in the British Columbia legislature, now Premier of BC). It is this consistent thread in respect of the importance of self-government which has defined the Nisga'a approach to treaty making with the federal and provincial governments. Moreover, the Treaty also represents a unique example of legal pluralism whereby a distinct system of law making and governance successfully and peacefully operates within and in accordance with the constitutional framework of the Canadian State.


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