Tsilhqo’tin Nation Chiefs Russell Myers Ross (from left), Roy Stump, Tribal Chair Joe Alphonse, Otis Guichon Sr., Francis Laceese and Jimmy Lulua on the steps of the Parliament in Ottawa Monday. Loretta Williams photo

Prime Minister Trudeau formally exonerates Tsilhqot’in war chiefs

Under sunny skies six Tsilhqot’in chiefs anticipate an historical move on the part of the federal government

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau officially exonerated six Tsilhqot’in chiefs in the House of Commons today, in a historic apology to the Tsilhqot’in Nation.

“As much as it is in our power to do so we must right the wrongs of the past and so, as an importance symbol of our reconciliation, we confirm, without reservation that Chief Lhats’as?in; Chief Biyil; Chief Tellot; Chief Tahpitt; Chief Chayses; and Chief Ahan are fully exonerated of any crime or wrongdoing,” said Trudeau, in a statement to the house and the delegation of Tsilhqot’in chiefs and leaders present.

“We recognize that these six chiefs were leaders of a nation; that they acted in accordance with their laws and traditions; and that they are well regarded as heroes of their people.”

The six chiefs defended the Tsilhqot’in territory in 1884 when a road crew, sent by the colonial government, entered the territory without permission of the Tsilhqot’in leadership.

Under threat of smallpox, and further loss of land, the Tsilhqot’in chiefs declared war, and lead a war party, attacking and killing most of the men making up the camp of the road crew.

Following an offer to discuss terms of peace from the colonial leaders, the Tsilhqot’in chiefs accepted an invitation to meet, and there were betrayed, arrested, convicted and later hanged.

“We know the exoneration and apology we are making today on behalf of Canada cannot by itself repair the damage that has been done, but it is my sincere hope that these words will allow for greater healing as Canada and the Tsilhqot’in Nation continue on a shared journey towards reconciliation,” said Trudeau.

“Today our government acknowledges what the colonial government of the day was unwilling to accept: that these six chiefs were leaders and warriors of the Tsilhqot’in Nation and the Tsilhqot’in people that they lead maintain rights to land that had never been ceded,” said Trudeau.

“They acted as the leaders of a proud and independent nation facing the threat of another nation.”

Trudeau also announced that he is looking forward to visiting the declared title lands of the Tsilhqot’in Nation this summer, to deliver the statement of exoneration directly to the Tsilqot’in people “who have fought so long and so hard to have the commitment and sacrifice of their war chiefs recognized.”

Trudeau’s apology resulted in a standing ovation on the part of all members of parliament present.

Following the apology, and subsequent comments from members, Tsilhqot’in youth Peyal Laceese performed a drum song in full regalia.

As he entered the room, the six Tsilhqot’in chiefs stood and one by one reversed their black mourning vests into bright red ones.

Each vest had an insignia of a horse on the back.

When Peyal finished he walked to the Prime Minister. He presented Trudeau with his drum and hugged him. After, he hugged the chiefs and then they proceeded out.

Peyal is the son of Chief Francis Laceese from Tl’esqox.

Back in October 2017, Canada’s Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett issued a statement noting as Canada moves to build a new future, reconciliation requires addressing Canada’s history and developing with Indigenous people a more through accounting of the past.

“Canada recognizes and acknowledges this shared history and, as a symbolic gesture of reconciliation will be moving forward to offer a statement of exoneration for the six chiefs,” Bennett said. “These six chiefs were leaders of a nation and are well-regarded as heroes by their people.”

Early Monday Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs said Trudeau’s words will be “impactful, a rightful recognition of serious wrongdoing,” but to build trust his words must be followed by actions of integrity.

“The UBCIC looks forward to a day when justice for all Indigenous peoples is a reality, not just lofty promises,” Phillip said. “We honour the Tsilhqot’in for pursuing the exoneration of their chiefs and acknowledge their persistence and unwavering commitment to justice.”

Read More: Trudeau to formally exonerate Tsilhqot’in war chiefs hanged 1864/65



news@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

Campbell River woman wins $100,000 weight-loss challenge by losing 140 pounds

A Campbell River woman’s loss of 140 pounds has earned her $100,000… Continue reading

Too much put on shoulders of RCMP suggests MLA

Reformed Police Act could look at spreading responsibility to other responders

U-pick berry fundraiser this Friday for Olympic hopeful Mackenzie Padington

Woody’s Wallow Farm to donate $2/lb to high performance swimmer

Old-growth forest defenders in Campbell River call for B.C. forest minister’s resignation

Protestors outside North Island MLA’s office ask government to stop old-growth logging

Campbell River storm sign new defenceman

Coaches have had eye on player for years

578 British Columbians currently infected with COVID-19

Seventy-eight new cases confirmed in past 24 hours

Captive fawn seized from Island home

Valley resident charged and fined under the Wildlife Act

Pandemic could be driving more parents to get on board with flu shot: study

University of B.C. study gauges willingness for parents to vaccinate children for influenza

Watchdog clears Okanagan RCMP in death of man after arrest over alleged stolen pizzas

The man died in hospital after having difficulty breathing and broken ribs

Have you seen Berleen? B.C. pig destined for sanctuary goes missing

Berleen was less than two weeks from travelling to Manitoba when she vanished

Health Canada says several kids hospitalized after eating edible pot products

People warned not to store cannabis products where children can find them

‘It’s not just about me’: McKenna cites need to protect politicians from threats

Police investigation was launched after someone yelled obscenities at a member of McKenna’s staff

Michigan plans dedicated road lanes for autonomous vehicles

First study of its kind in the U.S. to figure out whether existing lanes or shoulders could be used

Most Read