Parnell: Royals leave indigenous leader hanging; thanks for nothing

On a tour of Kelowna, Royal couple fails to address First Nation's leader who urges true reconciliation

Capital News reporter Kevin Parnell.

When you can arrive in a foreign country like a rock star, with thousands upon thousands of people literally climbing all over each other to even get a glimpse of you, that’s true power.

That’s the kind of power and influence normally associated with celebrity, certain politicians, world leaders. People with great influence. And that’s the kind of power and influence people who come from the Royal family hold over many who live in Commonwealth countries.

Okanagan Nation’s plea to advocate for true reconciliation ignored by Royals; BC Premier

‘The Queen is our head of state,’ people will tell you if you happen to inquire about the relevance of a family that comes from somewhere across the sea and what they mean to Canada.

Well if the Queen is the head of state, then our problems certainly fall at her feet and at the feet of people who represent her.

For instance, if members of the Royal family told us that we had better start treating our First Nation’s people with respect and clean up the mess made by our (their) forefathers maybe some people might be influenced to change their thinking.

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Well Prince William and his lovely wife Kate (she’s not a princess, I’m told) had the chance to be game-changers in this regard, or at least players in the game. People who don’t mind getting their hands dirty. People who might be able to make positive change in the countries that so admire them.

And so there it was on Tuesday at UBC Okanagan, on the traditional territory of the Okanagan Nation Alliance; a golden opportunity for the handsome Duke of Cambridge to grab onto an issue and make a statement. Thousands of young minds were waiting to hear something, anything. But instead there was nothing.

Penticton Indian Band Chief Jonathan Kruger welcomed the Prince and the Duchess to B.C., telling them to enjoy the beautiful land and the gifts they receive, before ending his summations with a plea to the power couple.

“I will leave you with a few words about reconciliation,” said Kruger. “True reconciliation involves the Crown, the federal government, the provincial governments and the indigenous people in this land. True power is the human spirit. Please use this power to advocate for true reconciliation and advocate for the indigenous people in this country so we can all be great and good.”

Please use your power to advocate for reconciliation. It was a pretty simple request.

Up next to the podium was B.C. Premier Christy Clark who said zero about any kind of reconciliation. Beaming ear-to-ear as she walked beside the Royal couple, she had nothing to add, ignoring what the chief said.

And the Royal couple did not speak to it either. For everyone had to get into the gym to watch a volleyball game. And how is that for priorities? I wonder how the Penticton chief felt after his plea fell on deaf ears? Or is he just used to being ignored by white people with money? It’s only been happening to his people since they first saw white people—some surely representatives of the Queen—arrive on their land.

Now, I know we’re all supposed to be googoo-gaga over this Royal couple and their visit to Kelowna. And aren’t they just the best looking Prince and partner anyone has ever laid eyes on?

But it would have been nice if they had acknowledged what Penticton chief Kruger had said. Or even better, if they had advocated for change. Thousands of students were there. Our leaders of the future. Wouldn’t that have been great for them to hear a word about respecting our indigenous people, making wrongs of the past right.

But no, that didn’t happen.

This trip cost taxpayers a lot of money to bring the Royals to Kelowna. It would have been nice had they done something a little outside the box. Something that could have made a difference in this country. Anything but silently stand by like so many white people have done for too many years.

Shame on them and thanks for nothing.

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