Prince Charles, Camilla kick-off 3-day tour of Canada

Queen's official representative in Canada urges royal couple to 'learn truth' about residential schools

2022-05-17 22:41:29


The British royal couple arrived Tuesday in Canada and Governor General Mary Simon, the Queen's official representative in Canada, urged them to "speak to Indigenous peoples ... to learn the truth about our history."

Simon, an Indigenous Inuit, was referring to Indian Residential Schools and Prince Charles, accompanied by his wife Camilla, was well aware of the tainted history where 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend one of the 139 schools beginning in the 1800s.

"I know that our visit here this week comes at an important moment, with Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples across Canada committing to reflect honestly and openly on the past, and to forge a new relationship for the future," said Charles in remarks celebrating the couple's arrival in the province of Newfoundland.

Some Indigenous leaders have urged the monarchy to apologize for its role in the schools -- Canada was a British colony until 1867 -- but Charles made no mention of it.

During the arrival ceremony, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not answer a reporter's question about the apology but said he hoped the couple would use the trip to hear from "all sorts of Canadians from different backgrounds."

But federal New Democrat Party Leader Jameet Singh said he backed the call for an apology. It is estimated that 4,300 deaths occurred in the schools and Indigenous communities are now searching for unmarked graves at former school sites and have uncovered about 2,000 since 2021.

Some have questioned whether the ties with the monarchy our outdated but Trudeau said many Canadians backed the monarchy and were happy with the royal visit by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.

"I know this will mean a lot to people here," said Trudeau. "As we look at challenges facing our democratic institutions around the world, I think we can be very pleased we have such a stable system."

Charles and Camilla will visit the Canadian capital of Ottawa on Wednesday and Yellowknife and Dettah in the Northwest Territories on Thursday.

This is Charles' 19th visit to Canada.