Irreplaceable regalia stolen from Babine Lake Indigenous drummers visiting Vancouver

Members of the Babine Lake Nation pose in their regalia at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Ronnie West

A group of First Nations singers, dancers and drummers visiting Vancouver for an Indigenous forum is appealing for help after their one-of-a-kind traditional regalia was stolen.

The group from the Lake Babine Nation was in town to perform at the Gathering of Wisdom for a Shared Journey forum at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

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But hereditary chief Ronnie West said that when the group, which was staying at a downtown hotel, went to start their van on Tuesday, they discovered the window had been smashed.

“It’s something we’re not used to. We’re from up north and we don’t have those problems,” said West.

“We just trust people. I guess downtown is just totally different.”

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Vancouver police confirmed they were investigating the theft, reported from a parking lot near Richards and Dunsmuir streets.

West said many of the items that were taken are irreplaceable, including cloaks, blankets, hats and drums.

Many members of the group who had travelled to Vancouver were elders, he said.

“The spirits of our ancestors are in those things,” said West.

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West said two sets of regalia have since been recovered, but three full sets, plus about 30 smaller sets of kids’ regalia and other items, remained missing.

“It should be given back. We won’t ask questions, we just want it back. There’s no money value to them or for them,” West said.

West explained that the regalia is used for ceremonies and traditional practices and that many of the items have been passed down from generation to generation.

Police said officers in the downtown and East Vancouver areas have been alerted to keep an eye out for the items, and are urging anyone who may have seen them to call investigators.


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