New Westminster, BC – Today, July 18, 2019, the City of New Westminster hosted the Tŝilhqot’in Nation who held a ceremony commemorating the wrongful trial and hanging of Chief ʔAhan. On this same day in 1865, Chief ʔAhan was the last of six Tŝilhqot’in War Chiefs to be hung during the Chilcotin War of 1864/65. The ceremony began in prayer at the old court house on 668 Carnarvon Street, located where Chief ʔAhan was executed. From there, those gathered visited the current court house on 651 Carnarvon Street and performed a smudging ceremony. Lastly, the gathering moved to New Westminster Secondary School where it is believed Chief ʔAhan could be buried. Guests received a tour around the school and library, followed by speeches and lunch.
The ceremony was held with the purpose to reflect on the Tŝilhqot’in history and honour the memory of Chief ʔAhan. The Tŝilhqot’in Nation appreciate the City of New Westminster hosting the ceremony in the spirit of working towards reconciliation.
Nits’ilʔin (Chief) Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chairman of the Tŝilhqot’in National Government:
“The Tŝilhqot’in are gathered here, on the 154th anniversary of Chief ʔAhan’s trial and hanging to honour his life and his legacy. The sacrifice of our six War Chiefs is something we as Tŝilhqot’in remember and carry with us in all that we do. Our War Chiefs are heroes to our people and Canada and BC have both acknowledged this and exonerated all six of them. We see support once again from Western Canada’s oldest city, the City of New Westminster, by its decision to remove the Judge Matthew Begbie Statue at the Court House and to graciously host this memorial in respect for and to honour our War Chief.”
Mayor Jonathan X. Coté, Mayor of New Westminster:
“The work with the Tŝilhqot’in Nation is an important component of the reconciliation work the City of New Westminster is currently undertaking. Hosting this commemoration is a significant step forward, and we hope to continue to develop this relationship and work to establish a formal sister city relationship between our two communities.”
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City of New Westminster