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

Prosecution in Colin John murder trial wrapping up in Duncan

John on trial for stabbing death in Chemainus in 2016

15 new Indigenous teacher training seats added at Cowichan VIU campus

Thorne said the new Indigenous teacher education curriculum that is planned at VIU

Breakfast with Santa a Ladysmith staple

Nearly 700 people took part in this annual charity event

Christmas comes alive in Crofton

Parade entries light up the night and rain holds off

Upset student causes safety plan to be enacted at Chemainus Elementary School

Child’s behaviour results in students being held in classrooms until order restored

VIDEO: Close encounter with a whale near Canada-U.S border

Ron Gillies had his camera ready when a whale appeared Dec. 7

B.C. Lions hire DeVone Claybrooks as head coach

Former Stampeders DC succeeds CFL legend Wally Buono

France shooting: 2 dead, several wounded in Strasbourg

A world-famous Christmas market was put on lock down on Tuesday

Canadian warship witnesses possible violations of North Korea sanctions

Crew members on HMCS Calgary took photos and collected other information

Christine Sinclair named Canadian Women’s player of the year again

This is the 14th time Sinclair has been named player of the year

B.C. man wants trapping laws changed after dog killed

Louis Seguin’s 10-month-old Australian shepherd died in a body-gripping trap last month

Nearly 8,000 homeless in B.C., first province-wide count reveals

Twenty-four seperate counts in B.C. cities found there are thousands of homeless in all corners of province

Mental health issue suspected after spike belts end Island Highway car chase

Woman in her 30s detained after Tuesday afternoon incident in Lantzville

Most Read