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British Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, ended their three-day tour to Canada this week, a visit that was marked by acknowledging the plight of the country’s Indigenous community, especially past wrongs, the Canadian Press reported.
Charles’ and Camilla’s visit was part of the events for Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee and came a year after the discovery of a number of mass graves near Canada’s controversial residential schools for Indigenous children.
Following a private meeting with leaders of the Yellowknife Dene First Nation, Charles said he was deeply moved to have met survivors of the residential schools.
The British prince acknowledged the suffering of the survivors of the schools but stopped short of issuing an apology that many Indigenous leaders have demanded.
Charles implored Canadians to continue the process of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, which is one of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s major concerns, the New York Times noted.
While some Canadians and Indigenous leaders described the visit as “just another PR event,” others noted that the question of a royal apology is important and complex because royals traditionally avoid becoming involved in politics.
Still, in a country where demonstrators against the mistreatment of Indigenous people have toppled statues of British monarchs – including Elizabeth – many believed the couple should have apologized.
“It was the whole colonial power structure that was responsible for the residential school system,” Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, told the Washington Post.
Still, analysts added that their visit was well-received compared to a recent tour by Prince William and his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, to Barbados, Jamaica and the Bahamas, where they were greeted with protests, criticized for perpetuating images of colonial rule and asked for apologies and reparations for the slave trade.
In November, Barbados became the first commonwealth country in nearly three decades to renounce the queen as head of state and become a republic. Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda are considering such a move, the Post said.