Three Against the Wilderness

Learning from the natives

When Eric Collier met his wife-to-be, he also encountered her 97-year-old grandmother, a native Indian whom he calls Lala in the book. He says it was she who inspired them to ‘give Meldrum Creek back to the beavers’, with her stories of a time (before the white man came) when the area was rich with wildlife, sustained by the water retained by beaver dams.

Veasy Collier’s great-grandmother (whom he knows as Chesahatna or Nancy Swanson) was a member of the Chilcotin (Tsilhqot’in) nation, who gave their name to a large area of British Columbia.

First Nations chiefs, 1867 (Engraving) Photo: Archives Canada

Veasy Collier talked about his great-grandmother and tells a story of her part in a history which is still raw today – the Chilcotin War and the hanging of five chiefs in 1864.
[Click on the ‘play’ arrow to hear the interview clip below.]

The Tsilhqot’in First Nation commemorate the execution of the five chiefs on Lhats’as?in Memorial Day (October 26). This war song was recorded at the event held at Riske Creek in 2006.

In March 2018, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologised and spoke of his ‘great regret’ for the hanging of the Tsilhqot’in chiefs. “We honour and recognise six Tsilhqot’in chiefs – men who were treated and tried as criminals in an era where both the colonial government and the legal process did not respect the inherent rights of the Tsilhqot’in people,” he said.

One Response

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  1. lifeaschad said, on November 5, 2013 at 5:25 am

    Nancy Swanson is my Great Great Grandmother too 🙂 Im trying to do some deeper digging. You know her Birthday, or death? Thank you for this information.

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