Canada has announced that it will present a full-grown Cree man as an engagement gift to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, continuing a little-known custom that has existed since treaties were first signed between the Crown and First Nations.
“In keeping with tradition, I am honoured to mark this Royal Engagement with the gift of this fully-grown First Nations man,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“Canadians and of course our Indigenous Peoples have a real affection for the Royal family stretching back decades.”
Douglas Sinclair, 47, a member of the High Rock Cree Nation in northern Manitoba was selected randomly from a list of candidates maintained by the federal department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs for just such an occasion.
“Yeah, guess I’m going,” Sinclair told reporters from the community’s band office. “It’s tradition so can’t really say no.”
An impromptu celebration had broken out in the community as news of the gift spread.
“It kind of puts us out because he was the bus driver, but we’ll make do,” said Chief Harvey Colomb.
“Ultimately we are just honoured that one of our own was chosen for such a momentous event.”
Sinclair will live in a special wing of Buckingham Palace with several other Indigenous people given as gifts over the years, many of whom are now quite elderly.