Chief Joe Alphonse speaks at the United Nations’ Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) in New York City Wednesday, May 1. Photo submitted

Tsilhqot’in leaders get standing ovation at United Nations forum in New York City

The opportunity allowed the chiefs to advocate for the Tsilhqot’in people on the international stage

Representatives from the Tsilhqot’in Nation took centre stage Wednesday in a rare opportunity to speak before the United Nations — and they knocked it out of the park.

“I was taken back by the responses from all the delegates that were in attendance as I (the Tsilhqot’in) got the loudest applause and a standing ovation,” TNG Tribal Chair Chief Joe Alphonse said Thursday, thrilled by the response of the crowd.

“Our case gives hope beyond what we could have ever imagined on a world stage.”

Chief Joe Alphonse of Tl’etinqox, Chief Francis Laceese of Tl’esqox, Chief Jimmy Lulua of Xeni Gwet’in and Chief Ottis Guichon of Tsi Deldel as well as cultural ambassador Peyal Laceese made a short but impactful presentation at the United Nations’ Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) in New York City.

Alphonse presented to the Permanent Forum and to hundreds of visiting Indigenous Nations, countries and UN Delegates, speaking about how the Tsilhqot’in War Chiefs of 1864 continue to guide and give strength to the Tsilhqot’in as they seek to implement their 2014 Supreme Court of Canada title victory, and to secure recognition of title and jurisdiction to their Territory.

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

Chief Francis Laceese explained their culture is most powerfully expressed through traditional values like the drum song, and invited his son Peyal to take the floor. Peyal brought the crowd to their feet with his drum song honouring the War Chiefs.

Alphonse said the chiefs attended the UN to advocate for the Tsilhqot’in people on the international stage, forge alliances and hold the governments accountable for fully implementing their title, jurisdiction and human rights.

The delegation has been in New York all week, networking with other Indigenous groups and observing the process at the forum.

Read More: Tsilhqot’in chiefs travel to New York City to speak on Indigenous struggles at United Nations


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