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Canada apologises to First Nations band after 154 years

Premier Justin Trudeau delivered an apology in the Canadian Lower House of Parliament to chiefs of the Tsilhqot’in Nation for atrocities committed more than a century-and-half ago

 
By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Thursday 29 March 2018

A member of the Tsilhqot’in Nation performs a traditional ceremony on the floor of the Canadian House of Commons as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other lawmakers look on    Credit:Justin Trudeau/TwitterThe Canadian Federal government has officially apologized to representatives of a First Nations band from British Columbia for atrocities that its colonial regime committed 154 years ago.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered the apology to chiefs of the Tsilhqot’in (pronounced ‘Chilcotin’) Nation for the execution of six of its chiefs way back in 1864, in what was then, the Colony of British Columbia.

In 1864, white miners, business operators, merchants, farmers and ranchers infiltrated into the lands of the Tsilhqot’in. During a skirmish, Tsilhqot’in warriors killed 14 men building a road in the area. They further massacred 5 other settlers, triggering what is now known as the Chilcotin War.

In response, five chiefs—Telloot, Klatsassin, Tah-pitt, Piele, and Chessus—met colonial officials after receiving assurances of friendship, but were arrested, convicted and executed in the city of Quesnel shortly after the skirmish. A sixth chief, Ahan, was hanged the following year in the British Columbia city of New Westminister.

In his apology, Trudeau said: “They (the six chiefs) acted as leaders of a proud and independent nation facing the threat of another nation. We know that the exoneration and the 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 the shared journey towards reconciliation. At the same time, we would do well to acknowledge that for the Tsilhqot’in people, the events of 1864 and 1865 are not confined to history. As a people … the Tsilhqot’in have carried these events with them for more than a century-and-a-half. The actions of the government of the day have had a deep and lasting impact on the Tsilhqot’in nation and Canada. For the loss of that time and opportunity, we are truly sorry.”

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