Just days after a First Nations family realized dozens of cultural items had been stolen from their home, the family is happy and relieved to know they’ll soon be returned.
Ferrin Willie and her husband Jordan Hunt discovered at least 68 pieces of regalia missing from a storage room in their Fort Rupert home, just south of Port Hardy. They believe the thefts occurred sometime between mid-April and the end of May.
“It was really, really upsetting,” said Willie at the time. “It felt to me like somebody had died – it’s just a huge overwhelming sense of loss.”
But earlier today the family shared news that the family treasures had been found and they expect to receive the items by Friday.
Among the missing items included a blanket and apron set that was meant to be passed down from Willie’s older daughter to her younger daughter in a naming ceremony scheduled to take place the next day.
Other items missing from the home were masks, headdresses, paddles, rattles and cedar baskets — some of which had been intended to be passed down as inheritance.
Willie and Hunt had been renting their furnished house out to a company while they were staying in Victoria for a few months.
“I had just hoped things would be okay in the storage room,” said Willie adding that she has never been broken into before, but she thinks there is a possibility the renters had been leaving the doors unlocked.
“It’s really bewildering – like who would take it, and who would buy it?” she said.
Willie called the RCMP on June 30, when she discovered the items were missing. “I talked to somebody local on Monday, but the impression that I was given was they couldn’t do much to help,” said Willie adding, “I know it’s a little bit tricky because we had rented the house out, but those items are gone and they have a large significance to us.”
The stolen items include:
7 masks, 4 swan headdresses, 5 rattles, 12+ paddles with painted designs, 5 woven hats, 4 cedar headpieces, 1 cedar ring, 12+ cedar baskets, 3 headdresses with carved frontlets, 1 fur headpiece, 3 blankets, 3 aprons, 1 vest, 1 adult and 1 child Chilkat style blanket/apron set, and 3 drums.