B.C.’s lieutenant governor Jane Austin (centre) attended the Tl’etinqox Culture Camp Wednesday, Aug. 17 at the invitation of Chief Joe Alphonse. (Photo submitted)

B.C.’s lieutenant governor Jane Austin (centre) attended the Tl’etinqox Culture Camp Wednesday, Aug. 17 at the invitation of Chief Joe Alphonse. (Photo submitted)

B.C. lieutenant governor visits Tŝilhqot’in territory, celebrates birthday

‘It was an honour to have her here,’ said Chief Joe Alphonse

B.C.’s lieutenant governor Jane Austin’s visit to Tsilhqot’in territory on Aug. 17 was three years in the making, said Chief Joe Alphonse.

“We’d invited her when we met with her three years ago and she wanted to come but then COVID hit and the visit was put on hold.”

While in the region, Austin participated at the Tl’etinqox Culture Camp doing a nature walk with elder Emily Dick and other members of the community, enjoying a horse and wagon ride, and participating in the closing ceremonies.

“It was an honour to have her here,” Alphonse said. “She wanted to acknowledge the Tŝilhqot’in rights and title case.”

Austin noted in a government news release that reconciliation is an important theme as part of her mandate as lieutenant governor.

“I was deeply honoured to receive an invitation to visit Tŝilhqot’in Lands. I was greatly inspired by the thoughtful and informative conversations had with Tŝilhqot’in chiefs and councillors. It is with humble gratitude that I was able to spend time with the remarkable elders, youth and leaders of this community.”

As the following day was her birthday, Alphonse and his wife Chastity Davis-Alphonse organized a special dinner held at their home in 150 Mile House.

The dinner, prepared by Long Table Grocery from Quesnel, included fresh spring salmon caught by Yunesit’in Chief Lennon Solomon at Farwell Canyon and locally grown foods.

Local musicians Clayton Charleyboy from Tsideldel First Nation, Shannon O’Donavan from Beaver Valley and the Cariboo Chilcotin Youth Fiddlers performed.

“We even hired a company to decorate one side of our yard,” Alphonse said. “It was a chance to really showcase what the Cariboo Chilcotin has to offer. The lieutenant governor said it was the most anyone had ever done for her birthday and it was done right here in the Cariboo.”

The significance of the visit speaks to the effort to build relationships and honour the rights of Indigenous people as it was the first visit by a representative of the Crown since the declaration of Aboriginal title, Alphonse said.

“We want to be recognized and be meaningful partners in policy development and laws, especially around resource extraction. We are in a much better place than we were 100 years ago.”



monica.lamb-yorski@wltribune.com

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