Indian chief explains royal snub

He was unhappy the royal couple didn't focus on the struggles of indigenous people

Indian chief explains royal snub

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte arrive at Victoria International Airport, Canada | Image: Dominic Lipinski / PA Wire/Press Association Images

A prominent First Nations leader who refused to meet Prince William has told Sky News the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge should have used their Royal tour of Canada to put a spotlight on the poverty facing indigenous people.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, says he has been contacted by people around the world after his decision not attend an event earlier in the week.

The black rod ceremony was meant to symbolise reconciliation between First Nation communities and the federal and provincial governments.

He told Sky News: "Had I participated and made some eloquent statement, it would have led to convey the normalisation of the appalling levels of poverty of indigenous peoples and the general public would have taken a deep breath and said: 'Well all is well and isn't that wonderful'."

He also said that representatives from indigenous communities in other Commonwealth countries have said they support his stand against the pagentry.

It came as William and Kate visited the remote islands of Haida Gwaii, 60 miles off mainland Canada, on the penultimate day of their official visit.

They've visited a number of First Nation communities this week to try to get a true sense of Canadian life.

Addressing the Haida people, Prince William was careful to sidestep this politically sensitive issue. He said: "The historic link between the Crown and the First Nations people is strong, and something that I hold dear to my heart."

"And so it is an honour for me to be here with you, to see that your traditions remain strong," he added.

Canada has been forced in recent years to confront the discrimination of First Nation people. Historically, they have had less access to healthcare provision and education.

A truth and reconciliation committee was set up to look into the scandal of residential schools where indigenous children were forced to integrate into Canadian society.

They were taken away from their families and punished for speaking their traditional languages. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said it is one of his priorities to address the social problems faced by the hundreds of First Nation communities across Canada.