It was a very busy day for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as they travelled to beautiful Bella Bella and then back to Victoria for an evening reception at Government House. Inclimate weather in Bella Bella meant that there were delays in the events as well as an unfortunate cancellation of a float plane ride, but the Duke and Duchess did not let a little rain spoil their visit!
Bella Bella, also known as Waglisla, is a small Heiltsuk First Nation community situated on the east coast of Campbell Island in the Central Coast region of British Columbia and the Great Bear Rainforest. The village, located on Campbell Island, is amalgamated from all Heiltsuk tribes who occupied numerous large winter and spring villages and associated camp sites spread throughout this traditional territory.
William and Kate took stroll along a boardwalk in the Great Beat Rainforest. Screeching seagulls feeding on salmon carcasses were among the extraordinary sights greeting William and Kate.
William and Kate were met Bella Bella aboriginals who presented them with hand-carved wooden paddles. William and Kate were urged to dip the paddles n the water because it will bring them back.
Following the exciting ceremony, the Duke and Duchess departed on foot for the Elders Lodge, where they arrived to announce that the Great Bear Rainforest will be dedicated as part of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy Initiative.
The Great Bear Rainforest represents one of the largest tracts of intact coastal temperate rainforest in the world, stretching some 400 kilometres along the central and north coast of British Columbia. It is home to numerous species of plant and animals, including old growth trees, orcas, grizzlies and Kermode bears, which are known as spirit bears and belong to a sub-species of black bear noted for its white fur.
The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy (QCC) was launched at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta in 2015. The QCC is a unique network of forest conversation initiatives, which involves all 53 countries of the Commonwealth. The QCC presents a rare opportunity to unite the whole Commonwealth family and save one of the world’s most important natural habitats—forests. By creating a pan-Commonwealth network of forest conservation products, the QCC will mark Her Majesty The Queen’s service to the Commonwealth while conserving indigenous forests for future generations.
The couple then departed to another area of the rainforest on McLoughlin Bay where they completed a dedication before taking a boat tour of the area and departing Bachelor Bay.
*Pictures are limited, post will be updated when better photos are available*
Upon their return to Victoria, there was time for a change of clothing before the Duke and Duchess attended the Black Rod Ceremony at Government House, where they affixed the Ring of Reconciliation to the Black Rod of the Parliament of British Columbia.
The Black Rod is a ceremonial staff created in 2012 to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada. It is used on formal occasions when the monarch or her provincial representative, the Lieutenant Governor, is present in the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia.
Since the inauguration of the Black Rod, several Aboriginal communities in British Columbia have requested that an Aboriginal ring be affixed to the rod. This would signify the connection between the Crown, Aboriginal peoples and all British Columbians. To honour this request, a fourth ring—the Aboriginal ring—will be affixed to the Black Rod in 2016. Having a representative of Her Majesty The Queen affix the ring will reinforce the unique and historic relationship of the Sovereign as the guardian and protector of Aboriginal peoples and will symbolize the reconciliation of all cultures in British Columbia.
From there, the Duke and Duchess enjoyed an evening reception at Government House which included various Canadians who have made notable contributions to the province of British Columbia and to Canada. Picture below via @JWhatling.
Their Royal Highnesses met some of British Columbia’s most notable citizens from many fields of endeavour, including members of the Order of British Columbia, philanthropists, First Nations leaders, youth leaders and veterans. Ecole Cobble Hill Elementary School got guests into the spirit of Canada’s 150 birthday with their original song, “My Canada,” the winner of the Lieutenant Governor’s “Sing Me a Song” Program. On display for the occasion was the Witness Blanket, an installation which stands as a national monument to the atrocities of the Indian Residential School era, to honour the children, and to symbolize ongoing reconciliation.