Trudeau exonerates hanged war chiefs of 1864 on B.C. Tsilhqot’in title lands

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and TNG Chief Joe Alphonse ride to the meeting place Friday at Xeni Gwet’in where Trudeau exonerated six hanged war chiefs of 1864 before Tsilhqot’in members. Angie Mindus photos

About two hundred Tsilhqot’ins gathered in the Nemiah Valley Friday to witness Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau personally apology and exonerate six of the Nation’s war chiefs who were hanged in 1864.

It was a picturesque scene at about 1 p.m. when Trudeau and Chief Joe Alphonse, TNG chairman, galloped into the grassy area flanked by snow-capped mountains to start the historic meeting.

Following speeches by the current Tsilhqot’in chiefs, Trudeau took to the microphone, stating he recognized that the war chiefs were only protecting their nation which was under threat by another at the time when they were lured to a meeting in Quesnel by colonial officials for peace talks and were instead arrested, tried and hanged.

“Those were mistakes that our government profoundly regrets and is determined to set right,” Trudeau said.

“The treatment of the Tsilhqot’in chiefs represents a betrayal of trust, an injustice that you have carried for more than 150 years.”

The chiefs that perished on Oct. 26, 1864 near Quesnel were Head War Chief Lhats’as?in (Lhas-awss-een); Chief Biyil (pe-yal); Chief Tellot (tay-lot); Chief Tahpitt (ta-peet); Chief Chayses (chay-sus); and Chief Ahan (a-han) who was hanged in New Westminister in 1865.

Those who took part in the day Friday said they felt happy about the exoneration from Canada, but also sad that their war chiefs had to give their lives to protect their lands. He said they hoped now they rest in peace.

Chief Joe Alphonse said the meeting on traditional lands was an enjoyable, relaxing experience for him compared to going to Ottawa in March to the House of Commons where Trudeau first formally exonerated the war chiefs.

Read More: Prime Minister Trudeau formally exonerates Tsilhqot’in war chiefs

He said he was very pleased that the Prime Minister accepted the invitation to come to the title lands so that the TNG members could hear for themselves the exoneration.

Xeni Gwet’in Chief Jimmy Lulua thanked Trudeau for coming to title lands and said he was proud of his Tsilhqot’in people.

“I’m so excited to keep moving forward and it’s an honour and I thank Justin Trudeau for being the first prime minister to come to title lands and to set history right.”

Chief Russell Myers Ross said he hoped the apology would allow for meaningful government-to-government work moving forward.

After the formal apology and exoneration, the Nation presented Trudeau with a special gift — a replica of the buckskin jacket given to his father which was made at that time by Tsilhqot’in member Julie Gilpin. Julie was on hand to present the new jacket, made by her daughter Denise Gilpin, to Trudeau.

“It fits perfect,” Trudeau said, smiling and noting all his dad’s jackets were small for him.

Trudeau then made his way into the crowd to greet as many people as he could before making the long journey back to Williams Lake by vehicle, the same way he came in, and flying out of the airport there.

Payel Laceese, a grandson to Julie and son to Denise, said he hoped the meeting would bring healing.

“Our people can let that go without there being that grudge,” he said, adding he felt there was a special connection with Trudeau, due to the history with the jacket.

“It’s not just a nation-to-nation relationship, it’s family-to-family.”

Former Xeni Gwet’in chief Annie Williams also thought the meeting was exceptional.

“It’s hard to believe he was here,” she said as the convoy pulled away. “It felt like he was one of us.”


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
editor@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Baby raccoon euthanized after having rat trap stuck to its paw for a week

Wild ARC encourages humane options, practices for pest control

Sunny skies ahead for Thursday

Plus a look ahead at the weekend’s forecast

VicPD volunteers check more than 16,000 vehicles in effort to stop thefts

Police report increase in theft from vehicle reports in last six months

Langford residents ask city to invest in park on controversial development parcel

Final public hearing scheduled at Langford City Hall on Monday, Nov. 25

Saanich mayor urges premier to tweak road speeds in an ‘epidemic of road crash fatalities’

Haynes cites ICBC and provincial documents in letter to John Horgan

B.C. politicians view supermodel’s transition journey on Transgender Day

Liberal MLA Jane Thornthwaite and New Democrat MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert appear in the documentary

POLL: Do you plan on making any purchases on Black Friday?

We’ve all seen the images. Shoppers rioting outside of a store in… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

John Mann, singer and songwriter of group Spirit of the West dead at 57

Mann died peacefully in Vancouver on Wednesday from early onset Alzheimer’s

Teacher tells B.C. Supreme Court that student was ‘happy’ to watch smudging ceremony in classroom

Case being heard in Nanaimo over indigenous cultural practice in Port Alberni classroom

VIDEO: B.C. high school’s turf closed indefinitely as plastic blades pollute waterway

Greater Victoria resident stumbles on plastic contamination from Oak Bay High

Four arrested after report of shots fired in Nanaimo

RCMP arrest four suspects in high-risk takedown in Cedar

South Cariboo Driver hits four cows due to fog

The RCMP’s investigation is ongoing

B.C. won’t appeal decision protecting ICBC court experts

Change to evidence rules next to save money, David Eby says

Most Read