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Yellowknife

May 19: Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall visit the NWT

Last modified: May 19, 2022 at 7:28pm

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall visited Dettah and Yellowknife on Thursday for an afternoon-long tour with six main stops.

Charles and Camilla arrived from Ottawa for the final leg of a three-day Canadian tour. Their first engagement in the Northwest Territories began shortly after 2:30pm, in Dettah.

This live page provided updates as we followed the royal party around Yellowknife and Dettah.

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Newer updates appear first.


By Ollie Williams in the Cabin Radio newsroom and Emily Blake with the royal party.

KEY UPDATES:


18:57 – And with that, the royals are on their way to the airport and our live coverage concludes.

Here are Charles and Camilla shaking a few final hands as they leave the site of the platinum jubilee ceremony.

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We’ll have photos from the day on our website on Friday morning. Thanks for reading.


18:51 – Charles concludes his speech with a well-pronounced “mahsi cho,” having expressed his gratitude at “renewing connections I established more than 50 years ago,” on his first visit with his family in 1970. There is applause followed by fiddle music.


18:49 – After calls for a royal apology over the government’s role in Indigenous trauma, Charles moves on to the subject of residential schools.

“I particularly wanted to express my special thanks to everyone in the community of Dettah,” he says. “Your willingness to share with us your traditions, your concerns, and your profound wisdom … enables us to deepen our understanding of this important moment in Canada’s journey.

“It has been deeply moving to have met survivors of residential schools who, with such courage, have shared their experiences. On behalf of my wife and myself, I want to acknowledge their suffering and to say how much our hearts go out to them and their families.

“All leaders have shared with me the importance of advancing reconciliation in Canada. We must listen to the truth of the lived experiences of Indigenous peoples and we should work to understand better their pain and suffering. We all have a responsibility to listen, understand and act in ways that foster relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.”


18:45 – Charles, after an iffy start in which he mispronounces “Dene,” says he and Camilla “have again been reminded of everything that makes Canada so special.”

“What connects you all is that when faced with a challenge, you do not run from it,” he says. “You run towards it. And I hope that your actions inspire and challenge others to do the same.”

As he turns to the subject of climate change, there is an acknowledgement of the flooding situation in Hay River.

“What I’ve heard and witnessed first-hand of the devastating impact of climate change in the North merely convinces me of a supremely urgent need to take decisive, bold action on behalf of future generations,” Charles says.

“Time is rapidly running out. To succeed we will need to restore our relationship with nature, challenge the status quo, innovate new businesses and financial models, work across borders at scale, and ensure a just, sustainable transition for all.

“I can only say how strongly I would encourage the leadership of the Northwest Territories to address this challenge by working alongside Indigenous knowledge-keepers to restore harmony with nature while also looking at vital, community-scale renewable energy solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as biofuels, hydropower, solar and wind.”


18:38 – “I hope you’ve enjoyed your visit here and you leave with a renewed understanding and appreciation of life here in the Northwest Territories,” Premier Cochrane tells Charles and Camilla in this, the final ceremonial act before the royal duo departs. “In the Territories, reconciliation is part of our everyday lives. We teach Indigenous languages in schools and we support efforts to reconnect people with their culture, their language, and the land that has given their communities life for thousands of years.

“Your Royal Highnesses, I hope that during your visit, you had the opportunity to learn and reflect on the history, the culture and the traditions of Indigenous peoples of the Northwest Territories, and the work that we’re doing to address climate change and advance reconciliation.”

Cochrane also announces the NWT government will, as a mark of recognition for the Queen’s platinum jubilee, give a further $25,000 to United Way NWT to assist with flood relief in the South Slave.


18:35 – Charles, Premier Caroline Cochrane and fellow NWT cabinet member Diane Archie are making speeches. Stand by for some excerpts.


18:24 – A chance for Charles to greet the crowd. It’s a short walk to the site of the final event, a jubilee celebration ceremony over by Joint Task Force North.

Emily Blake/Cabin Radio

18:11 – Bush Order Provisions’ Kyle Thomas talked to us about meeting Charles and Camilla.

