Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content



Royal couple visits Vancouver pregnancy outreach program Add to ...

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made stops centred around substance use, refugee resettlement and mental health when their tour of British Columbia took them to Vancouver on Sunday.

Upon arriving by seaplane in Coal Harbour, Prince William and his wife, Catherine, were taken to Sheway, a pregnancy outreach program in the city’s Downtown Eastside. The facility, which provides health and social services to marginalized women who are either pregnant or have young children, was modelled after Glasgow Women’s Reproductive Health Service Unit, which Prince William’s mother, Diana, toured during its opening in 1990.

Prince William and Catherine meet Vancouver mothers battling addiction (CP Video)

In photos: Day 2 of the Royal Visit

Read more: Where’s William? Your guide to the royal visit to Western Canada

Read more: Royals step into the Great Bear

The Duke and Duchess spoke with mothers at Sheway about their experiences and received stuffed teddy bears from the children.

Cameo Hydrochuck, 28, a mother, said the couple was down to earth and “just like real people.” She said she felt blessed and excited to meet them and have the opportunity to show the world that there are positive stories emerging from the Downtown Eastside.

“There’s a lot of people doing new things, a lot of people that are doing very well out here, and they need to see that. People need to see that,” Ms. Hydrochuck said. “I think it’s neat that they’re seeing real people and meeting new people that are changing their lives and making a big difference.”

Jordanna Coleman, another Sheway client, said her three-month-old pooped upon the royal couple’s arrival, necessitating a quick change of clothes.

“Prince William said, ‘They always have the best timing, don’t they?’” she said afterward with a laugh.

Sheway manager Patti Zettel said the Duke and Duchess’s visit was “a testament to the Royal Family’s multi-generational interest and support for these programs,” and called Sunday’s tour “very much a full-circle moment.”

At the Immigrant Services Society of B.C.’s new welcome centre, the couple met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, Premier Christy Clark and several refugee families.

Mr. Trudeau spoke about his government’s efforts to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees, but said the “real story” was the Canadians who volunteered their time at organizations such as ISSofBC and families across the country who sponsored refugees. Prince William nodded as he listened to the Prime Minister.

ISSofBC CEO Patricia Woroch said the visit was an opportunity to showcase the society’s unique support services. She is particularly proud of its Multicultural Youth Circle (MY Circle) program, for example, which provides training and support to immigrant children and refugees who face issues such as social isolation, trauma, racism, family conflict and communication barriers.

“We’ve gone through about 63 [80-hour-long] trainings to date, and about 1,000 young people,” Ms. Woroch said. “We’re hoping that we’ll get attention from other agencies not only in Canada, but throughout the world, to look at this as a model for what they might want to do. We’re very keen to share our expertise and knowledge.”

Prince William asked a refugee from Afghanistan about how the society had benefited him, and the refugee replied that it helped him get into a technology course so he could learn new skills.

The day concluded with a tour of the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station, which the Liberal government reopened this spring three years after it was closed by the previous Conservative government. There, the Duke and Duchess, Mr. Trudeau, Ms. Grégoire Trudeau and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson spoke with first responders about mental health.

Roger Girouard, assistant commissioner for the Canadian Coast Guard’s western region, was among those at the roundtable discussion. He said Prince William, who served as an air ambulance pilot for the Royal Air Force, was highly engaged and intimately aware of the topic.

“His Royal Highness, of course, is a search and rescue pilot. It was a topic that meant something to him,” Mr. Girouard said afterward. “Of course, he saw the impact on folks that he was working with, and victims when he was out doing his rescues.”

Report Typo/Error

Follow on Twitter: @andreawoo

Next story




Most popular videos »

More from The Globe and Mail

Most popular