Tsilhqot’in Chief Joe Alphonse. (Black Press Media files)

Chiefs honour Indigenous leader wrongfully hanged in B.C. 154 years ago today

Chief Joe Alphonse says they want his remains returned to his homeland in B.C.’s Cariboo region

Chiefs have gathered in New Westminster, B.C., to commemorate an Indigenous leader who was wrongfully tried and hanged 154 years ago.

Chief Ahan was hanged in the city’s downtown on July 18, 1865, and a ceremony memorializing his exoneration was held at a high school today where the Tsilhqot’in Nation believes its ancestor could be buried.

Chief Joe Alphonse, tribal chair of the Tsilhqot’in National Government, says the nation had asked the province and school district to conduct DNA tests if the remains are ever found, but neither has agreed.

Alphonse says their chief was wrongfully executed and they want his remains returned to his homeland in B.C.’s Cariboo region.

VIDEO: Statue of B.C.’s ‘Hanging Judge’ removed from New Westminster courthouse

Historian Tom Swanky says Ahan was arrested in May 1865, nearly a year after five Tsilhqot’in men were hanged during the Chilcotin War, when Indigenous leaders reacted to an attempt by settlers to deliberately spread smallpox for a second time.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau officially exonerated all six warriors last year and then-British Columbia premier Christy Clark offered an official apology in 2014 for the wrongful hangings.

Swanky says Justice Matthew Begbie, whose statue was removed earlier this month from in front of the provincial courthouse in New Westminster, ordered the hanging of the other five men but was not connected with Ahan’s case.

He says all six Tsilhqot’in leaders were arrested and given brief trials before five of them were hanged in Quesnel and Ahan later met the same fate in New Westminster.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

New Oak Bay bylaw supports planting 5,000 new trees

Residents can share thoughts on new tree protection bylaw at Jan. 29 open house

New BC Ferries hybrid-electric vessels arrive in Victoria

BC Ferries plans to add four more hybrid-electric vessels to fleet

Blue Monday is a myth but seasonal affective disorder and winter blues are real

Canadian Mental Health Association says weather can affect mood

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers sees 37 per cent increase in tips in 2019

The non-profit takes anonymous tips from the public, brings information to police

VIDEO: Cold snap brings ideal conditions for Okanagan icewine

Take an inside look at how icewine is made

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Ice chunk from truck crushes vehicle windshield on Vancouver Island

None injured, but Nanaimo RCMP say there can be fines for accumulations of ice and snow

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Intense winds en route to Greater Victoria

Winter storm warning in effect for east and west regions while wind warning to hit south and north

Theft victim confronts suspects with baseball bat on Vancouver Island

RCMP in Nanaimo seek to identify of two people alleged to have used a stolen credit card

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Most Read