In this file photo, government leaders hold up copies of the Nisga’a Final Agreement which officially came into effect on May 11, 2000. From the left, B.C. Premier Ujjal Dosanjh, Nisga’a Lisims Government president, Nisga’a leader Joseph Gosnell and Robert Nault, the federal minister of Indian affairs. (File photo, The Terrace Standard)

Former Nisga’a Nation leader passes away

Joseph Gosnell was instrumental in negotiating landmark 2000 self-governing treaty

The Nisga’a leader who was at the forefront of the Nisga’a Nation’s 2000 land claims and groundbreaking self-governing treaty with the provincial and federal governments has passed away.

Dr. Joseph Gosnell passed away at his home in Gitlaxt’aamiks (New Aiyansh) in the Nass Valley after a long battle with cancer, the Nisga’a Nation reported today in a statement.

“His focus was always on what the Nisga’a, British Columbians, and Canadians can achieve together. His legacy will help shape the project of reconciliation for generations to come,” said Nisga’a Lisims Government president Eva Clayton.

Gosnell was among a core group of Nisga’a leaders who negotiated the 2000 treaty in his capacity as president of the Nisga’a Tribal Council. He was then elected as the first president of the Nisga’a Lisims Government.

Gosnell was recognized for his achievements by being named as a Companion of the Order of Canada, receiving the Order of British Columbia and four Honourary Doctorate of Laws degrees. In 2019, he was sworn in as the Chancellor of the University of Northern British Columbia.

Speaking to the provincial legislature in 1998, the year the treaty was signed leading to its implementation in 2000, Gosnell called the treaty document a triumph.

It is “a triumph because, under the treaty, we will no longer be wards of the state, no longer beggars in our own lands,” said Gosnell.

“A triumph because, under the treaty, we will collectively own about 2,000 square kilometres of land, far exceeding the postage-stamp reserves set aside for us by colonial governments. We will once again govern ourselves by our own institutions, but within the context of Canadian law.”

“It is a triumph because, under the treaty, we will be allowed to make our own mistakes, to savour our own victories, to stand on our own feet once again.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Haida hereditary chief is BC Liberal Candidate for North Coast Region

Roy Jones Jr. is named BC Liberal MLA candidate for the North Coast

$3.4 million childcare centre to be built in Lax Kw’alaams

Lax Kw’alaams funding has been approved through the provincial New Spaces Fund

COVID-19 cases grow to 13 at B.C. First Nation near Fort St. James

“This is very serious,” says Nak’azdli Whut’en Chief

Ecosocialists nominate candidate for Stikine

Edward Quinlan is the new party’s regional director for Skeena and Bulkley Valley regions

World Maritime Day – Sept. 24

Sustainable shipping for a sustainable planet

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

2 British Columbians arrested, 3 at large in massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Liberals reach deal with NDP on COVID-19 aid bill, likely averting election

NDP and the Liberals have reached an agreement on COVID-19 sick-leave

Money laundering inquiry delayed over of B.C. election: commissioner

Austin Cullen says the hearings will start again on Oct. 26

Most Read