News

Kwantlen First Nation elder murdered in Fort Langley

George Antone, an elder with the Kwantlen First Nations, was shot to death in his home on McMillan Island where he was born 71 years ago.

Langley RCMP were called to the 9400 block of Glover Road, on the Fort Langley reserve, at 5:15 p.m. on Monday by B.C. Ambulance Service.

Antone died of gun shot wounds, police said. His body was discovered by a family member.

The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) is investigating along with Langley RCMP's serious crime unit and the RCMP's First Nation Policing Unit.

IHIT spokesperson Sgt. Peter Thiessen told reporters it was two days before investigators could be certain foul play was involved.

"When we first attended here, based on what we found at the scene, it wasn't clear as to what the factors were in regards to his cause of death," Thiessen said on Wednesday afternoon.

"It wasn't clear whether we were dealing with a homicide, an accident or something else, something intentional. So it took some time for us to be clear on what in fact we were dealing with. As soon as we had that definitively we came forward first thing this morning.  We did not have that information until late last night."

Late last year, Times photographer John Gordon interviewed Antone in his home for a feature which appeared in Sideroads, the magazine which was in the Times' Wednesday, March 9 edition. Sideroads went to press last Friday, March 4.

Antone lived on McMillan Island until he was seven years old. He was taken to a residential school for the next decade, living far from home. The first residential facility was on Cooper Island, midway between Ucluelet and Bamfield. Later, he would be moved to one in Sechelt.

Life was tough for the children in residential homes. Some children tried to escape by swimming for shore. Most drowned, and when their parents came to visit them, they were told that their children had run away.

"The food was terrible," Antone recalled. So bad, in fact, that as a 16-year-old he stood almost six feet tall but weighed only 127 pounds.

"It was real sad the way they treated us," he said.

"We still got strapped every day, it was a very sad part of our lives, that residential school. My son got to go to school in Langley. He was lucky."

The children were forbidden from speaking their own language. "They told us to talk like them. We were called savages."

When he finally left, he became a logger and fisherman.

"I still fish," he said in the interview.

He praised Chief Marilyn Gabriel.

"Marilyn helps us when she can. She's a good chief, she is making life better for us."

He liked that drumming came back.

"There are days when they drum and sing the old songs. When someone dies we drum, we don't bring the priest anymore."

Anyone with information is asked to call the IHIT Tip Line at 1-877-551-IHIT(4448) or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

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