Duchess Meghan makes surprise visit to Vancouver girls' charity

By Heather Cichowski

Duchess Meghan continued her philanthropic efforts in Canada by making a surprise appearance at Justice For Girls in Vancouver on Jan. 14.

The charity took to Twitter to share two black-and-white photos of the Duchess of Sussex meeting with a group of women. In one picture, Meghan appears to be in an animated conversation as she holds a mug. In another image, the former actress poses with a group. She reportedly met with the organization's co-directors and representatives from its board of directors and staff, according to the Telegraph.

"We were honoured that she chose to have this conversation with us and is interested in the work we do," Zoe Craig-Sparrow, the organization's co-director, told the publication.

The non-profit stated the group discussed "climate justice for girls and the rights of Indigenous peoples" during a 90-minute conversation. The talk also focused on the power of young women's leadership and the importance of a holistic approach to social justice.

These are key pillars for the charity. According to the Justice For Girls's website, the organization "promotes social justice and an end to violence, poverty and racism in the lives of teenage girls who live in poverty." It also believes young women should be at the forefront and take a leading position in programs affecting their lives, including policies and law.

"For me, just as an Indigenous young woman, it's really important that she not only talked with us, but that she prioritized it," Zoe told HELLO! Canada in an interview.

"It's extremely important in this country, considering Indigenous young women and girls face disproportionately high levels of sexual assault, of violence – and all women and girls do, but especially Indigenous women and girls, and especially teenagers and young women."

Jan. 14 was busy for the Duchess of Sussex, since she also made a surprise visit to a women's shelter earlier in the day.

The mom of one stepped out to the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre, where she reportedly spoke to staff about issues affecting women in the neighbourhood. Earlier in the day, Meghan was spotted at Victoria's airport boarding a seaplane bound for the mainland, according to the Vancouver Sun. Meghan visited Vancouver's Downtown Eastside Women's Centre.

The Downtown Eastside Women's Centre is seen on Jan. 15, a day after Meghan's visit. Photo: © Don MacKinnon/AFP via Getty Images

It's meant to be a safe space that provides women with "basic needs including nutritious meals, laundry, showers, phone and computer access, and clothing, as well as support services including advocacy, housing outreach, HIV case management, Chinese seniors outreach, victim services and skills development," according to its Facebook page.

MORE: What Duchess Meghan is said to have been doing since she reportedly arrived back in Canada

The women's centre also shared photos of Meghan's visit on the page.

Kate Gibson, the acting director of the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre, poses with the photo she and her staff took when Meghan when she visited. Photo: © Don MacKinnon/AFP via Getty Images

"She was just casual and lovely," Kate Gibson, Downtown Eastside Women's Centre acting director, told CBC News. "She just wants to get to know the community. We know she's going to come to Canada and I think possibly the West Coast. I think that she just doesn't want to be sort of a stranger in the midst. She just wants to get to know people."

Meghan's surprise charity visits come shortly after she and Prince Harry announced they would step down from their senior royal roles on Jan. 8. The duchess reportedly later returned to the North Saanich, B.C. home where the Sussex family is thought to have stayed during their six-week extended break from royal duties. It was here she reunited with son Archie.

Reports suggest Meghan is developing a new routine as the Sussexes are in their "transitional phase." Based on her two visits, it seems apparent that charitable causes will play an important part of that routine. We can't wait to see more of what she'll do here!

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