The ongoing legacy of the unconstitutional seizure of British Columbia from its indigenous peoples can be found everywhere around us today. Today I visited the Musqueam camp at the Marpole Midden on SW Marine Drive near the Arthur Laing Bridge in Vancouver. Indigenous people have occupied this strategic site at the mouth of the Fraser River for at least 4000 years. It has been long recognized as a Canadian Heritage site containing a priceless cultural record along with some undisturbed intact burials of the Musqueam people.
At about 9:00pm on July 4, 1862, Francis Poole and eight men from what had begun as a party of 40 straggled into Ft. Alexandria in the geographic center of colonial British Columbia. Poole would say in his memoir that his party had been in hourly dread of attack by “hostile savages,” that one of his party had been killed by the Tsilhqot’in and that his party left a “sorrowful trail of blood.”
On June 10, after visiting Dr. Clerjon at the Ft. Rupert H.B.C. post on Vancouver Island, a party led by Francis Poole would begin introducing smallpox at Bella Coola and then along the route of the proposed Bentinck Arm road through Tsilhqot’in territory to the Fraser River. Within 30 days an eye-witness estimated 75% of the Nuxalk at Bella Coola were dead or dying from the disease. Over 75 percent of all the Tsilhqot’in people would be dead before year end, a sign of systematic introduction.
Shawn Swanky joins Twitter and “Ambition Takes Wing” is accepted into the 2012 Dawson City International Short Film Festival.