Tŝilhqot’in Nation Deliver Historic Statement to the United Nations

Chief Joe Alphonse of Tl’etinqox, Chief Francis Laceese of Tl’esqox, Chief Jimmy Lulua of XeniGwet’in, and Chief Otis Guichon of TsiDeldel attended the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) in New York City to represent the Tŝilhqot’in Nation while Chief Russell Myers Ross of Yunesit’in and Chief Roy Stump of ?Esdilagh remained back home to look after the interests of their communities and the Nation.

The Tŝilhqot’in Chiefs in New York City for the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). Left to Right: Chief Francis Laceese of Tl’esqox, Chief Jimmy Lulua of Xeni Gwet’in, Chief Otis Guichon of Tsi Deldel, and Chief Joe Alphonse of Tl’etinqox. Photo: Tŝilhqot’in National Government.

On May 2, 2019, at the Permanent Forum, the chiefs and cultural ambassador of the Tŝilhqot’in Nation were invited to take the floor of the United Nations. Chief Joe Alphonse, tribal chair of the Tŝilhqot’in National Government, presented to the Permanent Forum and hundreds of visiting Indigenous Nations, countries, and UN delegates. “We are Tŝilhqot’in. We will stand together, we will fight together, and we will never settle for anything less than full recognition of our rights, our title, our jurisdiction, and our authority in our homeland,” said Chief Alphonse. He further shared how the Tŝilhqot’in War Chiefs of 1864 continue to guide and give strength to the Tŝilhqot’in as they seek to implement their 2014 Supreme Court of Canada title victory, and to secure recognition of title and jurisdiction to their territory.

Cultural Drum Song performed by Peyal Laceese, Cultural Ambassador for the Tŝilhqot’in National Government, receives standing ovation at the United Nations’ Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). Photo: Tŝilhqot’in National Government

Chief Francis Laceese of Tl’esqox explained that Tŝilhqot’in culture is most powerfully expressed through traditional values like the drum song, and invited Peyal Laceese, a Tŝilhqot’in youth and cultural ambassador, to take the floor. Peyal shared with the UN the same drum song that rang through the Parliament of Canada in March 2018, when Prime Minister Trudeau delivered a statement of exoneration to the Tŝilhqot’in War Chiefs of 1864, bringing those assembled on the floor of the UN to their feet.

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