(Morgan Lowrie – Canoe.com – Yellowknife, NWT – May 19, 2022) — Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, landed Thursday in Yellowknife, where they were to speak with First Nations chiefs on the final day of their royal visit that has focused on Indigenous issues and climate change.
The couple were greeted on the tarmac by Yellowknife Mayor Rebecca Alty and Margaret Thom, the commissioner of the Northwest Territories.
They were also presented with flowers wrapped in birch tree bark by a young student from the K’alemi Dene School, who was wearing an orange ribbon skirt.
The couple were next to go to the Yellowknives Dene First Nation community of Dettah, where Prince Charles was to speak with First Nations chiefs and hear about Indigenous-led solutions to climate change.
The duchess was to stop at a school to hear about programs aimed at preserving Indigenous languages, and the prince was to be made an honorary Canadian Ranger.
Their trip has been shaped by Canada’s reckoning with its relationship and history with Indigenous people as possible graves continue to be found at the sites of former residential schools across the country.
The three-day tour began Tuesday in Newfoundland and Labrador, where Prince Charles recognized the visit came at an important moment.
“We must find new ways to come to terms with the darker and more difficult aspects of the past, acknowledging, reconciling and striving to do better,” he said.
The royal couple next headed to Ottawa, where they attended a church service at a Ukrainian Orthodox cathedral and met with a family displaced by the Russian invasion.
During a Platinum Jubilee reception at Rideau Hall on Wednesday evening, Gov. Gen. Mary Simon encouraged the couple to listen to Indigenous leaders, elders and community members in the North. Simon said those stories are an integral part of the journey toward reconciliation.
RoseAnne Archibald, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said during the reception that she asked the prince for a formal apology from the Queen, as head of the Church of England. Metis National Council President Cassidy Caron also said she intended to use the occasion to request an apology.
Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller said Thursday that while all effective power rests with the government, not with the Queen, he understands comments from the royals could be important to some Indigenous people.
“It’s nuanced,” he said. “There are some Indigenous Peoples – much like non-Indigenous people – who couldn’t care less. There are many who have a profound deep connection to the Royal Family.”
The last royal visit to Northwest Territories was in 2011, when Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, were welcomed by large crowds during a one-day stop in the North during a whirlwind first royal tour for the newlyweds.
This royal visit was to culminate with a celebration in Yellowknife in honour of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Money to compensate young people harmed by Canada’s discriminatory child welfare system is expected to begin flowing to First Nations sometime next year, now that the federal government and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) have reached a final settlement agreement.
The canoe trip was “a wonderful way to actually see what my ancestors and the mountain people would have seen when they arrived on the Thames in the early 1780s,”
– Ian McCallum, a language educator for the Munsee-Delaware Nation
The Pope will be in Canada from July 24 to 29 with stops in Edmonton, Quebec City and Iqaluit, and is expected to apologize in person for the Catholic Church’s role in the residential school system.
“This decision, in our view, properly declined to intervene in the Executive Committee’s decision to suspend the National Chief, and does not support the claims that our actions were illegal or outside our authority,”
– Regional Chief Paul Prosper, spokesperson for the AFN.
The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador says it’s disappointed to learn only 400 seats have been allocated to survivors of residential schools in Quebec as Pope Francis visits the province for mass later this month. The mass will be held near Quebec City at the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré basilica on July 28, when the Pope is expected to apologize in person for the Catholic Church’s role in the residential school system.
“I campaigned on health and healing. And was hoping that we would have unity, and mostly working with the community and the citizens. And accountability and transparency to the citizens. But health and healing mostly.”
– Maria Benoit, nthe new Haa Shaa du Hen