IQALUIT, Nunavut — The City of Iqaluit is gearing up for the arrival of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, who are expected to land Thursday from the United Kingdom on a Canadian Forces Airbus.
The couple will begin their royal tour in the capital of Nunavut — the 18th visit to Canada for Prince Charles and the fourth for his wife Camilla — where they will be greeted by dignitaries including Gov. Gen. David Johnston and Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna.
Charles and Camilla will also receive a welcome at the legislative assembly, complete with military honours and a traditional Inuit ceremony.
The Prince of Wales is also planning to meet Thursday with groups focused on the promotion and preservation of the Inuit language, including Pirurvik — a non-government centre that bears a name meaning ”place of growth.”
But not everyone in Iqaluit will be celebrating their visit.
A number of Inuit residents struggle with poverty, depression and alcoholism, said 31-year-old Qaumariaq Inuqtaqau, adding that he believes the royals will turn a blind eye to the true depth of despair in Iqaluit.
“They’re just going to come here and wave their hands around and say, ‘We visited,’” he said in an interview Wednesday. “They don’t want to talk about the real issues.”
Inuqtaqau, a local advocate, wants to shine a light on Inuit elders and families who live in shacks and tents at the local beach without running water or electricity.
“I want them (the royals) to see what the shacks look like,” he said. “I want them to see how our elders are living. It is inhumane.”
Nushupik Kilaubuk, a 51-year-old who works in construction, said it is positive for Prince Charles and Camilla to visit the North but he doesn’t want them to see how he lives.
“It is kind of … sad,” he said.
Kilaubuk said he has been homeless for the last 10 years despite working a full-time job six days a week. He built his own shack at the beach but it doesn’t have running water or heat.
Mosha Pauloosie, a 38-year-old who also lives at the beach, said it’s up to Princes Charles and Camilla if they want to come to see grave living conditions in Iqaluit.
“People like us living like this … the whole world should see it,” he said.
After a packed schedule of events in Iqaluit, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will move on Friday to CFB Trenton and Prince Edward County in eastern Ontario.
The couple will also mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation on Parliament Hill, where Charles is expected to deliver remarks.
For his part, Inuqtaqau does not plan to join in celebrations happening across the country.
“There’s nothing to celebrate,” he said. “No jobs, no training, no housing … families, elders, babies, elders sleeping under boats and tents and unheated shacks.”