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Tsilhqot’in National Government chair looks back on 2023, ahead to new year

Nits’ilʔin (Chief) Joe Alphonse is the chair of the TNG
Tsilhqot-in Chiefs Otis Guichon Sr., Francis Laceese, Joe Alphonse, Troy Baptiste, and Roger William, all wore red in honour of missing and murdered Indigenous women on May 5 at an event hosted by the Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) in Boitanio Park. (Tsilhqot’in National Government photo)

By Nits’ilʔin (Chief) Joe Alphonse

Tribal Chair, Tŝilhqot’in National Government

This year was a big year for the Tŝilhqot’in National Government (TNG). We continue to grow as an organization, attracting new working professionals to the Williams Lake area and increasing employment for our people.

TNG has been building a strong foundation to move forward with initiatives to improve the lives of the Tŝilhqot’in people and surrounding area. We are drafting legislation to reclaim jurisdiction for Tŝilhqot’in children and family, while also building up the infrastructure in our communities to support this project.

Our fisheries team continues to lead conservation decisions through real-time data received from the waterways. 2023 marks the first year that Chinook eggs reached the alevin stage in our interim conservation hatchery at Hanceville. In the years to come, we plan to have a permanent hatchery running in order to maintain our fish stocks.

Emergency management was taken to a new level this year with our first evacuation site opened to evacuees across the province. The community of Tl’esqox hosted the lodging, which ended up being used by wildfire fighter crews. In the end, we didn’t need to use this site for our people, but working through this process has increased our preparedness for it – if it is needed in the future. As the area faces the impacts of the climate crisis, we want to ensure that everyone is prepared and protected in the time of an emergency.

Many of the social problems that we face in our communities can be helped by addressing the housing crisis. TNG has been offering carpentry training in the territory and employment for the graduates of these programs. This has led to many of our people working in the communities doing home renovations and new builds. By the fall of 2023, all of our communities had at least one new home. There is still a long way to go with housing in our communities – we recognize that.

The Tŝilhqot’in Nation has been working internationally to bring attention to Indigenous rights and title in Canada. The chiefs spoke at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York in April. They also met with numerous Indigenous groups to share the story of the title case. Chief Francis Laceese also traveled to the United Nations in Geneva in July this year.

2024 will mark the 10-year anniversary of the Tŝilhqot’in Title Decision. We will be celebrating this moment on the Declared Title Land. We hope that everyone has a safe and healthy holiday and all the best for 2024.

The Williams Lake Tribune reached out to Nits’ilʔin (Chief) Joe Alphonse for a year in review column, and we thank him for providing one.