Royals endorse Great Bear Rainforest as part of Queen's Commonwealth Canopy

Prince William has endorsed the Great Bear Rainforest on B.C.'s Central Coast under the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy initiative.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark announces $1M trust for forest

Britain's Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend a cultural sharing ceremony at the Wawiskas Community Hall during their eight day royal tour to Canada in Bella Bella, British Columbia, Canada, September 26, 2016. (Kevin Light/Reuters)

Prince William has endorsed the Great Bear Rainforest on B.C.'s central coast under the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy initiative. 

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were in the area to experience Indigenous culture in the small First Nation community of Bella Bella, along with B.C. Premier Christy Clark, who announced a $1-million trust will be created to celebrate the royal visit and to promote the unique landscape.

The Queen's Canopy Commonwealth initiative was launched in 2015 to create a network of forest conservation programs involving all 53 countries in the Commonwealth. As part of the network, regions can share ideas and innovations about forest conservation and receive global attention for their efforts.

A Kermode bear, better known as the spirit bear, is seen fishing in the Riordan River on Gribbell Island in the Great Bear Rainforest. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

"The establishment of the canopy is a loud and unambiguous statement ... that nature is fundamental to the health of our societies," Prince William said on Monday.

"When we protect our rivers, oceans, atmospheres and forests, we are telling our children that our future prosperity cannot be disconnected from the health of the natural world."

More than 15 countries aside from Canada have already joined the global network of forests. By 2018, all remaining Commonwealth countries are expected to join.

"Other Commonwealth countries will benefit from sharing the knowledge and expertise you have gained by working together with First Nations, industry and environmental organizations to establish the unique forestry program," Prince William added.

New $1M fund

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge greet native elders in Bella Bella, B.C., on Monday as their royal visit to Canada continues. (Johnathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

The new fund will help raise awareness about the Great Bear Rainforest and support ongoing research, the provincial government said in a statement.

Clark said the fund would also go towards developing teacher and student resources centred on the Great Bear Rainforest that's aligned to B.C.'s school curriculum and resource management. 

"It's a global treasure, one that we have a unique responsibility to protect, and to make sure the world knows how unique and valuable it is," she said.

Early this year, the province and the Coast First Nations, including the Heiltsuk, announced they would increase protection of the area, conserving 85 per cent of the forested areas from industrial logging.

Stormy weather

Stormy West Coast weather scuttled Prince William and Kate's plans for an aerial tour of the Great Bear Rainforest, as Environment Canada was forecasting heavy rain and southeast winds of up to 70 km/h.

An afternoon boat tour was also cancelled.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark snapped this picture of Prince William and Kate dashing through the rain in Bella Bella this morning, after the weather forced them to change their plans. (Christy Clark/Twitter)
The Duchess of Cambridge arrives in Bella Bella, B.C., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016 as their royal visit to Canada continues. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The royal couple were not accompanied by their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, who are staying at Government House in Victoria for the duration of the family's eight-day visit.

2 historic staffs at ceremonies today

There is a second ceremony involving First Nations and historic staff on the royal itinerary Monday evening reception at Government House hosted by the B.C. government.

The Black Rod used in the B.C. Legislature will get a new ring of reconciliation at a royal ceremony with Prince William. But Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs' Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says he won't be participating in the Monday evening event. (B.C. Legislature)

But the grand chief of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, Stewart Phillip, won't be in Victoria when William takes part in the Black Rod ceremony to add a ring of reconciliation to a ceremonial staff.

The Black Rod is used in the legislature when the Queen or lieutenant-governor is present. It has its origins in the British Parliament and is used in Commonwealth countries around the world.

But Monday morning, Phillip issued a statement saying that given the current state of relations between First Nations in B.C. and the provincial and federal government, it would be inappropriate for him to participate in a reconciliation ceremony.

With files from The Canadian Press