“Someone reached out to us. They saw that Bush Order was kind-of a hub for local food production … and they thought it would be a good opportunity for the duchess and the prince to meet local producers. That’s how the ball started to roll and it’s evolved since then,” he said, admitting there were “some nerves” on shaking Charles’ hand.

“We work hard day in day out, six, seven days a week,” said Thomas, “so it’s a moment to relax and enjoy some recognition for the hard work that we’re all doing, building up an industry or a sector that is quite small, still.”


18:07 – It’s a fair old crowd. Monarchism may yet be alive and well in Yellowknife, despite all Instagram polling.

Emily Blake/Cabin Radio

18:04 – The crowd outside the museum. (Events inside are open only to a pool reporter, which is a reporter assigned by The Canadian Press who is allowed to go in. They later provide a summary for any news agency that “buys into the pool” to use. Can Cabin Radio afford that? Absatively posolutely not. So here’s the crowd outside the museum.)

Emily Blake/Cabin Radio

17:58 – RJ Simpson welcomes Charles and Camilla to a museum that Charles, to the best of my knowledge, opened a short while before RJ’s birth.

Emily Blake/Cabin Radio

17:48 – And just like that (see 17:46), here’s Charles being greeted by Bush Order Provisions’ Marie-Christine Auger and Kyle Thomas.

Emily Blake/Cabin Radio

17:46 – At the museum, we’re expecting Charles to be greeted by Bush Order Provisions’ Kyle Thomas, then education minister RJ Simpson. Robin Weber will open the same door to the museum that she opened for Charles in 1979, when she was five. (Robin grew up to work in the building.)

Charles will discuss the museum’s Treaty 11 exhibit with John B Zoe, then watch an Arctic sports demonstration led by Veronica McDonald and James Williams. Camilla will spend time with Indigenous artisans.


17:33 – Charles is on his way to the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, the penultimate stop and, of course, a building named for him on his last territorial visit in 1979.


17:31 – Prince Charles has been speaking with Dahti Tsetso, the Tłı̨chǫ Dene deputy director of the Indigenous Leadership Initiative, about Indigenous-led approaches to conservation.

“I talked to him about how, when we take an Indigenous-led approach, we lead with our language, culture and way of life,” Tsetso told reporters following that conversation.

“We strengthen who we are as Indigenous people, taking care of the land and water around us. When we take that approach, we’re then able to access deep knowledge systems held by our communities and our knowledge-holders. We also enable the next generation of Indigenous youth to learn from Elders and knowledge-holders and strengthen who they are as Indigenous people, and that can have such a healing and transformative impact in our communities.

“He really seemed to understand and acknowledge how important that was.”

Asked how she felt about the royal tour, Tsetso said: “This type of work, that I’ve been working to advocate for, needs more advocates. It’s important for people in positions to bring attention to it and I think that’s what the prince has helped to do by having us as a part of his royal tour.”

Dahti Tsetso speaks with Prince Charles. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio
Information boards along Rotary Park’s trail. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio

17:21 – Camilla has been visiting Lynn’s Place, the YWCA safe housing facility for women and children. We didn’t have access to follow her but others did. Here’s the Daily Mail’s Rebecca English with a short summary.


17:17 – At Rotary Park, the British press is interested in a dog wearing a pair of goggles.

Emily Blake/Cabin Radio

17:15 – At Dettah’s Kaw Tay Whee School, students gifted four books to Camilla. One of those books was Yellowknife author Lana de Bastiani’s The Fox and My Boot, illustrated by Janet Pacey. The others were the school’s own Walking in Dettah, Picture a Tree by Barbara Reid, and Robert Munsch’s The Paper Bag Princess. De Bastiani, Reid and Munsch all signed the copies of their books that were presented.

“It was interesting,” said Kaw Tay Whee School principal Lea Lamoureux of the visit. “I think it was really nice to have some of our Elders and grandparents involved in it, and it was a good opportunity, I think, for the kids to be in the spotlight a little bit with their language.”

