An information plaque now stands at a site along the Fraser River in Quesnel, believed to be the location where five Tsilhqot’in chiefs were hanged on Oct. 26, 1864. Melanie Law photo

Tsilhqot’in Nations to commemorate hanged chiefs with memorial in Quesnel

Six current Tsilhqot’in chiefs will honour those wrongfully hanged in 1864

A memorial for six fallen First Nations chiefs will be held this Friday, Oct. 26, at a site along the Fraser River near G.R. Baker Memorial Hospital in Quesnel.

Lhats’as?in Memorial Day honours the six Tsilhqot’in chiefs who were hanged by the colonial government in 1864 and 1865, at a location just north of Quesnel’s hospital. Five of the chiefs were hanged on Oct. 26, 1864, with the sixth executed in New Westminster the following year.

The memorial will be especially meaningful this year, as the hanged chiefs – Chief Lhats’as?in; Chief Biyil; Chief Tellot; Chief Tahpitt; Chief Chayses; and Chief Ahanwere – were exonerated of any wrongdoing by the Prime Minister of Canada in March.

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 led 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.

In March, Prime Minister Trudeau apologized to the Tsilhqot’in Nation.

“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 in the House of Commons.

“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.

“They acted as the leaders of a proud and independent nation facing the threat of another nation.”

The Memorial Day event will take place Friday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., beginning with a ceremony at the hanging site.

Lunch will follow at the Quesnel Tillicum Society Native Friendship Centre in West Quesnel, and Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) leadership will give speeches from 1-3 p.m.

?Esdilagh (Alexandria) chief Roy Stump said the morning ceremony will include drumming and a few words from the chiefs.

All six current Tsilhqot’in chiefs will be at the ceremony, including Tl’etinqox (Anaham) Chief Joe Alphonse, Yunesit’in (Stone) Chief Russell Myers Ross, Tl’esqox (Toosey) Chief Francis Laceese, ?Esdilagh Chief Stump, Tsi Del Del (Redstone) Chief Otis Guichon and Xeni Gwet’in (Nemiah) Chief Jimmy Lulua.

Stump said Lhtako Dené Chief Clifford Lebrun will also be in attendance, to welcome the group to his band’s traditional territory.

“Every year we celebrate in different locations. Sometimes we have it out in Tsilhqot’in title lands, and this year the chiefs decided to have it at the actual place,” explained Stump.

Of the exoneration of the warrior chiefs, Stump said: “It’s not going to bring the chiefs back, but it’s a step in the right direction. We are on the right track, we are moving forward. The government recognizes they made a mistake. That much we are happy about.”

He said he expects a good crowd of people from each of the six nations to attend Friday’s ceremony.

With files from Monica Lamb-Yorski.

READ MORE: Prime Minister Trudeau formally exonerates Tsilhqot’in war chiefs



editor@quesnelobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Belleau-Wells nets first goal in first WSHL junior ‘A’ game

Jimi Belleau-Wells is lacing up his skates this season in the Western States Junior ‘A’ Hockey League

Rural Dividend Program $25 million reallocation and cancellation impacts 330 applications: MLA Barnett

Williams Lake Indian Band and Mountain Bike Consortium disappointed in program’s halt

Former NHL goaltender Clint Malarchuk to share inspiring story in lakecity Oct. 23

“Now imagine doing that job while suffering high anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder.”

Advance polls ‘very busy’ over the weekend in Williams Lake, says Federal election official

Residents still have all day Tuesday to cast their ballot in advanced polls in Williams Lake

VIDEO: #MeToo leader launches new hashtag to mobilize U.S. voters

Tarana Burke hopes to prompt moderators to ask about sexual violence at next debate

Potent power play paces Canucks to 5-1 win over Detroit

Miller nets a pair as Vancouver wins third straight

UPDATE: British couple vacationing in Vancouver detained in U.S. after crossing border

CBP claims individuals were denied travel authorization, crossing was deliberate

After losing two baby boys, B.C. parents hope to cut through the taboo of infant death

Oct. 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in B.C.

Cheating husband sues mistress for gifted ring after wife learns about affair

The husband gave his mistress $1,000 to buy herself a ring in December 2017

B.C. massage therapist reprimanded, fined for exposing patients’ breasts

Registered massage therapist admits professional misconduct

B.C. boosts legal aid funding in new payment contract

‘Duty counsel’ service restored in some communities, David Eby says

Rugby Canada helps recovery efforts in Japan after typhoon cancels final match

Canadian players wanted to “give back in whatever small way they could”

Alberta to join B.C.’s class-action lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, distributors

B.C. government claims opioids were falsely marketed as less addictive than other pain meds

Most Read