VANCOUVER – The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were scheduled for a busy first-time trip to Vancouver on Sunday, meeting with First Nations, young people, refugees and first responders.
The couple’s charitable efforts to support mental health awareness are reflected in a number of events on their itinerary.
After arriving by sea plane where the public gets a chance to catch a first glimpse of the couple, Prince William and his wife Kate tour Sheway, a pregnancy outreach program that provides health and social services for women dealing with drug and alcohol issues in the city’s poorest neighbourhood, the Downtown Eastside.
The couple have been advocates for mental health services in the United Kingdom.
They launched a mental health campaign called Heads Together in the U.K. earlier this year to reduce the stigma around mental illness and raise funds for support services.
More than half of the women who receive support from Sheway identify as aboriginal. The program incorporates First Nations cultural practices into its services to address the particular challenges aboriginal women experience.
Later, the royal couple visit the Immigrant Services Society and meet representatives who work with refugees.
Following a tour of a new welcome centre for immigrants and refugees, the royal couple host a reception at the Telus Garden, which gives them an opportunity to meet and honour young Canadians who are making important contributions to their communities.
The day’s events are capped off with a visit to the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station.
The royal couple will meet with members of the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue, North Shore Rescue, and other emergency services to discuss their work and the mental health challenges first responders can experience as a result of the job.
William and Kate were received by huge cheering crowds outside the B.C. legislature for the official welcoming ceremony on Saturday in Victoria.
Their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, were not part of the official welcome and are not expected to play a major public role during the eight-day visit to B.C. and Yukon.
Some lined up for hours to see William and Kate at the legislature.
Katherine Pitt turned up before sunrise to get a front-row seat to the event, armed with a picnic blanket, food and an iPad loaded with the last season of the historical drama “Downton Abbey.”
“We’re big fans of the royal family,” said the native of Victoria.
Pitt said her interest stems from the pageantry and history of the royals.
“We’re ordinary and they’re not,” she said. “They’re basically celebrities. They have this long history of kings and queens, and I just love it. It’s fascinating.”
In his speech, William spoke of the trip’s focus on causes he and Kate care about.
“Catherine and I have asked to meet as many people from as many walks of life as we can while we’re here,” he said.
“We’re very much looking forward to learning about how Canadians are tackling some of the biggest challenges of the day including the environment, supporting young families and the mental health of young people — subjects about which we are both passionate.”
The tour will also take the royal couple to Bella Bella, Haida Gwaii and Kelowna in British Columbia as well as Whitehorse and Carcross in Yukon.