Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is exonerating six First Nations chiefs who were executed by British Columbia’s colonial government more than 150 years ago.
Trudeau is on his feet in the House of Commons to deliver a “statement of exoneration” for the Tsilhqot’in chiefs, who were hanged following a deadly confrontation with white road builders during the so-called “Chilcotin War of 1864.”
After the workers were killed, five chiefs arrived at what they believed would be peace talks with government representatives.
Instead, they were arrested, tried and hanged, and a sixth chief was executed the following year in New Westminster.
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.
The B.C. government apologized for the executions in 1993 and installed a commemorative plaque at the site of the hangings.
Following the exoneration, Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett was to hold a press conference alongside the Tsilhqot’in Nation leadership, members of whom were on the floor of the legislative chamber for Trudeau’s statement.