Members of the Tsilqhot’in Nation gathered at Tl’etinqox Thursday for an official send-off of a leadership delegation travelling to Ottawa to hear Prime Minister Justin Trudeau exonerate the Tsilqhot’in warn chiefs that were hanged in 1864 and 1865. Gene Cooper photo

Trudeau to exonerate B.C. First Nations chiefs hanged in 1860s

Prime Minister to absolve Tsilhqot’in chiefs in relation to deaths of 14 construction workers

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to stand up in Parliament on Monday and announce that Canada is exonerating the six Tsilhqot’in war chiefs that were hanged in 1864 and 1865.

“A Tsilhqot’in delegation will be journeying to Ottawa to witness Canada acknowledge that our war chiefs did no wrong and were heroes protecting their land during the Chilcotin War of 1864 and 65,” said Tsilhqot’in National Government chair Chief Joe Alphonse.

According to a news release issued by the TNG, 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.

“Under the threat of smallpox and further loss of people and land, the Tsilhqot’in declared war,” the release noted. “At dawn on April 30, 1864, the group of Tsilhqot’in warriors, led by Lhats’as?in, attacked and killed most of the men making up the camp of the road crew. The Tsilhqot’in party suffered no casualties.”

On July 20, 1864, unable to persuade any Tsilhqot’in to betray the war party and out of rations, the Governor made plans to withdraw in defeat.

That afternoon, a Tsilhqot’in diplomatic party came to his camp.

This, finally, was the first ever meeting between Tsilhqot’in and Colonial representatives.

Later, Lhats’as?in and seven others came unarmed for a discussion of peace on August 15, 1864, and the Governor was not there. At the meeting, the chiefs were instead arrested, and later hanged.

The sixth, Ahan, was hanged July 18, 1865.

READ MORE: Tsilhqot’in mark 153-year anniversary of 1864 hanging

Speaking to his community during a recent justice forum, Alphonse said it’s a unique time for First Nations in Canada’s history.

As Tsilhqot’in, they won Aboriginal title and have been working with the province of British Columbia through ongoing talks, but the relationship with the federal government needs further work, he said.

In September 2014, then Premier Christy Clark visited Xeni Gwet’in First Nation title land and signed a letter of understanding with the Tsilhqot’in chiefs that committed the province to working in partnership with the Tsilhqot’in to implement the Supreme Court of Canada rights and title decision.

Clark followed up her commitment in October 2014 by making a formal apology in the legislature to the Tsilhqot’in Nation for the hanging of the chiefs.

After that, Alphonse said he told the federal government the Tsilhqot’in would not work with them until the war chiefs were exonerated by them as well.

“We finally got a commitment. It’s been 154 years in the making.”

The second phase will be to have Trudeau come to title lands to exonerate the war chiefs in front of all the Tsilhqot’in people, Alphonse added.

There will be a live stream on Monday of his announcement in Parliament at 12:30 p.m.

With files from the Tsilhqot’in National Government

Last weekend Alphonse and other leaders travelled to the war chiefs’ burial site near Quesnel and filmed a video about it.

Just Posted

Greater Victoria enjoys sunny first day of spring

Summer-like temperatures of 21 degrees hit Wednesday for first day of spring

Saanich forwards student-targeted development to public hearing

Proposed development advertises itself to individuals who want a car-free lifestyle

Development replacing Fairfield United Church gets final approval

The new Unity Commons Development will take over the space at 1303 Fairfield Rd.

Victoria police search for missing man, his vehicle and travel trailer

Last seen on March 17 driving white Honda Ridgeline bearing B.C. licence plate CG 4316

Bitter Saturna land-use dispute highlights legal grey areas

Unhappy Tsawout accuse leadership of cultural destruction

VIDEO: Can you believe it? This B.C. hill pulls cars backwards up a slope

Sir Isaac Newton had clearly never been to this Vernon anomaly when he discovered gravity

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of March 19

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

POLL: When do you think the next major earthquake will hit Vancouver Island?

According to seismologists, Vancouver Island is overdue for a magnitude 7 earthquake.… Continue reading

European, Canadian regulators to do own review of Boeing jet

Air Canada plans to remove the Boeing 737 Max from its schedule at least through July 1

Prime minister defends Liberal budget measures as sales effort gets underway

Conservatives under Andrew Scheer say it’s a spree funded by borrowing against the future

Mayor meets with B.C. health minister on homeless taxi transfers

Two homeless people were discharged from Surrey Memorial and sent to a Chilliwack shelter

B.C. lottery winner being sued by co-workers

They claim he owes them $200,000 each, in a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver

Teacher reprimanded for conduct towards special needs student

Alan Stephen Berry told vice principal he did not have time to use positive strategies

Volunteer green team joins forces to restore local habitats

Partnerships with schools educate and facilitate remediations

Most Read