ALERT BAY—An Alert Bay man is happy to have a traditional carved mask back in his possession this week after a private collector surrendered the item that was stolen four days earlier.
“What a nice guy,” Al West said of the buyer, who called RCMP after purchasing the mask. “This is the second time this (suspect) did this to me.” The mask was stolen from a shed on West’s property Sept. 19 by a perpetrator West described as “a local youth”.
The private collector voluntarily surrendered the mask to the Alert Bay detachment Wednesday, Sept. 24, said Cst. Andrew Curtis. Later that evening, the 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.
West said the speedy recovery of the mask was fortunate. “It’s for my potlatch coming up in November.” This potlatch is an important cultural event for the community and West’s family, and the recovery of the carving spared the host considerable difficulty.
The mask depicts the Huxhukw of the Hamatsa dance series. It is a replica of one used by West’s great-grandfather, Charlie George. The original is held by UBC at the Museum of Anthropology.
“The Alert Bay RCMP would like to thank the public and media for their assistance in solving this crime,” Curtis said.