Tŝilhqot’in Nation Seeks Inclusion in St. Joseph’s Mission Actions

The Tŝilhqot’in National Government is calling on the Province of British Columbia, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and the Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN) to recognize the need for a direct role for Tŝilhqot’in leadership and people in the investigations at St. Joseph’s Mission. Earlier this month, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the provincial government, RCMP, and WLFN to guide future investigative work. This occurred without any notice or engagement with the Tŝilhqot’in Nation.

St. Joseph’s Mission was the main residential school for the six Tŝilhqot’in communities (as well as Nuxalk, Southern Dakelh, Northern Secwepemc, and others). Generations of Tŝilhqot’in children were taken to St. Joseph’s Mission and every Tŝilhqot’in community and family is impacted by this legacy of trauma.

Establishing a protocol that includes the potential for excavations without notice to the Tŝilhqot’in Nation, let alone direct involvement, is disrespectful and a breach of human rights. Consent of Tŝilhqot’in leadership and affected families should be a fundamental to every decision affecting the investigation of St. Joseph’s Mission.

The Tŝilhqot’in Nation is considering all options to address this issue and seeks to be included in all current and future investigative discussions.

“The decision about whether to exhume Tŝilhqot’in children lost to the horrors of St. Joseph’s Residential School is for the Tŝilhqot’in Nation and our families alone. Yet our people learned about planning for exhumations through the media. Our Nation has consistently called for a meaningful and direct decision-making role in the investigation and our calls have been ignored. This cannot and will not continue. We will do whatever we must to protect our kids, including legal action, if the status quo in the current MOU continues. Nothing will happen without Tŝilhqot’in consent on this matter.”

—Nits’ilʔin (Chief) Joe Alphonse, Chair, Tŝilhqot’in National Government


Nikki Berreth
Communications Manager

Cell  250 302 3979