Duke and Duchess welcomed by Heiltsuk Nation in rainy Bella Bella

Royals take in culture-sharing ceremony, visit to elders' lodge and youth centre, and dedicate Great Bear Rainforest

Prince William and Kate receive blankets as gifts during the Heiltsuk Nation welcome in Bella Bella.

The Heiltsuk Nation focused on their youth, environment, and indigenous sovereignty when welcoming the Duke and Duchess to Bella Bella on Monday, as part of the couple’s week-long tour of B.C. and the Yukon.

Tour organizers had to change plans several times because of the heavy rain. Their float plane tour of the Great Bear Rainforest and a boat ride around the bay had to be cancelled.

But ceremonies carried on inside the community hall with a cultural welcome presented by the Heiltsuk youth.

William and Kate took time to meet each of the hereditary chiefs, shaking hands and speaking with each in turn as they entered the hall.

The Heiltsuk youth shared several dances and songs with the couple, who were joined by by Premier Christy Clark, Gov. Gen. David Johnston and his wife Sharon, and the federal minister of justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould.

In a candid moment, Kate was swarmed by young children after the dance. She appeared to enjoy every moment of it, engaging directly with several of the young girls who came up to see her.

Traditional protocol of the Heiltsuk Nation entailed the presentation of gifts to the royal couple and dignitaries. The Duke and Duchess were wrapped in traditional blankets before receiving several items; their favourite appearing to be traditional blankets and vests for their children, and a drum for Prince George.

In a moving speech closing the ceremony at the hall, Heiltsuk hereditary chief Edwin Newman presented a staff given to the Heiltsuk by Queen Victoria, and spoke of his community’s resilience, sovereignty, and ties to the land.

“We own this land. Every bit of it,” Newman stated. “This staff represents that we are a sovereign nation, and this is the message I am passing to through your Royal Highnesses. Our minds will never change about our ownership of this land.”

The procession then moved to the Elders’ Lodge where Heiltsuk resource manager Kelly Brown, Clark, Johnston, and Prince William recognized the dedication of the Great Bear Rainforest into the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy Initiative.

The visit concluded with the unveiling of a plaque in the forest before the couple returned to Victoria for the Black Rod ceremony and reception at Government House.

Just Posted

Trial date delayed in case of slain Oak Bay sisters

Case of Andrew Berry, charged in deaths of daughters, will reconvene in three weeks

GALLERY: Snow Day in Oak Bay

Giant snowmen, tobogganing, and a quiet golf course

BC SPCA proposes fines for animal mistreatment, reduction in commercial trade

Animal welfare group’s ideas brought to Victoria councillors

Duncan family says care home switched mom’s cat with robot cat

Staff alleged to have said they were taking cat for bath, then replaced her with robotic stuffed toy

New Victoria graving dock will offer high-paying jobs

New facility will reuse and treat any water required for repair process

GALLERY: Snow Day in Oak Bay

Giant snowmen, tobogganing, and a quiet golf course

Suspect and Mountie bitten by police dog during arrest near Nanaimo

Two suspects were arrested in connection with a stolen pickup truck in Cassidy on Thursday evening

B.C. ski cross racer wins Olympic gold

Kelowna’s Kelsey Serwa wins the gold medal in thrilling fashion in PyeongChang

All aboard! Job fair ports this weekend in Victoria

Find out about the hundreds of jobs in Victoria’s cruise ship industry

New charges against ex-Trump campaign associates

More charges were laid Thursday against President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman and his business associate

Sooke mom hopeful for funding to treat child’s debilitating arthritis

Jillian Lanthier ‘prays’ for $19,000 per-dose drug for her son

Man accused in death of Winnipeg teen Tina Fontaine not guilty

Raymond Cormier was accused of killing Indigenous 15-year-old and dumping her body in the Red River

Okanagan real estate agents brace for speculation tax impact

“There’s a real potential for a domino effect to hurt the market in Kelowna.”

Human remains found near Campbell River

Human remains were found in a rural area outside Campbell River, RCMP… Continue reading

Most Read