Despite the stormy weather in Bella Bella, British Columbia the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge still made it to the remote town on the edge of the Great Bear Rainforest.
Plans to arrive by float plane had to be axed due to the weather, but the Royal couple still made it where a warm welcome was waiting for them by the Heiltsuk people with traditional song and dance.
The present chief’s great-grandfather was given a Royal staff with a silver crown head given to him by Queen Victoria, the Duke and Duchess had the chance to view the piece of history.
Given to the Heiltsuk people as a sign of honour, it is reported that a message accompanied the staff reading: “This is a mark of respect. If your people need anything then you must ask my government.”
The highlight of the day was the official induction of the Great Bear Rainforest to The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, a network of forest conversation programs that all 53 countries of the Commonwealth take part in.
The couple then headed back to Victoria to prepare for the reception hosted by the province of British Columbia at Government House. However, the second storm of the day was brewing as the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) announced that they will not be attending the reception stating “Reconciliation must be more than symbolic”.
Grand Chief Phillip was asked to take part in the Black Rod Ceremony by passing the Ring of Reconciliation to the Duke, he would then invite him to attach the Ring onto the Black Rod.
In a press release by the UBCIC Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the UBCIC said: “After an intense three days of discussion and debate during our AGA; I put the matter to the Chiefs-in-Assembly of my participation in the Black Rod Ceremony. A clear majority of Chiefs felt, in the face of the Trudeau Government’s hesitancy to follow through on their federal election commitments and the Government of BC’s intransigence on following through with the Four Principles arising from the historic Supreme Court of Canada’s Tsilhqot’in decision, the Chiefs-in-Assembly felt it would not be appropriate for me to participate in a ‘reconciliation’ ceremony at this time.”
Finishing with: “I cannot participate in the Black Rod Ceremony. The suffering in our communities is too great. I apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused with our decision. We do not mean any disrespect. It is a matter principle.”
Used for formal occasions with Her Majesty The Queen of the Lieutenant Governor, the Black Rod is a ceremonial staff with symbols of each province and its relationship to the crown. The ceremony still went as planned but without the blessing of the UBCIC.