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

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

Jon Bonneschranz retired from the Prince Rupert Fire Rescue Department at the end of April after 22 years of service to the city. He was also one of three firefighters honoured with the department’s first life-saving award. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Heart of our City – Jon Bonneschranz, fighting fish to fighting fires

Retiring Captain Jon Bonneschranz hangs up his helmet after 22 years

Sheila McDonald coordinator at the Prince Rupert Seniors’ Centre Association said on May 6th, the new fridge purchased with $5,000 from the BC Maritime Employers Association will help sustain the Better at Home Food Assistance program. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Prince Rupert Seniors’ Centre Association chills out with $5,000 donation

BC Maritime Employers Association uses Seniors’ Centre for training purposes

A Prince Rupert man fled after being placed under arrest on April 28. The incident caused an elementary school and local residents to be warned to stay inside. (File photo)
Wanted Prince Rupert man flees after arrest – later apprehended

Local school and residents told to stay inside during pursuit of man wanted from 2019 gun incident

As the BC CDC reports on May 5 declining pandemic numbers and only one case of COVID-19 in Prince Rupert, the vehicles parked outside the local testing center also decrease. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Prince Rupert COVID-19 numbers down again

Second outbreak at Acropolis declared over

Northern Health Authority is requesting local residents to refrain from attending the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital unless necessary, as some services have been affected by a fire on May 5. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Fire at Prince Rupert Regional Hospital creates a reduction in services

Northern Health is asking residents to not attend hospital unless necessary

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Gord Judson steers his log truck down a forest service road, using two-way radio and call signals to mark his position for oncoming traffic. (B.C. Forest Safety Council)
Planning some B.C. wilderness fishing? Don’t catch a log truck

Remote recreation areas bracing for heavy pandemic pressure

Most Read