News / Vancouver

Royal visit: Prince William and Kate meet Syrian refugee families

The royal couple had a busy day in Vancouver that started at Jack Poole Plaza and ended at the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station

(left to right) The Duchess and Duke of Cambridge walk toward the Immigrant Services Society of B.C. centre with Sophie Gregoire and her husband, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the royal visit to Vancouver on Sept. 25, 2016.

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(left to right) The Duchess and Duke of Cambridge walk toward the Immigrant Services Society of B.C. centre with Sophie Gregoire and her husband, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the royal visit to Vancouver on Sept. 25, 2016.

Thousands of people caught a glimpse of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as the pair toured Vancouver 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 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 Duke and Duchess of Cambridge flew into Vancouver on a floatplane Sept 25, 2016.

Jennifer Gauthier/Metro

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge flew into Vancouver on a floatplane Sept 25, 2016.

“[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 ISS of BC resettlement counsellor Mohammed Alsaleh.

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Syrian refugees Yossra Almahameed, Alaa Almahameed, and their daughters  Reemas and Reetaj sit next to Mohammad Alsaleh (right) who translated their words to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Jennifer Gauthier/Metro

Syrian refugees Yossra Almahameed, Alaa Almahameed, and their daughters Reemas and Reetaj sit next to Mohammad Alsaleh (right) who translated their words to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

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.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark walk behind the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as they make their way toward Jack Poole Plaza.

Jennifer Gauthier/Metro

B.C. Premier Christy Clark walk behind the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as they make their way toward Jack Poole Plaza.

The crowds cheered and cried “Kate! Kate!” as the royal couple made their way toward the convoy that would whisk them around the city for the rest of the day. The Duchess wore a red-and-white patterned dress by the late British designer Alexander McQueen.

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.

The Duke of Cambridge chats with Prime Minister Trudeau as they walked on a path near the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station.

Jennifer Gauthier/Metro

The Duke of Cambridge chats with Prime Minister Trudeau as they walked on a path near the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station.

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 on Monday. 

What's next for the royals

Monday – Bella Bella and Victoria

Tuesday – Victoria and Kelowna

Thursday – Victoria

Friday – Haida Gwaii

Saturday – Victoria 

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