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

B.C. Ferries vessel breaks down right before long weekend

Horseshoe Bay-Langdale route impacted most, two Departure Bay sailings cancelled

Nanaimo man gets jail time for posting explicit photos of ex-girlfriends

Man’s name cannot be revealed to protect victims’ identities

Olympic skier from Nanaimo suing Alpine Canada after coach’s sex offences

Bertrand Charest was convicted in 2017 on 37 charges

Learn to build a telescope with Nanaimo Astronomy Society

Learn how to build or improve a telescope at the society’s meeting Thursday, June 27

Nanaimo police dog’s bark puts a stop to chainsaw theft

Suspect decides bite might be worse than bark when confronted by RCMP service dog Monday

SUV rolls over in crash in north Nanaimo

Accident happened on Rutherford Road on Wednesday afternoon

Readers vote for Nanaimo’s Best of the City

Complete results of the Nanaimo News Bulletin’s 2019 survey

Air North starts up non-stop flights from Nanaimo to Kelowna

Company running charter flights to Watson Lake, Yukon, including stops in Kelowna and Prince George

Nanaimo RCMP issue warning about counterfeit $100 bills

Fake $100 bill successfully passed at pharmacy on Bowen Road this month

Man appealing conviction for drive-by shooting attempt in Nanaimo

Armaan Singh Chandi was sentenced to nine years in jail in B.C. Supreme Court last month

Pirates hang on to beat neighbouring Royals

Nanaimo beats Parksville 2-0 in B.C. Premier Baseball League action

Pedestrian struck by vehicle in Stz’uminus dies from injuries

A male pedestrian was struck in the early morning of June 25

Foot ferry service in Nanaimo won’t happen this summer

Island Ferries says it still needs to secure funding

Every situation is different, jurors hear at coroners inquest into Oak Bay teen’s overdose death

Pediatrician says involuntary treatment necessary following overdose, opioid use

Most Read