Tag Archives: Warrior Chief

Tsilhqot’in First Nation To Use Blockades If Needed To Protect Ancient Burial Site

Cecil Grinder, puts purification smoke over Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chairman Tsilhqot'in Nation prior to the start of a ceremony to commemorate the 150th anniversary of six first nation chiefs being hung to death in Quesnel, B.C., on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

Cecil Grinder, puts purification smoke over Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chairman Tsilhqot’in Nation prior to the start of a ceremony to commemorate the 150th anniversary of six first nation chiefs being hung to death in Quesnel, B.C., on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

By The Canadian Press, July 18, 2016

VANCOUVER — Members of a British Columbia First Nation are remembering a warrior chief who was wrongfully hanged 151 years ago and say they won’t allow another injustice to be done to their ancestor.

The First Nation says a service was held Monday at the site of a high school in New Westminster, B.C., which was built atop a former cemetery where the remains of Tsilhqot’in war Chief Ahan may have been buried after he was executed on July 18, 1865.

Joe Alphonse, tribal chairman of the Tsilhqot’in national government, said four of six chiefs attended the ceremony and that members smudged the grounds, made a tobacco offering and drummed songs to pay tribute to Ahan.

Alphonse said there are no records to indicate that the warrior’s remains were taken to the cemetery after originally being buried at a courthouse square in the city.

However, he said the First Nation will fight to preserve Ahan’s remains even if there is “a one-per cent chance” that they’re at the school site.

Construction to replace the run-down school built in 1949 is slated to begin next year elsewhere on the same property, and the Education Ministry said an archeologist will ensure that any artifacts are appropriately recorded.

Education Minister Mike Bernier has said the school was built “in the wrong place” and that constructing a new school will fix that problem.

Alphonse wants protocols in place about the proper handling of any bones that could be found and warned the First Nation would mount blockades or file a court challenge to stop construction if necessary.

“All we’ve ever asked for from the New Westminster School Board is, in the event that you run into some bones do the honourable thing. Do a DNA sample and let us know if that’s him. They refused to do that so we’re not going to run that risk. So we’ll shut it down. We’ll use every means we can.”

The board couldn’t be reached for comment, but says on its website that it plans to use non-intrusive means, such as ground penetrating radar, to find out more about the school property before soil investigations that are scheduled for next month.

“Those activities are important for proper project planning and respecting the heritage of the site,” it says.

Premier Christy Clark apologized nearly two years ago for the hanging of Ahan and five other chiefs in Quesnel in 1864 during a bloody dispute known as the Chilcotin War.

The chiefs were hanged after 19 people were killed in a dispute over the construction of a road through Tsilhqot’in territory. The government militia couldn’t capture the chiefs, but they were lured out of hiding when they received overtures to speak with the government.

They were arrested and tried for murder. The road was never built.

Clark also signed an agreement with the Tsilhqot’in to work together on social and economic initiatives.

Last June, the First Nation, whose members live in the Cariboo-Chilcoton plateau area west of Williams Lake, won a historic Supreme Court of Canada land rights case that gave them title to 1,700 square kilometres of land in the remote Nemiah Valley. The landmark ruling meant they became the first aboriginal band in Canada to win title to their territory.

The cemetery at the school site was also the final resting place for Chinese pioneers, and members of the Chinese community in New Westminster joined First Nations groups against the construction of a new school on the same spot.


Warrior Chief Plans Roadblocks To Keep Drugs Out Of Elsipogtog

John Levi, an Elsipogtog warrior chief, plans to set up roadblocks in his community to stem the flow of drugs. (Ian Bonnell/CBC)

John Levi, an Elsipogtog warrior chief, plans to set up roadblocks in his community to stem the flow of drugs. (Ian Bonnell/CBC)

Warrior chief John Levi says ‘It’s about time we made a stand and got our community back’ from influx of drugs

CBC News Posted: Apr 28, 2016

Elsipogtog roadblocks planned to keep drugs out of community

John Levi, the warrior chief at Elsipogtog First Nation, is planning to erect roadblocks on the three routes into the Mi’kmaq community in an attempt to curtail what he says is a steady stream of street drugs entering the reserve.

“It’s been many years that we’ve had problems with drugs in our reserve,” said Levi.

“It’s not only Elsipogtog that’s having problems, it’s every community, but after so many years you know we decided we’re going to stand up and get our community back.”

Members of the community name hydromorphone, an opioid pain medication, and crystal methamphetamine, an illegal street drug, as some of the substances being brought in to the community.

‘We are First Nations and we make our own laws.’– John Levi, warrior chief

Levi says people with drug problems are stealing others’ personal property and sometimes sending their kids to bed hungry because any family income is funneled into drugs.

DJ Joseph, Elsiopogtog Nation administrator, says he’s not aware of the plan, but he sees some potential for success.

“I personally would applaud anything that helps deter some of the more negative things that kind of come up in Elsipogtog,” he said.

DJ Joseph

DJ Joseph, the Elsipogtog administrator, said he would support any move to block drugs from coming into the First Nation (CBC)

Joseph grew up in the Mi’kmaq community and is aware of the difficulties some families face.

“Addiction plays a huge part in almost every … aspect of Elsipogtog life,” said Joseph.

“Often times other things fall out of place whenever there’s an addiction in the house.”

There are a number of programs in place on the reserve, including a needle exchange, group therapy, an addiction centre, a crisis unit and family support.

But Joseph explains funding for these programs isn’t easy to come by. He says many programs are started, but without core funding the initiatives don’t always stick.

“I kind of see it as a balance that hasn’t been hit yet,” he said.

Joseph says as a band administrator, he thinks a lot of work has to be done before the plan is put into action, like making sure Levi has proper authorization, and the RCMP is informed.

Roadblocks are illegal

The RCMP won’t confirm it is aware of any plans to erect community road blocks.

Sgt. Benoit Jolette says the RCMP is always open to receiving information from the public, but is not in favour of people taking the law into their own hands, adding roadblocks are illegal.

Levi said he wants the RCMP to be involved, but ultimately he said he only needs permission from the band chief and council.

“Once we get the approval from the chief and council we aren’t breaking any laws, we are First Nations and we make our own laws,” he said.

Levi doesn’t plan to search each car passing by, but does want to keep track who is coming and going in Elsipogtog.

While the RCMP conduct check stops in the community, Levi feels this one will be more effective because no one knows the community like the people who live there.

“We know who is bringing the drugs into the reserve and we’re just going to be standing and waiting for the right people that are bringing in the drugs,” he explained.

Eight people have volunteered to help conduct check stops, and Levi says about 25 elders are on board with the plan.

The CBC spoke to a number of members of the community and none would go on record.

But many said they are in favour of the roadblocks and hope it does slow the flow of drugs entering the community.

Others expressed concern about the loss of personal rights.

Levi said he knows the move is a controversial one but he feels the potential benefits to the First Nation are worth the infringement of personal freedoms.