– On Friday November 26, 1999, Joseph Gosnell, Chief of Nisga’a will address the Kiwanis Club of Ottawa. Chief Gosnell will speak on The Nisga’a Final Agreement Act which is currently being debated in the House of Commons and will provide an update on the proposed legislation. The luncheon meeting takes place in the Adam Room of the Chateau Laurier and commences at 12:30 p.m.
Chief Nisga’a was born in the Nisga’a village of New Aiyansh, British Columbia. As a young man he worked as a commercial fisher before entering tribal politics. He served in a variety of positions on the local band council and later became active in the Native Brotherhood of British Columbia. A former member of the Northern Native Fishing Corporation, Chief Gosnell also served on the Pacific Salmon Commission.
Active in Nisga’a Tribal Council politics for more than a quarter century, Chief Gosnell was elected President in 1992, twice winning re-election. He was lead negotiator for the landmark Nisga’a Treaty, which was initiated on August 1, 1998, in New Aiyansh. The agreement was the first in modern day British Columbia history and made news around the world. It is expected to be ratified by the Canadian Parliament later this year.
For his role in negotiating the landmark treaty, Chief Gosnell received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws Degree from Royal Roads University in Victoria on October 17, 1997; the Humanitarian Award from the Canadian Labour Congress on May 6, 1999; an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the Opening Learning Agency on May 7, 1999, and the Order of British Columbia, the province’s highest honour, on May 12, 1999.
Chief Gosnell traveled to Europe and the United Kingdom in November 1998, for a successful speaking tour. To overflow crowds, he described the Nisga’a Treaty as a triumph for Canada and a beacon of hope for aboriginal people throughout the world. On his return to Canada, Chief Gosnell entered the British Columbia Legislature on December 2, 1998, and made a historic speech that initiated formal ratification debate on the Nisga’a Treaty.
National Post columnist Vaughn Palmer, who witnessed the event from the press gallery, acclaimed the speech: “The doors of the Legislative chamber were thrown back and Chief Gosnell himself stood at the bat of the house and delivered a speech that was surely one of the finest ever delivered anywhere in this country.”
Chief Gosnell lives in New Aiyansh with his family and is a member of the Gidaxt’aamiks Ceremonial Dancers.
For information call Hassa Mirchandani at 238.6300