Strong winds and pouring rain in British Columbia’s central coast didn’t dampen the spirits of those who turned out to welcome William and Kate.
Once again, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge left Prince George and Princess Charlotte behind in Victoria while they travelled to the Great Bear Rainforest and Bella Bella.
Bella Bella, also known as Waglisla, is the home of the Heiltsuk and is an unincorporated community and Indian Reserve community located within Bella Bella Indian Reserve No. 1 on the east coast of Campbell Island, in the Central Coast region of British Columbia, Canada.
TRH are currently receiving a welcome from the Heiltsuk First Nation pic.twitter.com/cQGmdSSo86
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) September 26, 2016
Due to the weather, they arrived in Bella Bella by boat and not by float plane, as originally planned.
The pair were guided by local young people through Bella Bella to the community centre where they were entertained by a youth performance, met community members and were received by hereditary chiefs, who were part of the official welcoming party.
During the traditional ceremony, William and Kate were shown one of the First Nations community’s most valued items, a royal staff complete with silver crown head. The presentation of this incredible item was a poignant reminder of the valued relationship between the First Nations community and the Royals in Canada – as the staff was gifted to the Heiltsuk people by Queen Victoria.
The Duke and Duchess also visited one of most beautiful areas in the region on the third day of the tour.
The Great Bear Rainforest covers 6.4 million hectares on B.C.’s north and central coast and is home to 26 separate First Nations.
It is the world’s largest temperate rainforest and is home to many of B.C.’s unique animals, including the Kermode (Spirit) bear.
The couple attended a ceremony held the celebrate the official dedication of the rainforest to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy – part of a long-standing conservation initiative.
Prince William spoke at the ceremony, thanking the Heiltsuk people for their hospitality and reiterating the importance of such initiatives.
“The establishment of the Canopy is a loud and unambiguous statement that the citizens of all Commonwealth countries believe that nature is fundamental to the health of our societies,” he said.
He added: “When we protect our rivers, oceans, atmospheres, or like today, our forests, we are telling our children that their future prosperity cannot be disconnected from the health of the natural world. Her Majesty is immensely grateful to you, and the people of Canada, for the leadership you have shown in making this contribution. I have no doubt that other Commonwealth nations will be inspired by what you have achieved here.”