Toronto – When Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, arrived in Canada on Tuesday to embark on a royal tour to commemorate the seven decades of Queen Elizabeth II on the throne, they will face the painful and lasting legacy of the British colony and empire.
Canada has been battling the discovery for the past year of evidence of unmarked graves on or near the sites of government-funded, church-run schools. Indigenous people in the early 19th century In many cases children were forcibly taken from their families to boarding schools where they were not allowed to speak their mother tongue or practice their culture. The last residential school closed in the 1990s. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada concluded in 2015 that the measure was considered a “cultural genocide.”
Charles and Camilla The itinerary, which will take them to Ottawa and the Northwest Territories, includes visiting the indigenous community to learn about their language preservation efforts, in addition to the Inuktitut, a prayer to Mikmak music, a fire ceremony, and a more standard royal. Travel fares, such as ceremonies at the capital’s National War Memorial.
“There are moments in this tour that are traditional,” said Carolyn Harris, an instructor at the University of Toronto and a royal historian.
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Clarence House said the visit would “emphasize learning from indigenous peoples.” But in a country where protests against aboriginal abuse in recent years have shattered the image of British kings – including Elizabeth and her grandmother, Queen Victoria – some want more.
“It was the whole colonial power structure that was responsible for the residential school system,” said Grand Chief Stuart Philippe, president of the British Columbia Indian Chiefs’ Union. “I think they should apologize.”
Cassidy Caron, president of the Metis National Council, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that during the visit he planned to tell Charles in an engagement that he would apologize to his mother, who is the Queen of Canada and its head of state, in her order.
The visit comes at a critical time for the royal family, as Elizabeth, 96, threatens to cast a shadow over the twilight of her reign and a number of royal headaches – foreign and domestic – celebrating her platinum jubilee.
Prince Harry, who stepped down from royal duties last year, plans to release a “close” memoir this year. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, the queen’s grandson and his bisexual wife, Meghan, said an unnamed member of the royal family asked questions about the skin color of their unborn child.
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Elizabeth’s second son, Prince Andrew, settled a sexual assault case in February brought by a woman who alleged he was trafficked to her by financier Jeffrey Epstein and had sex with him two decades ago, when he was 17 years old.
In November, Barbados became the first Commonwealth state in nearly three decades to remove the queen as its head of state and declare itself a republic, providing potential inspiration. The 15 remaining regions, especially in the Caribbean, are among the larger counts on colonization, partly inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement.
During a rocky royal visit to the Caribbean this year, family members faced apologies and calls for compensation for the slave trade, and photos of the royal family echoed an imperial past that critics said was tearful and out of touch.
Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness told the Queen’s grandson Prince William and his wife Catherine in March That island state Will “continue” at one stage. Their tour has protested at several stops; A planned inspection of a cocoa farm in Belize has failed amid local opposition.
When Prince Edward, the Queen’s third son and his wife, Sophie, visited Antigua and Barbuda in April, the prime minister told them he wanted to be a “republic at some point” – even if it was “not in the cards” at the moment, citing local officials. The pair have “postponed” the Grenada tour.
Visits have raised questions about the place of the monarchy in the Commonwealth and whether royal visits should still be meaningful or re-imagined.
Harris said Canada was generally a “friendly” destination for the royal family. But while the queen still commands honor in the country, even among non-monarchists, Charles, his first son and heir to the throne, is less popular. She The huge crowd that greeted him and Princess Diana in the 1980s no longer appeals.
Surveys here show declining support for the country, which remains a constitutional monarchy, especially during Charles’s reign as king. But severing that relationship would be a complex process, requiring a constitutional amendment backed by both houses of parliament and the 10 provincial legislatures.
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“It is unlikely that a politician would choose his career on the issue of reopening the constitution to transition from a monarchy to a republic,” Harris said. “One of the things that is most likely to happen in the twenty-first century is our lack of visibility for the royal family.”
Such a move would require a re-opening or reopening agreement between the Crown and the aborigines.
Members of the royal family have met with tribal leaders here during their many visits to Canada.
In 1970, on a 10-day visit, an aboriginal leader welcomed Elizabeth to the fact that in the century her ancestors signed a treaty with Queen Victoria, “the promise of peace and harmony, social progress and equality of opportunity has not been realized. By our people.”
David Korchen of the Manitoba Indian Brotherhood said, “We are hopeful that your Majesty’s representatives will now … acknowledge the inequalities of the past and take steps to remedy the treatment of the Indian people in Manitoba.”
During a royal visit in 2017 to mark the centenary of the Canadian Confederation, Charles and Camilla were criticized for bursting into laughter during a performance by Inuit vocal singers in Iqaluit.
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During their visit to Canada in 2016, William and Kate were greeted by a large crowd – which would “help Canada’s First Nations communities celebrate.” But a number of prominent tribal leaders turned down an invitation to a reunion in British Columbia’s Victoria – a provincial capital named after the British king.
Chief among them was Philip. He said such tours “whitewash the brutality of the colonial experience with the aborigines.”
“In my opinion, these are just great photo ops,” he said. “It simply came to our notice then. There is no attempt to fix it. “