Overview of History of the Sto:lo After Contact

Indian reserves are the remnants of “Our Land” they are the bits and pieces of our sovereignty, of our culture that have survived. They are monuments of our victory against extinction. They are symbols of continuing struggle against our oppression by the Europeans. Today an Indian reserve is a jail. Tomorrow it should be the basis of independence.

1778 Captain James Cook lands at Nootka Sound
1782 Smallpox epidemic kills 2/3 of population in 2 months
1848 Measles and dysentery
  • Starving miners are fed by the Sto:lo people are called Xwelitem (meaning "hungry ones") this  term is still used today
  • Alcohol is introduced
1859 The policy of assimilation is introduced
1863 St Mary's Roman Catholic Boarding School in Mission built and
  • Native Children are taken from their parents and forced to attend
  • Large influx of British Settlers
1876 The Indian Act is established
1879 Dysentery, syphilis
1881 Lung disease, measles, scarlet fever
1882 Consumption
1884 Potlatch outlawed
1886 Coqualeetza Mission Home opened in Chilliwack
1886 Bronchitis and consumption
1890 Missionaries burn house poles, ceremonial masks and regalia
  • Influenza (each family lost at least one member)
1891 Sto:lo population counted at 4,338
  • non-aboriginals now outnumber aboriginals
1893 Coqualeetza Industrial Institute residential school opens
1895 DIA (The Department of Indian Affairs) says that there are no serious contagious diseases, but a good deal of grippe (influenza), pneumonia and consumption (tuberculosis)
1896 Smallpox epidemic from 1869 through 1896. Estimated 98% death rate
1899 Measles
1921 Sto:lo population counted at 1,200 (lowest)
1930 Father John, from St. Mary’s, states “as long as I am principle of St. Mary’s, no Indian will go to high school”
1935 Coqualeetza Tuberculosis Preventorium is built
1940  Coqualeetza Residential School closes
1941 Coqualeetza Indian Hospital opens
1951 The Indian Act is amended
  • Allows Aboriginals to retain Indian Status and be Canadian Citizens at the same time
  • Repeals the anti-potlatch law (had been in effect for 67 years)
  • Allows that when no Federal law exists the Provincial law applies. Since there is no Federal child protection laws,  BC has the responsibility for BC’s Aboriginal children
  • 29 are in care in BC
1961 Aboriginal people on-reserve are allowed to vote in Federal elections
1960's Residential Schools start to phase out
  • “The 60’s Scoop”. The apprehension of Aboriginal children by the province. By 1964 there were 1,466 Aboriginal children in care in BC (over 50 times as many in 13 years)
  • Adopt an Indian or Métis (AIM) child program in place. Between 1960 and 1990 11,132 status Indian children were adopted out by the province
  • 70% to non-native families, many to other provinces and some to some other country
1969 Federal Government proposes that status be removed, as assimilation is believed to be complete.
1984 The last residential school closes in Mission, BC. had been in place for 120 years. The youngest child taken was 2 years old and stayed until she was 18 years old. Residential experiences include:
  • Separation and loss
  • Taken from parents and community
  • Separated at school by gender and age, did not grow up with siblings
  • Cannot speak own language (tongues were pierced with a needle if spoken their own languages
  • Cannot practice own traditional culture: food, clothing, stories, songs and dances
  • If a family member died while the child was in school the child could not attend the funeral. If the child died while in school, the body was not sent back to the parents and community. 100,000 children died in Residential School
  • Neglect
  • Not much food,and what food was served was poor in nutrition
  • Cold in the winter
  • No affection and no positive attention
  • Poor medical attention
  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Called names (bullying)
  • Belittled personally, culturally. and spiritually
  • Witnessed violence
  • Sexual abuse
1990 The Ministry of Social Services appoints a panel to review child welfare in BC. The panel recognizes the unique history that Aboriginal people had with the province in regard to child welfare
1993 Xyolhemeylh was created and assumes responsibility for administering child and welfare programs for Sto:lo families and children
1995 The Child, Family and Community Services Act placed emphasis on community and family involvement and the preservation of Aboriginal culture