Meghan Markle has been spotted in public for the first time since returning to Canada.
The Duchess of Sussex stopped by the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre in Vancouver Tuesday to ”discuss issues affecting women in the community” and have some tea, according to a Facebook post by the registered charity.
Kate Gibson, the centre’s acting director, told CBC News that Markle spent more than an hour with frontline staff, and asked about their work and how to improve safety for their clients in the Downtown Eastside.
The centre provides a safe space, resources and advocacy for vulnerable women and children in one of Canada’s lowest-income neighbourhoods. The Downtown Eastside is considered the epicentre of B.C.’s drug overdose crisis, and “as ground zero for violence against Indigenous women and girls.”
Markle is a vocal supporter of the rights of girls and women.
“She just wants to get to know the community,” Gibson told CBC. “We know she’s going to come to Canada and I think possibly the West Coast.”
Markle’s public appearance comes a day after she and Prince Harry received the green light from the Queen to “step down” as senior royals and split their time between Canada and the U.K.
The former actress was photographed by the Daily Mail earlier Tuesday boarding a float plane from Victoria.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex haven’t disclosed where exactly in Canada they’ll settle down. They spent the holiday season with their son Archie in Canada, and were mostly spotted around parts of Vancouver Island.
Regular volunteer at Toronto centre
Long before she became a duchess, Markle volunteered on a “regular basis” in the kitchen of St. Felix Centre, a non-profit that provides services for some of Toronto’s most marginalized and vulnerable populations. She was living in the city at the time and shooting the TV show “Suits.”
“The duchess also donated food from the set of ‘Suits,’ and on one Thanksgiving she brought in all the food, turkeys and the fixings for over 100 people,” the centre posted on its Instagram last December.
The duke and duchess highlighted the Toronto centre in its holiday spotlight of charities, leading to a flood of interest and support.