Most of the teachers at Kaw Tay Whee School are not Indigenous, but the vast majority of the students, parents and grandparents are. Students taught Camilla a little Wılıı̀deh. They also gifted her a piece of beading and some fish-scale art on a brooch.

“I think the fact that they had the opportunity to show, talk, and demonstrate – share important pieces of their culture at the school, where they were comfortable – it felt like a meaningful experience to me,” said Lamoureux.

“Putting that out into the world was important, and I think it was important for the students to feel that their identity was important. Some of the kids wore their orange shirts.

“But it’s not a one-and-done for us. This is work we will continue, because it’s critical and we’re really trying to work to Indigenize education.”

Many of the parents and grandparents who attended on Thursday are residential school survivors, Lamoureux said.

“The fact that they wanted to be involved – not speaking for them, but, to me, that felt meaningful.”


17:08 – Charles spent some time gazing at Great Slave Lake and is now strolling down toward the Rotary Park boardwalk. Here’s a short video that gives you a sense of the surrounding hubbub.


16:52 – “As an Aboriginal, some have different feelings,” said George Mackenzie, the former Tłı̨chǫ grand chief, discussing the royal visit on Thursday afternoon. Asked if a royal apology would be appreciated, he said yes. “There’s lots and lots of history. An apology would be right.”


16:48 – If they’re out of here by 6:45pm I’ll eat my commemorative hat. (Are there any?)

At Rotary Park, there are the familiar “road closed” signs that will serve as a backdrop to the world for a discussion of climate change and Indigenous approaches to mitigating the effects of the crisis.

There are also new plaques with information about the impact of climate change on the territory. The royal delegation is expected in about 10 minutes’ time.

Emily Blake/Cabin Radio

16:35 Action is expected at Rotary Park imminently, where Charles, having briefly taken part in a Canadian Rangers ceremony, will discuss the impacts of climate change on the North.

Here’s how the ice road and Rotary Park look today. Note, for readers who don’t live here, that there is not supposed to be an ice road at this time of year. It having half melted away is entirely normal for May. The ice road season is, however, generally shortening owing to the effects of climate change.

Rotary Park’s boardwalk heads out toward houseboats on Yellowknife Bay. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio
The remnants of the ice road. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

16:00 – There looks to be some movement over at the motorcade. Chances are we’re relocating shortly. In the meantime, here’s the ceremony in Dettah earlier this afternoon as recorded by the prince’s own social media crew. (Somebody needs to tell them about Ndilǫ.)


15:45 – Coming in surprisingly high on the list of videos you didn’t think you needed to see but actually sure why not, here’s Prince Charles taking part in a drum dance.


15:40 – The Globe and Mail reports that Saháį?a Talbot gave Prince Charles a bit of a lecture on the importance of education as he landed earlier this afternoon.

The newspaper says Saháį?a – a Dettah student selected to help greet the royals at the airport – was “excited but nervous” for the opportunity.

The paper added: Prince Charles joked that she must be happy to get out of class for the day. No, she told him, somewhat aghast by the suggestion. “I like school.”


15:33 – The ice road might be open again by the time Charles gets to it.


15:29 – Back at the Chief Drygeese Centre, Charles continues to talk with the chiefs elsewhere in the building. You can just start to see one or two of the security officials beginning to realize the schedule threatens to rapidly unravel. Dene National Chief Gerald Antoine can be overheard explaining Treaty 11 to a British reporter.


15:24 – Meanwhile, Camilla has arrived at Kaw Tay Whee School and is receiving a lesson from young students in the Wılıı̀deh language.


15:20 – The hand games demonstration continues while Prince Charles meets with the chiefs. (I don’t know about you but I’m already nervous for this four-hour schedule, they might find time doesn’t always work that way in the NWT.) Charles is reported to have said “I see this is where it all happens” as he sat down at a large, round table for that discussion.

Also in attendance here in Dettah: Tłı̨chǫ Grand Chief Jackson Lafferty, Dene National Chief Gerald Antoine, Chief of the Kátł’odeeche First Nation April Martel, Commissioner of the NWT Margaret Thom, Gwich’in Tribal Council Grand Chief Ken Kyikavichik, Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh MLA Richard Edjericon, and Chief Wilbert Kochon of Colville Lake’s Behdzi Ahda First Nation. (Apologies if we missed anyone out.)


