The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have arrived at the Immigrant Services Society of B.C. to greet a crowd of eagerly awaiting fans.
The first, purpose-built facility of its kind in the world, provides settlement, education and employment services to over 25,000 refugees and immigrants each year.
This is the third stop for Prince William and Kate on their visit to Vancouver, first arriving at Jack Poole Plaza, followed by a tour of Sheway – a pregnancy outreach clinic on the East Side.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, met the royal couple outside the Immigrant Services Society’s new Welcome House. They stood for several minutes shaking hands and talking, as crowds watched from behind barriers, snapping photos and cheering.
Inside the building, they went upstairs and met with staff members and refugees, seated in chairs in a semi-circle. Trudeau spoke about his government’s efforts to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees, but said the “real story” was the Canadians who volunteered their time at organizations like ISS and families across the country who sponsored refugees.
William nodded as he listened to Trudeau speak. The organization’s settlement services director Chris Friesen talked about the society’s program for welcoming young refugees and helping them adjust and feel connected to Canada. William asked a refugee from Afghanistan about how the society had helped him, and the refugee replied that it helped him get into a technology course so he could learn new skills.
Trudeau and Gregoire Trudeau were then introduced to a Syrian family of five who are staying in the welcome house. Refugee families are able to stay at the centre temporarily while they get on their feet. Trudeau held their baby boy in his lap while asking the family questions, to which they responded through a translator.
“From a mother to another mother, I salute your courage and the love that binds your family together,” Gregoire Trudeau said.
From war-torn Syria, the family fled to Jordan, where they stayed for four years. Gregoire Trudeau asked about their first impressions when they arrived in Canada. “I was happy,” the father, who used to work as a tailor, replied through a translator. The little girl picked up all the small Canadian and British Columbian flags sitting on the table at one point, prompting laughter from everyone.
The royal couple and the Trudeaus then walked outside onto an outdoor playground area, where little girls were building sandcastles in a large sandbox while other children played in a jungle gym.
William and Kate stood chatting with the prime minister and his wife and a staff member, before walking around the area. Premier Christy Clark looked on as William and Kate unveiled a plaque for the Edith Lando playground, marking its official opening.
WATCH: Justin Trudeau and his wife visit with children and their parents inside the Immigration Services Society as they accompany the Royals
Vancouver resident Martina and her two kids had been camped out since 9 a.m. with hopes for a meet and greet with Kate.
“Hoping just to give the princess and flower and meet my daughter a real life princess.”
Martina and her daughter were in luck, as the Duchess herself exited her vehicle to cheers from excited fans.
Scores of people were gathered on the streets outside this official stop and cheered every time William and Kate could be seen on the outdoor playground above. As the couple exited with the prime minister and Gregoire-Trudeau, the cheers grew very loud.
At least one person wasn’t a fan — carrying a sign that read, “No Kings. No Landlords.” But most screamed in delight at the sight of the royal couple.