Sophie, Countess of Wessex, pledges to help bring attention to aboriginal issues in northern Ontario
Sophie, Countess of Wessex. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett
NORTH BAY, Ont. -- Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne continued her tour of the province's north Friday with a royal guest.
Fresh from an overnight visit to the remote fly-in First Nations community of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI), the Countess of Wessex, Sophie Rhys-Jones, arrived in North Bay with Wynne and a delegation of high-profile women to speak about aboriginal issues.
The wife of the Queen's youngest son, Prince Edward, the countess addressed a crowd of about 400 people at Nipissing University, touching on the importance of education, a need to preserve aboriginal language and culture, and a need to heal the still-open wounds stemming from the Canadian government 's residential school system.
"We need to ask about what can be done to ease their suffering," she said of residential school survivors who are haunted by "painful memories."
The countess stressed a need to safeguard aboriginal culture for future generations and focused on the importance of aboriginal education.
"Education is a fundamental right for all young people" the countess said, noting there are opportunities that are out of reach for First Nations.
She acknowledged success stories in many aboriginal communities but said it is clear that many others require outside support. She pledged to do what she can to help bring attention to their needs.