The North Island had a taste of royalty as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made a visit to Bella Bella and the Great Bear Rainforest on their recent visit to Canada.
Prior to their arrival Heiltsuk Chief Marilyn Slett said, in a press release, that the community was “very pleased that our community is included in their tour of BC.
“What better way for the Duke and Duchess to learn about the people who live in the Great Bear Rainforest than to come to our territories. While in our community they will see a strong and vibrant community and culture,” Slett said.
William and Kate were greeted by a rousing cheer when they arrived at the Wawiskas Community Hall, where they met community members and about two dozen hereditary chiefs who were part of the official welcoming party.
Unfortunately plans to show off the Great Bear Rainforest to Will and Kate were scuttled due to high winds, choppy water and pouring rain. A boat tour of the Bella Bella Harbour was also cancelled.
In their honour, a new $1-million trust will be established to commemorate the visit of Their Royal Highnesses, and celebrate the endorsement of the Great Bear Rainforest under The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy initiative, Premier Christy Clark announced.
The new Great Bear Rainforest Education and Awareness Trust will foster a deeper public recognition and appreciation of the unique nature of the Great Bear Rainforest.
Trust funds will be used to support various activities, including: developing teacher and student resources on the Great Bear Rainforest that’s aligned to B.C.’s new curriculum; raising public awareness of the Great Bear Rainforest and the people who have lived on B.C.‚‘s Central and North Coast for more than 12,000 years; Resource management practices and supporting ongoing research; investing in and supporting broader resource management-based education, awareness and understanding in the Great Bear Rainforest area.
The new trust will be operational later this year. Fund disbursements will be overseen by an advisory board with representatives from government, First Nations and different sectors.
In Victoria, in the presence of First Nations leaders, Prince William affixed the Ring of Reconciliation to British Columbia’s Black Rod in a ceremony at Government House.
The Black Rod of British Columbia is a ceremonial staff created in 2012 to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada.
The Ring of Reconciliation symbolizes a step toward reconciliation of all cultures in British Columbia. It is inscribed with Lets’e Mot, meaning “one mind”.
Two eagle feathers separate the words from an etching of the canoe Shxwtitostel (meaning a safe place to cross the river), a gift from former Lieutenant Governor Steven Point to the people of British Columbia. Point was B.C.’s first aboriginal Lieutenant Governor.
The four-metre, shovel-nosed, red cedar canoe was the product of 13 months of carving by Point and Chief Tony Hunt, Hereditary Chief of the Kwakiutl and master carver.
“Shxwtitostel is a gift to all peoples in British Columbia as a symbol of my belief that we need to create a better understanding amongst all people that we are in the same canoe,” said the Lieutenant Governor in 2010. “No matter where you are from, we all need to paddle together.”
The Ring of Reconciliation is the fourth and final ring on the Black Rod. There are three additional silver rings near the base of the Black Rod.
The rings are inscribed with the motto of the Order of the Garter, the national motto of Canada, and the provincial motto of British Columbia.
The Order of the Garter is the highest order of chivalry and the third most prestigious honour (inferior only to the Victoria Cross and George Cross) in England and the United Kingdom