'It's very important to recognize that while we're receptive … this is still Treaty land'
Royals in Yellowknife
Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, visit Yellowknife.
Two members of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN) Council say Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, were "very polite" and interested in learning about Dene culture during their stop in Dettah, N.W.T., on Thursday.
The royal couple were in the Dene community, which is 25 kilometres away from Yellowknife, as part of their third and final day of their Canada tour. The visit comes in honour of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, a celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's 70 years on the throne.
"They were just very interested in everything, and really took an interest in learning how everything is done," said Kateri Lynn, a member of the YKDFN council. Lynn and Jessica Sangris both wore beaded pins that said "Land Back" while showing Charles and Camilla traditional hunting items and gifting them with moccasins.
"I think it's very important to recognize that while we're receptive and happy to receive them, that this is still Treaty land," said Sangris. "It would be nice to have our traditional land back."
The four-hour royal visit began just before 2 p.m. with an airport arrival, where the couple was welcomed by Yellowknife Mayor Rebecca Alty and N.W.T. Commissioner Margaret Thom. The couple also accepted flowers from seven-year-old Sahaiʔa Talbot, a student at K'àlemì Dene School.
After roughly an hour-and-a-half in Dettah, Charles headed to Fred Henne Territorial Park in Yellowknife to meet with the Canadian Rangers. The prince briefly sat atop a snowmobile — a critical means of transportation in the North — and was shown different animal furs, drums and weapons. He is also set to become an honourary member of the Canadian Rangers.
Charles then attended the Rotary Centennial Park — near the former entry point for the now melting Dettah ice road — to speak with climate change activists. The ice road has been closed for the season since April 22.
Camilla, meanwhile, has visited with students at Dettah's Kaw Tay Whee School and headed to Yellowknife to visit the YWCA's transitional housing centre for women and children.
Kathy Franki lives in Dettah, where the royal couple were scheduled to attend a number of public events, including a fire-feeding ceremony and a meeting with Indigenous leaders and elders, before splitting up. Franki came out to see the royals with her common law partner.
"I'll tell my granddaughter I seen Prince Charles," she said.
Jackson Lafferty, the Tłı̨chǫ Grand Chief, was among those gathered in Dettah to greet the royal couple. He described the visit as "very exciting."
"His [Charles'] prime focus is climate change, environment and also reconciliation, Indigenous reconciliation. There's been talks about that, which is great."
Fred Sangris, the Yellowknives Dene First Nation Chief for Ndilǫ, told CBC News Network that Prince Charles took part in a drum dance in Dettah.
"Nobody thought he would, but he did have a dance once around, and that shows that he does care and wants to help," he said. Sangris said he and other leaders had the chance to speak with Charles about reconciliation, residential schools, the Giant Mine remediation project and a lack of housing.
"I think he understood. He was really attentive, listening to our concerns."
📍 Kaw Tay Whee Community School, Dettah<br><br>Wiìliìdeh yatìi hoghàgohto gha mahsi ts'įwo.<br><br>Thank you for teaching us to learn Wıìlıìdeh with you! <a href="https://t.co/6lJevrgqsK">pic.twitter.com/6lJevrgqsK</a>
What follows is the rest of the royal couple's trip itinerary: Charles will visit the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, which was named for Prince Charles when it opened in 1979 — an event for which Charles was present. Camilla will also attend the museum, before the couple splits up again.
Charles will meet with food producers at the museum to discuss food production and entrepreneurship, as well as environmental challenges. He'll also take part in a discussion on Treaty 11 and observe a demonstration of traditional Inuit sports. Camilla will learn about traditional crafts from local artisans.
Yellowknifers are invited to take part in the final event of the visit: a public flag-raising and the unveiling of a plaque behind the Joint Task Force North building near Frame Lake. It is slated to begin at 6:05 p.m., but will likely begin later as events run late.
The royal tour ends with an evening departure ceremony at the airport.
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