The Nisga’a Lisims Government (NLG) is temporarily halting the distribution of the one-time disbursements from its $20 million treaty loan repayment that came from the federal government last year.
In a statement released March 22, the NLG said its executive decided to pause the remainder of the payments owing to anomalies such as outdated addresses and duplication of payments.
On Dec. 4, the NLG executive announced that each registered Nisga’a citizen was entitled to $2,500. To date, 93 per cent of registered Nisg̱a’a citizens have received the payment. Seven per cent or approximately 500 Nisg̱a’a citizens are yet to receive the one-time gift.
”NLG is currently working with each Nisg̱a’a village and Nisg̱a’a urban local offices to produce reconciliation reports which will include the return of unpaid gift allocations to NLG that were not claimed or were returned to a Nisg̱a’a village or Nisg̱a’a urban local as a result of unknown addresses, or cheques simply not picked up at the time of distribution,” the First Nation government said in a statement.
NLG said it aims to to complete the reconciliation review carefully and will establish direct communication with those citizens impacted. Payments will then be administered to the remaining seven per cent of citizens who have not yet received the one-time gift, subject to any valid third party claims to payments.
“This process has proven the importance and responsibility on citizens to keep their addresses current with NLG’s Eligibility & Enrolment department’, NLG President Eva Clayton said. Change of address forms are available on NLG’s website.
In 2019 the federal government committed to reimbursing Indigenous groups — 234 so far — that have reached a comprehensive land claims settlement for their repaid negotiation loan debt.
The Nisga’a Nation repaid its debt in 2014 that was built up while negotiating the Nisga’a Treaty, and is expecting $78 million in reimbursements over five years.
According to Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, the NLG has received two reimbursement payments, with the third payment set for April 2022. There are no conditions attached to the payments.
– With files from Ben Bogstie