North

Northern flowers, new and familiar faces to greet Charles and Camilla in N.W.T.

Dettah Chief Edward Sangris is looking forward to shaking the prince's hand for a third time. They will hold an audience Thursday to discuss climate change, land claims and reconciliation.

The royal couple will spend a packed afternoon Thursday around Yellowknife

Stacie Smith, owner of Flowers North, making bouquets for the Royals for when they arrive. (Kate Kyle/CBC)

Dettah Chief Edward Sangris recalls shaking Prince Charles' hand twice — back when Sangris was a child, and again in 1979.

Both visits happened when Sangris's father was chief of the small Dene community near Yellowknife. On Thursday, Sangris is greeting Charles for a third time — this time, as chief himself — and having an audience with him.

On the agenda are three topics Sangris says are of key importance: climate change, land claims and reconciliation.

"We want to have this audience with him so that we have some assurance that these things that we're going to discuss with him are going to be actioned," Sangris said. "Hopefully, we can move forward and have a better future for generations to come."

Chief Edward Sangris, Dettah Yellowknives Dene First Nation Chief. Locator: Dettah. Credit Juanita Taylor CBC. (Juanita Taylor/CBC)

The royal visit will bring Charles, the Prince of Wales, and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, to the Yellowknife area for a packed afternoon on Thursday. During that time, Charles is set to spend an hour in Dettah. He'll attend a public fire-feeding ceremony, have the audience with Sangris, watch a handgame demonstration and possibly take part in a drum dance.

Camilla will visit with students at Dettah's Kaw Tay Whee School.

Dettah kids to present bouquets

Two bouquets of northern flowers will be ready Thursday, with young Dettah children expected to present them to Camilla.

Stacie Arden Smith, a Yellowknife city councillor and owner of Flowers North, is assembling those bouquets.

Smith jumped at the chance to put together the bouquets — "I'm super excited to do this," she laughed. She knew immediately what she wanted to include in the design.

The bouquets will include sweetgrass, grevillia that brings to mind the Northern barrens, collared by waxflowers that remind Smith of fireweed and wild roses, held together with a cuff of birch bark harvested locally from fallen trees.

A royal bouquet in production at Stacie Smith's Flowers North. (Kate Kyle/CBC)

"Hopefully, it'll be something completely different from what they normally get. That's the hope — they're in a new place and it's going to be unique to us," she said.

Smith noted the Arden name she's using is from her mother's side and belonged to her great-grandfather, a steward who came over from England. She has a photo of him shaking Prince Philip's hand back in the 1950s, and says her uncles met members of the royal family in the 1990s.

She herself joined the crowd waving at Kate and William when they visited the city in 2011.

"It's an honour, to be able to carry on that family tradition," she said.

'Whirlwind' afternoon

Yellowknife Mayor Rebecca Alty said the royals are in for a "whirlwind visit." Aside from spending time in Dettah, they'll be meeting with the YWCA N.W.T. to talk about Lynn's Place, and they'll meet local businesspeople and food growers as well.

They're also scheduled to mark the 75th anniversary of the Canadian Rangers by meeting members at Fred Henne Territorial Park, see the Dettah ice road and visit the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre.

Alty said most of the work for the trip was done by the federal and territorial governments, as well as the royal family's planners, but said the city is looking forward to hosting Charles and Camilla. The focus of the last week has been on the flooding in Hay River, but people are getting more excited, she said.

Yellowknife Mayor Rebecca Alty is looking forward to the royal visit. (Katie Toth/CBC News)

"[It gives] that opportunity for people around the world to see Yellowknife and learn more about it, and I think ... that the royals taking time to discuss treaty is a really important part of the visit," she said.

Closer to evening on Thursday, a public event will take place at the Ceremonial Circle in Yellowknife, behind the Joint Task Force North building.

It starts at 6:05 p.m. and will include remarks from Premier Caroline Cochrane, the raising of the Platinum Jubilee flag, a presentation from N.W.T. Commissioner Margaret Thom and a plaque unveiling to commemorate the visit.

It'll be Alty's first time meeting the royals — she's scheduled to walk Camilla from the museum to the Ceremonial Circle, a duty she hoped to learn more about on Wednesday.

"I'm looking forward to [learning more] because I would say that my etiquette is pretty rusty-slash-nonexistent," she said with a grin.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

April Hudson

Reporter

April Hudson is a digital journalist with CBC News in Yellowknife. After a career in print journalism in the N.W.T. and Alberta, she joined CBC North in 2021. You can reach her at april.hudson@cbc.ca.

With files from Kate Kyle and Juanita Taylor

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