Toosey First Nation drummers close off a celebration held Wednesday at Farwell Canyon marking the first anniversary of the Tsilhqot'in Decision.

Tsilhqot’in celebrate rights and title anniversary

Against the backdrop of Farwell Canyon, First Nations gathered Wednesday to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Tsilhqot'in Decision.

Against the backdrop of Farwell Canyon and the Chilcotin River, First Nations  gathered Wednesday to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court of Canada decision to declare full Aboriginal title to approximately 1,900 kilometres of land to the Tsilhqot’in.

Organizers of the event chose Farwell Canyon because when the decision came down on the morning of June 26, 2014 many people who were participating in the annual Xeni Gwet’in Wagon Ride to the Williams Lake Stampede were camped at that spot.

Xeni Gwet’in Chief Roger William said the youth who were on the wagon trip last year and again this year will remember witnessing the reaction of the elders and adults when they realized they’d won.

“There are a lot of our youth here and they will remember this,” William said. “We First Nations know what Aboriginal Rights and Title are but it’s the government that need to recognize it.”

Chief Joe Alphonse described the day as one of renewed hope.

“The decision has given us an opportunity to push the reset button and fix our relationships with the provincial and federal governments,” Alphonse said.

He described the last year as a whirlwind because it put the Tsilhqot’in on the map.

“First Nations across Canada opened their doors to us,” he said. “Indigenous people in Belize were even celebrating for us.”

Yunesit’in Chief Russell Myers Ross recalled the excitement and shock from all parties when the Supreme Court decision was announced.

“Even though a year has passed, there are still outstanding issues,” Myers Ross said. “Xeni Gwet’in got title but there is still the rest of the Tsilhqot’in territory that needs to be reconciled. We as people need to express our history and explain where we want to go.”

B.C.’s Aboriginal Relations Minister John Rustad said he was excited to be at a time in history when First Nations and the government are exploring what peace can look like.

“I know there’s been conflict for a long period of time,” Rustad said. “It culminated in this court case. The province fought against the Tsilhqot’in, but you won it. The province recognizes the win and celebrates it.”

Rustad said the government has heard concerns from First Nations about education, children and families, wildlife management, fish habitat and the justice system.

“These are the types of things we are negotiating,” Rustad said. “We as a non-Aboriginal people came in and took away that management.”

He said he is hopeful negotiations can be done in three to five years and not take generations.

“It is fragile and won’t be easy because there is 150-years plus of history.”

?Esdilagh Chief Bernie Mack said the challenge for the Tsilhqot’in is to let the decision become the game changer everyone else says it is.

“I see a day down the future where we as Tsilhqo’tin will be owning and running a big company,” Mack said.

As the celebration came to a close William said many Tsilhqot’in people are strong and thriving,  know the language, go out onto the land, have university degrees and jobs, but there are those who are struggling.

“There’s alcohol, drugs and gangs, but it’s within us to get the resources to be able to deal with what is affecting us,” he added.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

No active confirmed COVID-19 cases in Interior Health: BCCDC

Numbers from the BCCDC’s dashboard show 193 of the 195 COVID-19 cases in the region have recovered

Williams Lake approves temporary liquor establishment area expansions due to COVID-19

Liquor Control and Regulation Branch issues application process for interested businesses

Williams Lake council seeks public feedback on First Nations shovel-ready cannabis facility

Williams Lake Indian Band’s farm-to-gate store will be built on First Nations land within city limits

Cariboo ranchers, lodge operators say Indigenous land title shuts them out

Tsilhqot’in jurisdiction affects grazing, access to private property

Flood watches issued for Quesnel, Horsefly Rivers

Flows rising in response to snowmelt and rainfall, continued rises expected

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping the Williams Lake Tribune continue its mission to provide trusted local news

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

Federal aid for care home systems needed ahead of second wave, advocates say

Ontario Long Term Care Association calling for more action

B.C. woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Horgan calls for national anti-racism program; will pitch idea to PM, premiers

Premier John Horgan said he’s horrified by the death of George Floyd in the United States

Chilliwack dad rescues two young daughters after truck plunges into lake

“I used every single one of my angels that day,” said Dennis Saulnier

VIDEO: Internal investigation into aggressive arrest by Kelowna Mountie

A video allegedly shows a Kelowna Mountie striking a man several times

Most Read