ALERT BAY—A traditional carved mask stolen here last week has been recovered and a suspect arrested, Alert Bay RCMP announced today.
A private collector voluntarily surrendered the mask to the Alert Bay detachment Wednesday, said Cst. Andrew Curtis. Later that evening, a suspect was identified and arrested before being released on a Promise to Appear at Port Hardy’s Provincial court Nov. 12.
He faces charges of breaking and entering, theft and public mischief. As the charges have not yet been sworn, the man’s name cannot be released at this time, Curtis said.
The collector who surrendered the mask will not be charged.
“Due to circumstances, they will not be facing any charges of possession of stolen property obtained by crime,” Curtis said.
The mask depicts the Huxhukw of the Hamatsa dance series, and is used in potlatches and other Kwakwaka’wakw ceremonial events.
It was discovered missing from a shed at the owner’s residence on Sept. 19. RCMP were called and began their investigation that day.
The use of these mask carvings in ceremonies were prohibited in Canada from the late 1800’s until 1951, and during that time many were seized. These masks hold special cultural and historical significance to the Kwakwaka’wakw peoples today.
“The Alert Bay RCMP would like to thank the public and media for their assistance in solving this crime,” Curtis said.