The kidnapping of a Sto:lo boy during the 1850s gold rush will be a lost story no more.
A memorial pole by Coast Salish artist Terry Horne of Chilliwack is being unveiled as a public art installation Saturday afternoon in Hope, as part of the Lost Stories/Canada 150 project from Concordia University.
Horne carved the commemorative pole to tell the heart-rending story of young Sto:lo boys who were kidnapped and taken to California and beyond by American gold miners during the Fraser River Gold Rush. Many were put to work as slaves essentially, and never saw their families again.
The stories are coming to light, in part due to research by Keith Carlson, University of Saskatchewan history professor, who is the former research coordinator for Sto:lo Nation. He’s also the B.C. “point person” for the Lost Stories project.
“I uncovered stories of 15 to 20 youth who were taken from Sto:lo families,” said Carlson, when asked how many young Sto:lo he thought this might have happened to. “So there’s deep historical context for this.”
He traces a thread from these historical events, right to today with the modern-day investigation into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, as well as men and boys.
The kidnapped Sto:lo youth story is one of four that will be inaugurated over the summer by the Lost Stories Project, that collects little-known episodes from Canada’s past, transforms them into works of public art, and documents the process through documentary film.
The agonizing story will also be captured in a documentary film by Stó:lō filmmaker Sandra Bonner-Pederson. The documentary will be posted on the Lost Stories website in December.
Horne has been carving for more than 20 years. He’s been carving house-posts, totem poles and masks, mainly from red cedar.
Horne, who is also a Chilliwack-area chief of Yakweakwioose First Nation, carries the ancestral name of Siyemches, passed down by his grandfather Frank Malloway.
Art Inauguration: Kidnapping of Sto:lo Boys During the Fraser River Gold Rush, A Lost Stories/Canada 150 Public Art Project, August 19, 2017, at 2 p.m. at the Chawthil FN’s Telte-Yet Camp Site, 600 Water Ave, Hope.