15:00 – A hand games demonstration is taking place.

Emily Blake/Cabin Radio

14:55 – We asked drummer Cody Drygeese how it felt to drum for the royals. “It was alright,” he said with a chuckle of understatement. “Pretty glad we got to do it here in our community. Of all the places they could have gone to, they chose to come here, and I’m glad we could welcome them the right way.”

Drygeese said he wasn’t sure what would come from the visit but was glad they were taking the time to meet with chiefs and listen to what was happening in the community.

“I hope they enjoy their stay here, as rushed as it is,” he concluded. (Charles and Camilla already have fewer than four hours left of the trip.)


14:45 – Charles talks with Chief Edward Sangris as a feeding-the-fire ceremony takes place.

Emily Blake/Cabin Radio

14:41 – Camilla takes part in a welcome ceremony in Dettah.

Emily Blake/Cabin Radio

14:36 – With the lake sparkling in the background, Chief Fred Sangris told Cabin Radio he believes this visit can have a positive impact on the Yellowknives Dene First Nation.

“It has been a long time since the royal family came to Dettah,” he said. “I was just a junior, I was still going to school. Eddie [Chief Edward Sangris] was a little older than me and his father was chief when Queen Elizabeth came here with the family.

“The last time Prince Charles was here, there were a lot of old log homes. Today, you look at it and there are different homes, we got a facelift over the years. We’ve done a lot of good work and I’m sure he will come and look and probably be surprised at the changes in the last 50 years, 45 years or something.”

“Oh yes, yes,” he said of the possibility for good to come of the trip. “It’s that time of year for us to talk to the prince on our dreams and our goals. So that’s key.”


Dettah residents await the royals. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio

14:32 – Prince Charles and Camilla have arrived in Dettah. They are being welcomed by the Chiefs of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, Premier Caroline Cochrane, an NWT council of leaders, and Dene National Chief Gerald Antoine.

There’s a feeding-the-fire ceremony coming up, then a demonstration of hide scraping and tanning by Angela Lafferty and a hand games demonstration, plus a drum dance.


14:13 – Yes, that helicopter you can hear is following the entourage toward Dettah.

Here’s the moment Prince Charles and Camilla stepped off the plane.

Dettah student Saháį?a, daughter of Shene Catholique Valpy, waited with NWT Commissioner Margaret Thom and Mayor of Yellowknife Rebecca Alty to greet the royals.

Charlotte Morritt-Jacobs/APTN

14:06 – Excited British royal reporters are getting their first taste of the Northwest Territories. Here’s the royal editor for ITV, which is essentially the British version of CTV. (Yes, British TV networks have dedicated royalty-following personnel.)


14:04 – The royal motorcade is about to roll into gear. Stop one: Dettah. (Check out the full itinerary below.) Bad news if you were just trying to drive into Yellowknife along Highway 3, as they’ve closed off the road for a minute.


13:48 – We see you over at the foot of the control tower, sneaking a crafty photo of the royal plane.


13:45 – ROYL01, the modified Airbus A310 carrying the royal delegation, has landed at Yellowknife Airport. A few minutes early, no less.


13:30 – The royal aircraft has crossed the East Arm of Great Slave Lake and is on approach to Yellowknife.


Georgina Franki outside Yellowknife's post office on May 19, 2022
Georgina Franki outside Yellowknife’s post office on May 19, 2022. Megan Miskiman/Cabin Radio

13:27 – Georgina Franki, staging a protest against the royal visit in downtown Yellowknife, said: “You have our jobs, our land, our home. What more do you want? Just help us. There’s no need to hate us.

“You took it all from us. Spare our lives. Stop the genocide of the Indigenous all across Canada and the world.”

Franki said of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall: “If we are a freak show to them, or the damage is left behind, they should not be here.” They should only come to the NWT, she said, “if they are willing to help us.”


13:05 – The Instagram poll (see 11:28) is holding steady. With more than 100 votes, Cabin Radio’s Instagram audience appears to have one monarchist for every two people who’d prefer today’s visit were not taking place.


