For the first time in nearly 30 years, the Northwest Territories have played host to members of the British Royal Family.
On Thursday, May 19, Prince Charles of Wales and Duchess Camilla of Cornwall arrived in Yellowknife, the third and final day of their Royal Tour. They had first stopped in St. John on the 17th, and Ottawa on the 18th. Their various stops in Yellowknife were to help celebrate the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee.
After arriving in Yellowknife at the airport, the Royal’s motorcade wasted no time, and escorted Their Royal Highnesses to Dettah. While there, the two were welcomed to the Dene community by various leaders. They were able to witness a traditional “feeding the fire” ceremony, and witnessed several performances by the local Dene Drummers. Charles himself even took part in a circle march with the public.
While in Dettah, the two Royals went on separate tours, and enjoyed different experiences. The Prince of Wales had a brief discussion with local chiefs, while the Duchess visited the Kaw Tay Whee School to learn about the school’s culturally responsive programming and its efforts to preserve their Indigenous language.
After leaving Dettah, it was back to Yellowknife. The Prince of Wales was on his own again as he was brought to the Ice Road that connects the city to Dettah. While the road itself has been unusable for some time now, Charles still enjoyed a brief walk along the shoreline. During his time there, he spoke with various climate experts about the dangers posed by climate change, and learned of several new, indigenous-lead strategies to combat climate change. Charles also spoke with another Indigenous leader, who presented him with various locally crafted Indigenous tools, and gifted him a air of caribou skin slippers.
While Charles toured the Ice Road, the Duchess of Cornwall paid a visit to a YWCA transitional housing centre for women and their children that offers a stable, safe and affordable place to call home. During their stay at this centre, women are provided with support and guidance as well as advice on career development to help integrate them into the workforce so that they can lead self-sufficient lives. Basic life skills are also taught, such as cooking, literacy, budgeting, etc. Above all else, women support each other and build a safe and trustworthy community at Lynn’s Place.
The day was winding down, with only a few more stops on the itinerary. A trip to Yellowknife would likely be incomplete for the Prince of Wales if he didn’t visit the building that bore his very title. The Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre was the next stop on the trip. While there, Their Royal Highnesses met with local food producers exploring innovative ways to face environmental challenges in the food production sector in Northern Canada and to discuss entrepreneurship in the context of the pandemic. The pair was greeted by several vendors who had set up small displays of their goods and services. Laughing Lichen, My African Kitchen in YK, Fishy People, and Bush Order Provisions had the honour of showing their wares directly to the couple.
After that, the Prince and Duchess took the short walk to the Ceremonial Circle. A crowd of Yellowknife citizens eagerly awaited their arrival. After a brief introduction by various NWT dignitaries, Charles took to the podium. He addressed the crowd, thanking them for their hospitality. He spoke to them about Canada’s resiliency, as earlier in the day, he had spoken with people directly affected the horrible impacts of residential schools. He reminded the crowd that we must take action against climate change, to assure a future for the generations to come.
“We have taken the environment from them.” He stated.
The speech was brief, and the crowd applauded the Prince. From there, it was a brief drive back to the airport; their plane ready to take them back to England.
The Royal Tour 2022 only lasted three days, but it covered just as many provinces and territories across our country. The British Royal Family may very well be some of the only people who can claim to have been all over the world, and for that statement to be true.