The Cameron Ridge Conspiracy - Synopsis
In the Cariboo Gold Rush year of 1859 Rose Wilson, a young Shuswap First Nation girl, tragically loses her brother and sister at the hands of three miners. Ten years later, as a young woman, Rose recalls the story of their deaths and how she,her family and her village sought healing and justice in the midst of the chaos brought to their territory by those seeking gold and by British attempts to gain control over the new colony; chaos that changed the traditional Shuswap world forever.
Rose’s story is one of resilience and courage and is a vivid portrayal of the lives of her family and their village over a critical year in British Columbia history. Cultures are on a collision course and at times are about to meet head on if not for the collective wisdom of the women elders.
The overwhelming tide of newcomers to their land must be accepted, but on whose terms? In her honest and gentle way Rose throws open a window to the past that offers a view not seen before.
Violence erupted in 1858 between miners and the Nlaka’pamux Nation. Thousands of gold seekers swept up the Fraser Canyon and there were numerous deaths on both sides in what is now referred to as the ‘Canyon War’. The gun culture that was migrating into the colonies, predominantly but not exclusively from the south, concerned the British authorities who had already ceded the territory south of the 49th parallel to the Americans in 1846.
A coalition of Interior First Nations was about to declare war on the miners. So the British coloniztation strategy went into high gear under Governor James Douglas. They sought to gain control of the land and impose British law on all of those living on it, including First Nations people.
The conflict settled down but lingered and made its way north into the Cariboo during that gold rush. Between the years 1860 to 1863 thousands of acres of Shuswap (Secwepemc) territory was pre-empted and leased by the crown to settlers. There was no agreement and no treaty about this. There still isn’t.
The history in which the story is set is BC history and is as accurate as the author can ascertain through research. Governor Douglas and Justice Matthew Begbie were real figures. The rest of the person names are fictitious as are the Aboriginal place names. This was done solely to avoid running afoul of specific family and community history. Anyone familiar with the Cariboo will recognize the Aboriginal places that have had their names altered.
The story, while a work of fiction, could have happened. Aboriginal history was not written down. The ‘Cameron Ridge Conspiracy’ looks back beyond the heroics of famous ranchers and guides and outfitters and offers a different lens on the time, an Aboriginal perspective.