12:49 – A small protest outside the post office in downtown Yellowknife invites the royals to leave and not come back. Meanwhile, the motorcade for Charles and Camilla is being prepared at the airport.


12:42 – The New York Times, which is also offering live updates – don’t you dare – states “workers were busy on Wednesday fishing signs marking the ice road’s seasonal closure out of melted shoreline water and regrading the alternate road that the prince and his entourage will travel.” The newspaper quotes Chief Edward Sangris of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, asked what the royal visit might achieve for the First Nation, as saying: “I don’t know what it’s going to achieve for us.”


12:36 – In fact (see 12:33), one of the perks of being on today’s Air North Yellowknife-Toronto flight is that if passengers look left in about five minutes’ time, they’ll see Prince Charles heading the other way about a thousand feet beneath them to the north.


12:33 – Reporters, eager beavers that they are, are beginning to head toward the airport. The plane is expected here by 1:50pm. Flight-tracking apps suggest the aircraft – ROYL01, as it is (genuinely) known – is just passing over the southwest tip of Nunavut and will shortly be over the NWT’s barrenlands.


12:26 – Last month, polling organization Angus Reid asked 1,607 adult Canadians (in the south) how they felt about various royals.

Of the respondents, 63 percent favourably viewed the Queen but only 29 percent favourably viewed Prince Charles.

Fifty percent said the royal family is no longer relevant at all, up from 41 percent two years earlier. Fifty-one percent said Canada should not continue as a constitutional monarchy (24 percent weren’t sure and 26 percent supported the monarchy remaining for generations to come).

Two-thirds of those surveyed either strongly or moderately opposed Prince Charles becoming the next Canadian head of state after the Queen.

We discussed monarchism in Canada (and the NWT) on Mornings at the Cabin earlier this week. Get the podcast here.


12:04 – Prior to the royals’ arrival – you’ve still got a couple of hours to get snacks in – we’ve been going through the NWT Archives’ photos of prior visits to the territory by Prince Charles.

There are photos from 1970 below. Here are a few from 1979, his last trip to the NWT.

Charles in a hangar in 1979.
Charles wth Chief Johnny Charlie of Fort McPherson. Chief Charlie passed away in 1998. An annual snowmobile trip between Old Crow and Fort McPherson is held in his honour.
An Arctic sports demonstration in 1979. There’ll be another one later this afternoon, in case he’s forgotten the rules.
The crowd outside the museum in 1979.

11:28 – The early results of a Cabin Radio Instagram poll show that, with 62 votes registered, 32 percent of voters consider the royal visit “amazing.” The reaction of the remaining 68 percent is “argh, run away.”

Cabin Radio’s Instagram demographic skews younger and female, so bear that in mind. The opinions of old guys are, for once, not yet clear. Follow us on Instagram.


11:22 – The Prince of Wales arrives in Yellowknife having just delivered remarks in Ottawa on the climate crisis.

Charles has, in fairness, been on the climate change beat longer than most. By his own estimation, he’s been speaking on the subject of sustainability for more than four decades.

In Ottawa on Wednesday he said he “rather subscribed to an outlook shared by many Indigenous peoples that we must be thinking seven generations ahead, really, to have any chance to be sure that we leave a better world behind us.”

He told an Ottawa sustainable finance roundtable the climate crisis needs a “warlike footing” and, after what he termed “endless procrastination,” governments must lead “bold, innovative and creative public-private solutions at scale if we are ever, ever to see results.”

He told delegates: “Taking the risk off the table is central to this effort. But what we must realize is that not doing so is the greatest risk of all.”

Charles has a chat with permafrost and climate experts coming up on the Yellowknife side of (what was) the Dettah ice road later this afternoon.


11:10 – The royal trip is taking place in the context of a request from AFN National Chief RoseAnne Archibald for the Queen to apologize for the conduct of the Canadian government (and, presumably, the historical conduct of the British government) and that of the Anglican Church.

The CBC reports Archibald brought up that request in conversation with Prince Charles this week. She said she found Charles to be “very empathetic.”

