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Yellowknife Gears Up for Royals

The Northwest Territories are gearing up for the arrival of royal newlyweds Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as they visit aboriginal sites on their first international trip as a married couple.

Arriving on the evening of July 4, the royal couple will overnight in Yellowknife, then are scheduled to spend a full day of events on the fifth learning about the aboriginal peoples of the region.

The British royal couple have “fallen in love” with Canada, Miguel Head, the royals’ press secretary told the Canadian Press. Even protests that greeted them on their arrival in Quebec were just part of the rich fabric that makes up the country, they said.

Already the two have taken a cooking class in Montreal taught by students, among them a youth from Iqaluit, CBC News reported. Aboriginal leaders and the premier of Yukon will welcome the royal couple, according to CBC News, after which the two will check out a series of aboriginal athletic events, observe a youth parliament event that will report to William and meet with Canadian Rangers at Blachford Lodge, a seaplane ride away.

Then they will head to the Dechinta Centre on Blachford Lake, which offers accredited courses in off-the-grid living by way of preserving aboriginal cultures, life and languages, Marketwatch.com reported.

Activities there will include moose-hide tanning and fish drying.

The center works to build “dynamic, sustainable and self-determining Northern communities where human capacity is rooted in indigenous knowledge and values,” the center’s website says.

Such meetings go beyond the pomp and circumstance, though. Canada’s aboriginals have a special relationship to the Crown, as the Calgary Herald reported.

As Anita Olsen Harper, wife of the aboriginal leader Elijah Harper, noted in the Calgary Herald, Canada’s initial treaties with First Nations were between the Crown and the aboriginal peoples, and the current incarnation of Canadian government had nothing to do with it.

“Treaties were then signed during the 19th century between the British Crown and the indigenous peoples; they are the basis for the special ties that are represented by Britain’s royal family,” Anita Olsen Harper wrote. “These treaties, contrary to former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s dismissal of them in 1969 as irrelevant in the present day, are still at the very heart of Canada’s constitutional infrastructure.”

She puts that into context with a quote from her husband.

“It is of paramount importance to recognize and constitutionalize the true relationship of First Nations—one based on the intent and spirit of the treaties,” Elijah Harper is fond of saying, according to his wife’s piece. “Parliament, the supreme law-making authority, cannot delegate the inherent governing and sovereignty of First Nations when the very act of treaty signing was an expression of that sovereignty. When that happens, we can truly celebrate Canada Day as equals.”

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