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Home / News / Heiltsuk First Nation to welcome royal couple, but not all First Nations leaders on-board

Heiltsuk First Nation to welcome royal couple, but not all First Nations leaders on-board

A traditional First Nations greeting, cultural presentations and aerial tour of the Great Bear Rainforest lie ahead today for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as they travel to the central coast on the second full day of their visit to BC and Yukon.

Prince William and his wife, Kate, travel to Bella Bella today to unveil a plaque officially endorsing the Great Bear Rainforest under The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, which promotes forest conservation and recognizes indigenous forests across the commonwealth.

Chief Marilyn Slett of the Heiltsuk First Nation says while it’s an opportunity to show off their culture, it’s also a chance to raise awareness of deeper issues.

She says there was much soul searching when it came to whether or not to host the royal family, given the history of colonialization in the name of the Crown.

The royal couple then returns to Victoria for a ceremony at the legislature to add a ring of reconciliation to the Black Rod, which is used in the legislature when the Queen or Lieutenant Governor is present.

The ring is meant to represent the connection between the Crown, indigenous peoples and all British Columbians.

But one prominent First Nations leader won’t be taking part in the ceremony.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs says he won’t be a used in a photo-op.

Chiefs attending the recent annual general assembly of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs voted not to take part in the ceremony as a protest of provincial and federal government inaction on key First Nations concerns.

Grand Chief Phillip says the ceremony will be tightly scripted, giving him no chance to raise any issues or concerns.

He adds Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s rhetoric of having a relationship with Canada’s First Nations aren’t backed up by his actions.

UBCIC Secretary-Treasurer Judy Wilson says there is no true recognition of Indigenous title and rights when it comes to Site C, Enbridge, Kinder Morgan or Lelu Island.

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