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Royals start tour in Iqaluit

Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip thrill excited crowds in Nunavut's capital

Christine Kay and Tara Kearsey
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Oct 07/02) - Louisa Pitsiulak's father saw Queen Elizabeth II during her last visit and she always hoped to do the same.

Her wish came true Friday.

"I was thinking maybe I would never get to see her, and I am so happy to see her now," said Pitsiulak.

It was pure coincidence that the Panniqtuuq resident happened to be in Iqaluit the same day as the Queen began her golden jubilee tour of Canada.

The Queen and Prince Philip spent about two-and-a-half hours in Iqaluit.

More than 1,000 people lined the streets for the occasion, with hundreds of others in the legislature, at Inukshuk high school and the city's sculpture garden.

Weather was cool, but the - 2C temperature didn't seem to bother Queen Elizabeth, who was dressed in a tan-coloured coat and matching fur-trimmed hat.

She smiled brightly and shook hands with excited people who hoped for a brush with royalty.

Among them was Nancy Carroll, of Smith Falls, Ontario.

She exchanged a few words with the Queen at the sculpture garden.

"I just said, "I hope you have a good trip,' and she said, 'Thank you very much,' " said Carroll.

"You always think that you would like to see her but you never, ever think she would be standing right in front of you and speaking with you."

A historic event

In a speech inside the legislative assembly, the Queen praised the creation of Nunavut.

"Your land is indeed your strength," said the Queen.

"You have created harmony with the environment -- one that you regard as a gift to be cherished, not an inheritance to squander."

She added the creation of the territory marked the beginning of Nunavut's "rightful place in this Canadian story.

"I am proud to be the first member of the Canadian royal family to be greeted in Canada's newest territory."

From there she walked down Federal Road to Four Corners for the unveiling of Iqaluit's first street sign. One street was named in her honour.

Hundreds of people lined the street, waving Nunavut, Canadian and British flags.

And it didn't matter how close people got to the Royals, they were just happy to be there.

"It was nice. I saw the Queen," said primary student Levi Enuaraq-Strauss.

Elisapee Alainga said she didn't get a good look at the Queen but said the event was exciting anyway.

Even veteran royal watchers enjoyed the visit.

"I've never been anywhere on a royal tour quite like this, and I found it quite interesting," said Peter Archer, British Court (regal) correspondent for The Press Association in London.

At Inukshuk high school, the Queen, Prince Philip, Prime Minister Jean Chretien and his wife Aline took in cultural displays and Inuit sports.

Prince Philip presented Duke of Edinburgh awards to Nunavut winners.

"The Duke was absorbed by the Inuit sports at the school," said Archer. "He loved every minute of it."