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Queen in Canada for hockey and horses

Oct. 4, 2002 at 5:14 PM   |   Comments

IQALUIT, NUNAVUT, Ontario, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- IQALUIT, Nunavut -- The Canadian Arctic gave Queen Elizabeth II a frosty welcome Friday as she began a 12-day tour of Canada to celebrate her Golden Jubilee year. The aboriginal people greeting her were anything but cold.

Steady wind and light snow swirled about as the Queen and her husband, Charles, Duke of Edinburgh paid their fourth visit to Canada newest territory's legislature. Nunavut was founded in 1999.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien and the regal representative, Governor General Adrienne Clarkson were among the dignitaries attending the ceremony in the capital of 6,200 people.

From the Speaker's chair, the Queen referred to the aboriginals' long history in the northlands.

"You have created harmony with the environment, one which you regard as a gift to be cherished and not an inheritance to be squandered," she said.

Just a day earlier, work crews had scrambled to pave roads and erect the city's first-ever street signs.

The royal party then departed south to British Columbia's capital, Victoria, named for the Queen's grandmother.

Officers from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Ottawa and elsewhere throughout the country are travelling in advance and with the royal cortege, but security details are not being discussed.

In observance of her 50 years of rule, the Queen's Canadian tour will travel across the country to New Brunswick, and conclude October 15 in the nation's capital, Ottawa.

The most unlikely -- and unprecedented -- event scheduled takes place Saturday night in Vancouver, where the Queen will drop the ceremonial first puck in a National Hockey League game face-off. A red carpet will be rolled to center ice, and the gloved monarch will make history before a capacity crowd of 18,422 fans gathered to see the Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks. She will be accompanied by Canadian hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.

The U.S. all-sports network, ESPN was so fascinated by the story, a producer called the Vancouver team's media relations staff, and requested an interview with the Queen. The request was politely declined.

No other events were scheduled for Saturday.

While no protests are anticipated anywhere in the country, there was a political snub from Quebec.

Unlike all other provinces and territories, Quebec did not issue a formal invitation for a state visit, so only a brief, "unofficial" black-tie dinner party on Oct. 13 is planned in Gatineau, Quebec.

The leader of the federal separatist party Bloc Quebecois, Gilles Duceppe said he doesn't feel the Queen represents anything for Quebec.

"We certainly recognize the Queen of England, but as the Queen of Canada, we don't recognize her authority," Duceppe said earlier in the week.

A deep affinity between royalty and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will be acknowledged October 14, when the Queen will present a horse from the Royal Stables to the force in Ottawa. The RCMP have made gifts of three horses since 1969 to the Queen, an avid horsewoman who stopped riding publicly in the mid 1980s.

Her first visit to Canada was in 1951 as a princess, when she said she held the country in special regard for "making her feel very much at home." During World War II, Canada offered the royal family refuge, which King George VI and his wife, the Queen Mother declined, vowing never to leave their people. The Queen's second son Andrew, also received his post secondary schooling in Lakefield, Ontario, northeast of Toronto in the 1980s.

This visit is the Queen's 20th to Canada since her coronation in 1952. She and Prince Philip will return to England from the tour.

Topics: Charles Duke
© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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