Prince Charles and Camilla arrive in Winnipeg
Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall to spend 27 hours in Manitoba capital
Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, have arrived in Winnipeg, where they will spend about 27 hours in Manitoba's capital.
After spending two days in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, the couple departed for Winnipeg on Tuesday afternoon and arrived shortly before 6 p.m. CT to grey skies, drizzle and cool temperatures.
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They were greeted by Lt.-Gov. Philip Lee and his wife, Anita Lee, as well as Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger, Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz and several federal and provincial politicians.
The royal couple then attended an hour-long reception at Government House, where they met guests including hockey great Wayne Gretzky and Jennifer Jones, whose curling team won gold at the Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Charles and Camilla also met young people and members of the city's business, arts, philanthropy and aboriginal communities.
During the reception, Charles spoke with Selinger about some projects in Winnipeg's inner city, including an initiative on Selkirk Avenue that has the support of Prince's Charities Canada.
The Selkirk Avenue project will involve redeveloping the former Merchants Hotel into a mixed-use building that will include affordable housing units.
The provincial government purchased the property for $1.3 million in 2012 and is working with community groups to develop the site.
Global spotlight on Winnipeg
The visit will shine a global spotlight on Winnipeg, according to Darcie von Axelstierna with the Manitoba branch of the Monarchist League of Canada.
“There will be media from all over the world covering his visit and Manitoba will become known to some people that hadn't heard of it before.”
Though the visit is just 27 hours, the royal couple will cover a lot of ground.
Charles will then head to theAssiniboine Park Zoo to feed Hudson, one of the polar bears at the zoo's Journey to Churchill exhibit, with a special pair of feeding tongs.
"How could it not be the highlight of his life? What better thing can a prince do than feed a polar bear?" said Brian Joseph, the zoo's director of zoological operations.
Camilla will watch a demonstration of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, while Charles will visit Place Bernadette Poirier for a reception marking the opening of the facility.
Then on Wednesday afternoon, the Fort Garry Horse army reserve will be giving Charles six "Winnie the Bear" dolls clad in military uniforms at the Assiniboine Park Conservatory. Charles will also take in the Winnie the Pooh Gallery at the Pavilion Gallery Museum.
Together, the royal pair will take part in an Order of Manitoba ceremony at the Manitoba Legislature, where the prince will make a speech, before they leave Canada from 17 Wing Canadian Forces Base Winnipeg on Wednesday night.
Aboriginal leaders to press Charles on treaty issues
During their stop in Winnipeg, the couple will also meet with aboriginal leaders, who will press Charles on treaty and environmental issues.
"I have a responsibility with raising it with him, and that's what I'll do," said Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.
Canada's aboriginal peoples have had a special relationship with the Crown dating back to the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which has long been viewed as a bill of rights for indigenous people in this part of North America.
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In 1977, Charles was honoured with a Kainai chieftainship, a ceremonial title bestowed by the Blood Tribe in southern Alberta to those who advocate for all First Nations people.
He met with aboriginal leaders in 2012 after they complained about the slow pace of treaty negotiations with the federal government.
"I would have to look at him as an ally, recognizing that we came together in a treaty-based relationship with the Crown, and that's who represents it here, you know, as he makes his way through his Canadian visit," Nepinak said of Charles.
While the prince is known as an environmentalist, some aboriginal-rights activists and academics argue that he hasn't been doing enough.
"He should know the major issues on the environment in the country are the pipelines," said Niigaan Sinclair, an assistant professor in native studies at the University of Manitoba.
"He should be advocating to larger bodies like the federal government."
Sinclair added that he would like to see Charles take a strong stand against the Alberta oilsands.
With files from The Canadian Press and the CBC's Karen Pauls