Opportunities for Cabin Radio to question Prince Charles on the matter today are thought, to put it mildly, to be quite limited, but the matter of an apology is one we’ll raise if the chance presents itself.


11:07 – Caroline Cochrane (the NWT premier, for those reading this page who are new to northern Canada) has tweeted a welcome to the royal couple, who are currently mid-air. “Their visit will give them a chance to see how special the North is and learn about Indigenous culture and traditions important to our identity in the NWT,” Cochrane wrote.


10:49 – There are dozens of images in the NWT Archives from previous Prince Charles visits. Check them out over here. Here are a few from 1970.


10:37 – When the plane lands, the world’s reporters will be divided into two hordes and shuttled across the region in two buses, each heading to different royal engagements (see list below, Charles and Camilla plan to split up for most of the afternoon and take part in separate activities).

Chances are many of the local reporters will ignore the buses and the accompanying stern warnings that there will be no parking anywhere, so if you work in municipal enforcement, today may be a banner day.


10:34 – The first royal engagement isn’t till around 2pm so there’s time yet to put up the decorative bunting or dig out that commemorative mug from that previous royal occasion. (Or time to head out on a very long hike, depending on your view of the situation.)

The weather here in Yellowknife is relatively bright and warm-ish, so it’s already Yellowknife 1, Ottawa 0.


10:15 – The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall have left Ottawa, where it was absolutely lashing it down with rain according to footage published by a Daily Mail reporter.

Yes, the number of British journalists in the Yellowknife area is about to increase significantly for a period of roughly seven hours. Most major UK newsrooms appear to have reporting teams on the plane.

Some 25 to 30 rooms at the Chateau Nova Hotel in Yellowknife were reserved in case news outlets and the royal delegation needed them. The territorial government and hotel have each told us they do not believe those reservations (from Wednesday onward) affected availability of room for flood evacuees earlier in the week.


10:07 – Earlier this morning, we published a guide that sets out broadly where Prince Charles and Camilla will go on Thursday afternoon. Here are the basics:

Stop 1: Dettah

Prince Charles and Camilla will attend a ceremony with a prayer, drumming and a feeding-the-fire ceremony.

Charles will then speak with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation chiefs and community Elders while Camilla goes to Kaw Tay Whee School to learn about its culturally responsive programming and language preservation efforts.

Stop 2: Fred Henne Territorial Park

Charles will celebrate the Canadian Rangers’ 75th anniversary at the park in a ceremony that sees him appointed an honorary ranger.

Stop 3: YWCA

Camilla will visit the Lynn’s Place transitional housing complex in downtown Yellowknife to hear about the YWCA’s work to offer women and children a safe, stable and affordable home.

Stop 4: The ice road (kinda)

Charles will meet with local experts (who they’ll be hasn’t been confirmed) to “discuss the impact of climate change in the Northwest Territories and the importance of Indigenous-led initiatives to address these challenges.”

Initially, this was billed as being a walk “next to the ice road.” When it was pointed out that a walk next to an ice road is quite a fraught walk in mid-May – some houseboaters have already had unexpected dunks this week, traversing to and from the mainland – officials planning the trip clarified that Charles will actually be on land next to one of the ice road’s entry points.

Stop 5: Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre

The last time Charles was in Yellowknife, in 1979, he had a museum named after him.

This time around, his trip to the museum will involve meeting “local food producers exploring innovative ways to face environmental challenges in the food production sector.”

He’ll also discuss Treaty 11’s history and legacy in the NWT and observe a demonstration of Arctic sports, while Camilla learns about traditional crafts with Indigenous artisans.

Stop 6: Ceremonial Circle that you did not previously know existed

From 6pm, there will be a celebration of the Queen’s platinum jubilee at a ceremonial circle behind the Joint Task Force North building in Yellowknife

This will include the raising of a platinum jubilee flag, a presentation of various plants and flowers to be included in an NWT platinum jubilee garden, and the unveiling of a plaque.

After that, at around 6:45pm, Charles and Camilla head back to the plane and leave Canada, ending their three-day trip.

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