As I read the news reports regarding the removal of the Judge Begbie statue, I am appalled at the rush to judgment of the man and his legacy. In my view he was a fine and upstanding individual. He was largely responsible for bringing law and order to a rough and tumble colony when it was needed most.
That said, in the fullness of time, through a different lens and with the view to reconciliation, we have come to see that he made an extremely horrible decision regarding (six First Nations) leaders that resulted in their wrongful deaths under the guise of judicial oversight.
However, the question I have to ask is this: How much rewriting of history and removal of statuary and place names are we going to undertake in the name truth and reconciliation? Perhaps we should remove all memorials to Gov. Seymour and Alfred Waddington as they also played a role in the events that eventually led Begbie to make his fateful decisions. We cannot erase history, nor should we, as we can learn from our mistakes.
In summary, Begbie’s one fateful decision does not and should not erase a lifetime of work that was exemplary, simply to appease the Chilcotin Nation. Rather we should similarly honour the Chilcotin leaders who defended their nation.
Ken Bergen, New Westminster