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

Twenty-two percent of Bella Coola residents rely on Food Bank

Demand for Christmas Hampers up by 45 families this year

Site C dam goes ahead, cost estimate now up to $10.7 billion

Premier John Horgan says Christy Clark left him no other choice

Verdict to be delivered December 15 for three on trial in Anahim murders

The fates of Christian Craciun, Andrew Jongbloets, and Serena Rhem (Mack) will be decided on December 15 at 10am.

‘I fell asleep’ admits second mate in Nathan E. Stewart fuel spill

The tug spilled more than 100,000 litres of diesel off B.C.’s northern coast

Northwest’s new MRI hits milestone

Stakeholders celebrate 500th scan of diagnostic imaging device

VIDEO: New series takes in-depth look at sexual harassment in B.C.

Black Press takes a hard look at sexual harassment in B.C.

Horgan says pot smokers may face same outdoor rules as cigarette smokers

B.C. is developing its rules on recreational marijuana

Truck driver volunteers to take dog lost in B.C. back home to Alberta

Frankie, a pit bull service dog, was found wandering in the Lower Mainland

B.C. teacher suspended after explicit images projected to class

Jeffrey Rohin Muthanna had been viewing porn on a school laptop for two years

Man who pledged to give B.C. hockey team millions charged with fraud

Mike Gould has since repaid $8,000 he allegedly owed Cranbrook restaurant, owner says

Strong economy fuels housing sales in B.C.: report

Economist says demand for houses is being supported by a large number of millennials entering the market

Tequila, hammers and knives: what not to bring on an airplane

Vancouver International Airport staff provide tips on travelling during the holidays

New fighter-jet competition to have national ‘economic interest’ requirement

Trudeau government wants to replace Canada’s aging CF-18s with 88 new fighters by as early as 2025

The top-binged shows on Netflix in 2017

Which show did you cheat on your spouse with by watching ahead?

Most Read