Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces the opening of the repaired railway in Churchill, Manitoba Thursday, November 1, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Trudeau to apologize for 1864 hanging of Tsilhqot’in chiefs

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to apologize to Tsilhqot’in community members for 1864 hanging of chiefs

The Prime Minister’s Office says Justin Trudeau will apologize directly to members of the Tsilhqot’in community today for the hangings of six chiefs during the so-called Chilcotin War more than 150 years ago.

Trudeau is also scheduled to meet with leaders of the tribal council and community members at Chilko Lake in British Columbia’s central Interior for a smudging and brushing off ceremony, gifts, traditional feast and bear dance.

The visit follows a “statement of exoneration” that Trudeau made in the House of Commons in March, during which he apologized for the hangings before Tsilhqot’in leaders who gathered in the parliamentary chamber and said he would accept an invitation to do so again in their territory.

The incident stems from a deadly confrontation with a white road-building crew that had entered Tsilhqot’in territory without permission in 1864.

After the workers were killed, five chiefs attended what they were led to believe would be peace talks at the invitation of government representatives, but instead they were arrested, tried and hanged, and a sixth chief was executed the following year.

The Tsilhqot’in have long disputed the government’s authority to execute the six chiefs as criminals, describing the confrontation as an altercation between warring nations.

Related: Justin Trudeau to visit B.C., exonerate First Nations war chiefs who were hanged

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

The Canadian Press

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