Tsilhqot’in Chiefs are calling for a meaningful role in the St Joseph’s Mission Site Investigation to promote healing for Tsilhqo’tin survivors and families.
In a news release, the Tsilhqot’in Nation affirms the importance of the site investigation to bring to light the atrocities experienced by generations of children at that site and also acknowledges the special role of Williams Lake First Nation in this work as St Joseph’s Mission is situated on traditional WLFN lands.
It was the main residential school for the six Tsilhot’in communities, as well as Nuxalkk, Southern Dakelh, Northern Secwepemc, and others, and TNG Tribal Chair Joe Alphonse said it’s very important that Nations that are affected greatly by children that were taken to the Mission have a voice.
“I think it’s very important that all these First Nations have a voice. We have the unique thing in the Williams Lake area where we are very diverse in terms of First Nations cultures and distinct groups and each of these groups all have different customs and ways of doing things.”
The Tsilhqot’in Nation said they have repeatedly asked for a respectful approach to the site investigation that would see all affected Nations represented on a planning committee to guide this sensitive work in a way that respects the culture and protocols of each Nation.
Alphonse says they’ve asked for a seat at the table many times without action.
“Having the odd update meeting is not adequate. We don’t want update meetings we want to be part of the project, we want to have a say and that’s what this is about. “
The release also stated that the Tsilhqo’tin Chiefs call on the Prime Minister, Minister Miller, and Williams Lake First Nation leadership to commit to establishing a planning committee for the St Joseph’s site investigation that includes Tsilhqo’tin Chiefs along with leadership from all affected First Nations.