The Government of Canada and the Tsilhqot’in National Government have announced that, “As a symbolic gesture of reconciliation,” Canada will “offer a statement of exoneration” for the six Tsilhqot’in Chiefs martyred by the Crown in 1864/65. This is an outline of the events commonly known as the Chilcotin War.
The Central Coast Regional District has become the second B.C. government body to recognize officially that the smallpox epidemics of 1862/63 that decimated the indigenous population within its area were an instance of genocide.
Shawn Swanky’s dramatic and detailed artistic rendering of this meeting incorporates every known detail about the occasion.
In 1864, the Tsilhqot’in killed 17 settlers over artificial smallpox epidemics. Advertising a peace conference, B.C. ambushed the Tsilhqot’in delegates and hanged five.
Shawn Swanky presents dramatic new artwork from his documentary film, “The Great Darkening.”
The Premier’s exoneration statement is republished here to assist in keeping this expression of sorrow current and in making it more widely available.
Poole arrived in the Nuxalk Ancestors’ territory in the first week of June 1862. On his own various accounts of where his party bore responsibility, or from the newspapers, smallpox carriers from his party knowingly left the disease at: Nanaimo, Fort Rupert (north Vancouver Island), a Heiltsuk community on the approach to Bella Coola, “tribes in the neighbourhood” of Bentinck Arm, South Bentinck Arm, Q’umk’uts’ and Soonochlim (collectively known as Bella Coola, population estimated by Poole at 4000), Nautlieff and Chilcotin Lake.
The day began well before sunrise. Early risers could hear the prisoners’ monotone death chant drifting through the British Columbia darkness. Careful listeners could distinguish Lhatsassin’s deep voice in their common prayer.