DUKE AND DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE MEET WITH SYRIAN REFUGEES IN VANCOUVER DURING ROYAL TOUR OF B.C.
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.
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.
Mohammed Asaleh of the ISSBC, right, translated for Alaa and Yossra Almahameed with daughters Reemas and Reetaj and the duke and duchess.