Tŝilhqot'in leaders support New West council's decision to remove Matthew Begbie statue from courthouse

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      Matthew Begbie was an influential figure in the early days of the mainland region that became Colony of British Columbia in 1858.

      He was appointed first chief justice and later became chief justice of the entire province, including Vancouver Island, when it joined Confederation in 1871.

      But Begbie has also come under scathing criticism for ordering the hanging of six Tŝilhqot'in chiefs in the 1860s—an act for which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has apologized.

      The chiefs were also exonerated of any criminal wrongdoing by the provincial and federal governments.

      This week, a majority of New Westminster council members voted in favour of removing Begbie's statue from outside the city's B.C. Supreme Court building.

      And today, this decision was endorsed by the Tŝilhqot'in National government.

      "From the Tŝilhqot'in perspective, Judge Begbie represents a legacy of betrayal, pain, and tragedy for our people," Chief Joe Alphonse said in a statement. "Removing Judge Begbie's statue from public places does not remove him from history, but rather recognizes our history and our experience as Indigenous people.

      "We are grateful for the leadership shown by the New Westminster city council and for the understanding and compassion for our people that this decision reflects."

      Begbie's name remains on a street in New Westminster and an elementary school in Vancouver. And colonial administrators who took land from First Nations people, such as B.C.'s first lieutenant-governor, Joseph Trutch, also continue to be honoured with their names on streets and other public property.