Our History

Share This Page

Looking back over the years

Before Nisga’a Valley Health Authority

For decades, the Nisga’a communities in the Nass Valley had almost no health care services.

“In 1949, there were two Salvation Army officers [who] were the only ones providing the absolute minimum provisions for health. They were basically dispensers of aspirin.

If a person got seriously ill, either the person got better or the person died. It was as simple as that. A telephone call could be made and a special flight could be okayed by the Department of Indian Affairs to pick up a patient but that rarely happened, especially in the winter months, when travel was very, very difficult.”

— the late Dr. Joseph Gosnell, esteemed Nisga’a leader

1980s: NVHA Founding

“In the very early days, people gave instructions to the tribal council that if our people were going to survive in the foreseeable future, we as a nation had to take over health provisions for the Nisga’a people.”

— the late Dr. Joseph Gosnell, esteemed Nisga’a leader

On April 25, 1984, after years of preparatory discussion, the Nisga’a Tribal Council (now Nisga’a Lisims Government) passed a resolution at their convention in Gingolx calling for the creation of a Nisga’a health board. This new entity was given the task of empowering the Nisga’a Nation to deliver community health care in an effective and sustainable manner.

In 1986, the Nisga’a Valley Health Board was formally created, and on March 21, 1988, the Nisga’a Valley Health Diagnostic and Treatment Centre in Gitlaxt’aamiks (now the James Samuel Gosnell Memorial Health Centre) began operating. The was followed by the opening of satellite clinics in Gingolx, Laxgalts’ap, and Gitwinksihlkw.

2000: Treaty

With the signing of the Nisga’a Treaty on May 11, 2000, jurisdiction over the NVHA was transferred to the Nisga’a Lisims Government, as governed by the Nisga’a Lisims Government Programs and Services Delivery Act.

2010s: Designation as a Hospital and Renaming

In 2011, the Nisga’a Valley Health Diagnostic and Treatment Centre in Gitlaxt’aamiks was designated as a hospital under the BC Hospital Act by the British Columbia Ministry of Health.

In 2013, The Diagnostic and Treatment Centre was renamed the James Samuel Gosnell Memorial Health Centre in honour of this late Nisga’a leader, who among other achievements was instrumental in the founding of the NVHA.

2017: Restructuring

Changes to the B.C. Societies Act allowed NVHA to change its governance structure, becoming more closely aligned with the Nisga’a Lisims Government. The NVHA remained a Society, with board members appointed by the Nisga’a Lisims Government. This change, approved unanimously at the NVHA Annual General Meeting in November, 2017, created better collaboration and communication between the two entities.

2020: COVID Pandemic

Along with the rest of the world, the NVHA responded to the COVID pandemic, adapting healthcare delivery and putting greater focus on public health.

Test for Nancy

2022: Creating a Unifying Vision

The NVHA adopted its 2022 – 2026 Strategic Plan. This document provides a roadmap that connects day-to-day work with a unifying vision for the future of NVHA and healthcare delivery in the Nass Valley.

The Strategic Plan identifies four focal areas:

  1. Working through the Nisga’a Paradigm in all that we do
  2. Prioritizing a community-based focus
  3. Striving for excellence through consistent growth and improvement in organizational capacity
  4. Providing the best possible healthcare through strong, effective relationships.

The Nisga’a Valley Health Story, by Shirley Morven

Shirley Morven
Board Member 1998 – 2004, Chair 2000 – 2004

During her six years of service on the Nisg̱a’a Valley Health Authority board, Shirley Morven helped NVHA put its financial house in order, ensure Nisg̱a’a culture was recognized by the NVHA union, and launch preventative health programs, among other achievements…

Read full story