Royal wel­come

DUKE AND DUCHESS OF CAM­BRIDGE MEET WITH SYR­IAN REFUGEES IN VAN­COU­VER DUR­ING ROYAL TOUR OF B.C.

StarMetro Vancouver - - NEWS - Wanyee Li

Thou­sands of peo­ple caught a glimpse of the Duke and Duchess of Cam­bridge as the pair toured Van­cou­ver on Sun­day, but a hand­ful of fam­i­lies were lucky enough to have the chance to tell the royal cou­ple their sto­ries.

Prince Wil­liam and Kate Mid­dle­ton paid a visit to the Im­mi­grant Ser­vices So­ci­ety Wel­come Cen­tre in East Van­cou­ver af­ter first greet­ing the ador­ing crowds at Jack Poole Plaza and drop­ping by the She­way Preg­nancy Out­reach Pro­gram in the Down­town East­side on Sun­day morn­ing.

Prime Min­is­ter Trudeau and So­phie Gré­goire Trudeau greeted the royal cou­ple at the en­trance of the newly opened wel­come cen­tre be­fore they walked in to­gether. The Duchess was wear­ing a red-and-white pat­terned dress by the late Bri­tish de­signer Alexan­der McQueen.

“(Prince Wil­liam) asked us where we were from and heard about our ex­pe­ri­ence and then he wel­comed us into Canada,” said Alaa Alma­hameed, who ar­rived in Canada in Au­gust with his wife and two young daugh­ters as a Syr­ian refugee.

“It was the great­est ex­pe­ri­ence,” he told Metro, with the help of trans­la­tor Mo­ham­mad Alsaleh.

The royal cou­ple lis­tened to each fam­ily’s sto­ries care­fully, said Alsaleh, a for­mer Syr­ian refugee who trans­lated their words for the duke and duchess.

“They were so com­pas­sion­ate and so un­der­stand­ing and at­ten­tive to de­tails. And at the same time they were cau­tious not to bring any bad mem­o­ries to the fam­i­lies and they were so con­sid­er­ate,” he said.

The royal cou­ple started their day at Jack Poole Plaza, ar­riv­ing in a float­plane from Vic­to­ria, their home base dur­ing this tour. They took a few min­utes to shake hands with the peo­ple who had braved the rain to see them. The crowds cheered and cried “Kate! Kate!” as the royal cou­ple made their way to­ward the con­voy that would whisk them around the city.

The cou­ple made a brief stop at the She­way preg­nancy out­reach pro­gram in the Down­town East­side, lis­ten­ing to sev­eral moth­ers’ sto­ries about the im­pact colo­nial­ism had on First Na­tion fam­i­lies be­fore head­ing to ISS of BC.

Then they went back to down­town Van­cou­ver for a re­cep­tion for young Cana­di­ans be­fore vis­it­ing the newly ren­o­vated Kit­si­lano Coast Guard Sta­tion to meet first re­spon­ders.

The cou­ple will re-join their chil­dren, Prince Ge­orge and Princess Char­lotte, in Vic­to­ria be­fore head­ing off to Bella Bella.

JEN­NIFER GAUTHIER METRO

The Duke and Duchess of Cam­bridge ar­rive at the Im­mi­grant Ser­vices So­ci­ety of B.C. wel­come cen­tre in Van­cou­ver Sun­day with Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau and So­phie Gré­goire Trudeau.

Jen­nifer Gauthier/Metro

Mo­hammed Asaleh of the ISSBC, right, trans­lated for Alaa and Yossra Alma­hameed with daugh­ters Reemas and Ree­taj and the duke and duchess.

JONATHAN HAYWARD/THE CANADIAN PRESS

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