Haida Heritage Centre and Museum in Skidegate.

Royals to visit iconic B.C., Yukon locales oozing with beauty, social values

Aboriginal hosts figure large in plans to welcome Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Canada's West Coast

VICTORIA – The indigenous guardians of British Columbia’s remote and largely untouched Great Bear Rainforest are preparing a royal welcome for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as part of a Canadian tour of iconic B.C. and Yukon locales dripping with history, beauty and social conscience.

Starting Saturday, the Royals will make stops in Victoria, Kelowna, Bella Bella, Haida Gwaii, Whitehorse, Carcross, Yukon, and Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, among Canada’s most impoverished neighbourhoods.

Heiltsuk Nation Chief Marilyn Slett says her people have been living on B.C.’s central coast for thousands of years and Monday’s royal visit to their territory will open the doors to a worldwide sharing ceremony in the village of Bella Bella.

INTERACTIVE MAP: Where, when and what of Royal visit

Slett said the Heiltsuk artifacts dating back 14,000 years have been found on their coast territory.

“We’re very proud of the fact we’ve been very strong in land stewardship and protection of the Great Bear Rainforest,” she said. “That’s something we’re really proud to share with the world. It’s important for us that the rainforest, the resources, land and sea, be there for future generations for people on the coast.”

The Great Bear Rainforest is the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world and home of the kermode, or spirit bears, a subspecies of black bear noted for its white fur.

B.C.’s government protected from logging 85 per cent of the 6.4 million hectare area that stretches from the Discovery Islands off Vancouver Island northwards to Alaska.

The Heiltsuk will welcome the royal couple during a ceremony at their community hall in Bella Bella, a community only accessible only by float plane or boat.

“Our culture is strong and vibrant and we’re pleased to be able to share it with the royal couple,” said Slett.

At Haida Gwaii, on the province’s northern coast, the royals will take a canoe trip from historic Skidegate Landing to the Haida Heritage Centre and Museum.

The tour will also take the couple to a coast guard station in Vancouver, a wine tasting at an Okanagan vineyard in Kelowna, and indigenous cultural events at Whitehorse and Carcross.

The royals will also visit an immigrant centre in Vancouver that provides settlement services to 25,000 refugees annually.

In Victoria, where they will be based for the trip, the royal couple will host a garden party for military families at Government House and visit the Cridge Centre for the Family, which offers shelter, care and help for children, women and families.

On Sunday in Vancouver, William and Kate will visit Sheway, a pregnancy outreach program for young mothers struggling with drug and alcohol issues.

Prof. Sarika Bose, a Victorian England and monarchy scholar at the University of B.C., said William and Kate are highlighting issues of family, environment and community in the places they visit and people they meet.

“It really brings attention to British Columbia, both its beauties and some of the issues that British Columbians and Yukoners might have in common with other places in the world,” she said.

William and Kate’s children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, are making the trip to Canada, but are set to spend much of their time in Victoria while their parents conduct official duties.

The family is not scheduled to visit the northern B.C. city of Prince George.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Vancouver measles outbreak prompts vaccine vigilance on Island

Island health authorities push measles vaccinations - and not just for kids

UPDATED: Langford homes evacuated after water main break

Break at the corner of Goldstream Avenue and Strathmore Road, several homes without water

Snow not melting fast enough for some Greater Victoria residents

Resident unhappy with lack of snow removal on Mount Doug trails

BC Parks accepting application student ranger hiring program for its second year

48 students will get to have a summer job in the outdoors including in Goldstream Park

Watershed concerns prompt opposition to alternate Malahat routes

Motion submitted to Regional Water Supply Commission opposing highway in watershed

‘Riya was a dreamer’: Mother of slain 11-year-old Ontario girl heartbroken

Her father, Roopesh Rajkumar, 41, was arrested some 130 kilometres away

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of Feb. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Trudeau takes personal hit amid SNC-Lavalin controversy: poll

Overall, 41 per cent of respondents believed the prime minister had done something wrong in the affair

B.C. photographer captures otters on ice

A Langley photographer was at the right place at the right time on the Fraser River

Unplowed Roads parody song destined to be a classic

Move over Weird Al, Island elementary students on the same level

Do you live with your partner? More and more Canadians don’t

Statistics Canada shows fewer couples live together than did a decade ago

B.C. child killer denied mandatory outings from psychiatric hospital

The B.C. Review Board decision kept things status quo for Allan Schoenborn

Vancouver Island Pride Weekend coming to Mt. Washington

VIP events will be held Feb. 28 to March 3

Searchers return to avalanche-prone peak in Vancouver to look for snowshoer

North Shore Rescue, Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog teams and personnel will be on Mt. Seymour

Most Read