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Envisioning Reconciliation at the Intra-nation Level

Archival Voices and Sources

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Source: Letter from Indian Agent P.M. Tiernan to Superintendent of Indian Affairs J.W. Powell. Library and Archives Canada. RG 10, Reel  C-10119, Volumbe 3679, File 12 061. “New Westminster Agency- Report of the murder of an Indian boy at Sumas by whites from the United States. 1884.”

“I have the honor to enclose you by request of 124 Indians the statement they made to me at a meeting they held at ______ on Monday and Tuesday last to consider the action of some Americans who came to Sumas and taken an Indian Boy named Lewey 15 years old, and lynched him. I had great trouble for the time they were on council to restrain them from going in a body across the boundary line to Nooksack and take the first white men they met and take him to the spot where the Indian boy was hanged and treat him in the same manner, the Indians were fully prepared for a _____ at any moment they got the word from their head men. I had been very lucky to be there in time to prevent them from going. There was a delegation from every band on the Fraser River from Yale to Langley at the meeting...”


Source: University of British Columbia Archives. Box 4. File 25.   James Douglas, Report (12 Oct.1858) to Sir E.B. Lytton on his recent visit to Fraser's River. Public Record Office, ADM 1/5721. XEROX 314.


               “The policy of the late Colonial Government _______ Governor Douglas in 1858 was to treat Indians as British subjects and it had the effect in a great erasure[?] of doing away with their customary internal organization...
Should the line of succession fail or succeeding heir not have any of the qualities appertaining to a Chief the whole Tribe assembles and elects a man of their choice to assume that dignity. Chieftship is generally maintained by a system of free _________ or “Potlaches’ and the more a Chief can ________ a “potlatch” the greater his power and popularity. To accumulate food, blankets, _______ for this purpose, a chief will often not only deprive himself of the necessaries of life, but allow his family to suffer from want, practising meantime, the most rigid and miserly ___________.    
               The customs of holding the free gift festivals, is quite common among the Coast Tribes, the presents generally consist of Blankets purchased for the reason or preserved from former “potlatches” and it is expected that they will be returned by some equivalent at a future gathering. The person who gives away or _____ destroyed the greatest amount of property, acquires much praise and frequently obtains the highest tribal rank.”


Contemporary Stó:lō Voices through Recent Interviews

Chief Alice McKay (Matsqui First Nation)

“Being out at the meetings that Brenda and I have been attending and hearing “reconciliation” all time and hearing people say that the reconciliation has to start at home and I agree with that one hundred percent because not only does it have to start in Matsqui, it has to be in Stó:lõ Nation too, so we can go to those governments united because if we don’t, then we are going to be up there pushing ourselves back again. We need to get together, we need to be on the same page... For First Nations only, I think that we really need to think about our reconciliation.” [15:22 – 16:24]


“...we need to identify people to go out and start this reconciliation talk amongst the First Nation people. We need to find someone that can help us reconcile... This is about the children, it’s not about a position in an ivory tower that’s going to make a lot of money, it’s about the children and the best interest of the children... First of all I think there has to be another word... new beginnings, it’s not reconciliation... because there was never a relationship, maybe new beginnings. You know, people looking at us like we’re a government and accepting what we want to do with the land and with the fish.”

Chief Alice McKay (Matsqui First Nation)


“To me... a treaty is a way to divide the community as well. If you look at the Stó:lō, there use to be nineteen going for treaty until the separation and now there’s a group of six that are pursuing treaty. And again, I wouldn’t criticize them at all. I’m glad they’re taking that opportunity to advance their communities. But what does that do for resources like fisheries or land once they’re trying to figure out what’s within their territory, or going to be in their territories, or added on to their current reserves and what does that do for the rest of the Stó:lō communities who aren’t part of the treaty?... and who knows, maybe what they do will advance the cause for those who aren’t going into treaty, I’m not sure... maybe it will have that kind of effect but you’ll never know until you see that ratified outcome.”

Murray Ned (Sema:th First Nation) 

Naxaxalhts’i Albert “Sonny” McHalsie (Shxw'ow'hamel First Nation) 

“Educating our own people... providing the means for that so our own people understand that we had rich culture, a rich history that involved the longhouse, that involved the winter dance, involved the sxwó:yxwey, and its was that petition I think that turned our ancestors around and now we have to fight to get back into it...”

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“There has to be a way for our people to develop more sense of a pride, knowledge of our culture, how we worked, worked together in the past, the importance of ancestral names, importance of sxwó:yxwey, importance of the winter dance...”

Naxaxalhts’i Albert “Sonny” McHalsie (Shxw'ow'hamel First Nation) 


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