Chief Calliou Welcomes Royal BC Museum Peace Project

Chief Calliou Welcomes Royal BC Museum Peace Project

Kelly Lake Cree Nation works in collaboration with cultural organizations across BC and Alberta. On May 5, 2016, Chief Calliou was invited by the Royal BC Museum to deliver a welcoming message and opening remarks for Dr. Richard Hebda's introduction to the Peace Project. Chief Calliou's speech has been included below. KLCN would like to thank the Royal BC Museum for the opportunity to participate. For more information about The Peace Project, visit the Royal BC Museum website.


Welcome, delegates from the Royal BC Museum for visiting our territory and welcome Treaty 8 First Nation to our territory as well.

As'in'i'wachi Ni'yaw Nation, the Rocky Mountain Indians, consists of 10 clans living in the section of north central British Columbia. In English today we are called Kelly Lake Cree Nation. We are a part of the Cree and Dunneza tribes of this region and also the Iroquois people's who came to this territory with the fur trade.

For thousands of years the Rocky Mountain Indians existed in the area known today as the Peace region. They include areas at Rocky Mountain Fort on the Peace River where the current Site C dam will be constructed.

Our territory is not confined only to northeastern British Columbia but also includes areas as far as the southern portion of Jasper National Park and into central Alberta.

Our Cree language is unique and widely spoken across the Peace Region by many other tribes.

KLCN wants to work with Royal BC Museum to preserve our heritage and culture in this region. 

KLCN wants to work with RBCM and the Tumbler GeoPark to preserve important cultural sites such as 3000 year old heritage site at Gwillam Lake and other places.

KLCN also would like to see the repatriation of our ancestors and the artifacts located in museums in Canada as they are a part of the territory and our people.

Kelly Lake ancestors have a unique and long history within their territory south of the Peace River. Cultural sites such as The Hai'kowa mask was cut down in the early 1980s to provide room for the town of Tumbler Ridge.

This mask was part of the False Face Society that was of central importance to Iroquois religion. This Society was by far the largest and most popular of the many medicine societies among the Iroquois.

The original "False Face" was a supernatural being who was punished for being boastful and who had to cure sickness forever as a result. The masks were endowed with healing powers when they were worn and used with the proper rituals. After an ill person had a dream that involved a false face spirit, he or she would ask the society for help. The society came to dance for the individual and attempted to heal them. Once cured, the newly-healed person became a member of the society.

The masks were "fed" daily by having tobacco burned for them, being rubbed with oil, and being fed a cornmeal mush. It is worth noting that medicine societies had more than just ceremonial or religious significance. These kinds of societies also cross-cut clans and lineages, and they served as another way to knit tribal societies together.

I would like to thank Dr. Richard Hebda, and the Royal BC Museum for visiting today. We look forward to working together on the Peace Project and helping to document and study the rich diversity of our territory, which has been and continues to be under harsh pressures from widespread industrial development.