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

Just Posted

Short list for new gnome home includes Parksville, Coombs

Five potential locations have been chosen by Howard’s owners who will decide Tuesday

Parksville’s mystery cowboy revealed

Kevin Gourlay’s horse garners attention for being ‘parked’ outside a liquor store

Qualicum man sentenced for tying up, robbing another man

Gabriel Stephen Nelson robbed and assaulted travelling businessman in 2017

Parksville man ‘parks’ horse during liquor store pit stop

As long as animal wasn’t jaywalking, no problem, says city official

After mosque attacks, New Zealand bans ‘military-style’ guns

The gunman killed 50 in a Christchurch mosque

Nowhere to grieve: How homeless people deal with loss during the opioid crisis

Abbotsford homeless advocate says grief has distinct challenges for those living on the streets

ICBC shifts to Alberta model, with higher rates, private insurers say

Minor injury cap, court restrictions take effect April 1 in B.C.

B.C., feds accused of ‘environmental racism’ over Site C, Mount Polley

Amnesty International Canada says governments failed to recognize threats to Indigenous peoples

New Leger polls suggests federal Liberals lagging Conservatives

Overall, 31 per cent of respondents polled said they would vote for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals

Number of homeless deaths more than doubled in B.C. as opioid crisis set in

New data shows trend between more overdose deaths and the number of people dying in the street

Four people spat on in ‘random, unprovoked’ assaults: Vancouver police

Police ask additional victims to come forward after woman in a wheelchair spat on

Indian Day School students eligible for $10K apiece

Islanders included in settlement package reached with Canada’s federal government

Most Read