Prince Charles and Camilla wrap up Platinum Jubilee visit in Northwest Territories

By Morgan Lowrie

THE CANADIAN PRESS

YELLOWKNIFE-Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, took part in a ceremonial lighting of a fire on a First Nation in the Northwest Territories as the royal visit wraps up with a focus on Indigenous issues and climate change.

They were greeted by a large group at the Yellowknives Dene First Nation community of Dettah. The First Nation east of Yellowknife has a population of just over 200 people and dozens came out to shake hands with the couple.

Many of those who came were wearing orange clothing and other items with the words “every child matters” representing the legacy of residential schools.

Charles spoke with Dettah Chief Edward Sangris and Ndilo Chief Fred Sangris about the symbolism of the ceremony and previous royal visits to the North before a private meeting with Indigenous leadership.

The 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.

During a Platinum Jubilee reception at Rideau Hall on Wednesday, Gov. Gen. Mary Simon encouraged the couple to listen to Indigenous leaders, elders and community members in the North.

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.

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 couple were greeted earlier Thursday 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,

While Charles met with leaders, the duchess stopped at a school to hear about programs aimed at preserving Indigenous languages.

There, she took part in a demonstration with a greenscreen and puppets, as well as stop-motion animation.

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.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 19, 2022.

 

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