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Stolen totem pole returned to Kwikwetlem First Nation

RCMP are still investigating after the three-foot carving was found in a Chilliwack basement suite.

kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem) representatives are thankful a totem pole stolen from the First Nation's office was recently recovered.

The 3' wooden carving was found in Chilliwack last month, Coquitlam RCMP said in an update today (Jan. 10) and it was returned to the Indigenous band on Monday (Jan. 9).

"We would like to thank the Coquitlam RCMP, the Upper Fraser Valley Regional RCMP and the general public for their combined efforts in helping to locate and retrieve the stolen totem pole from the Nation," KFN chief and council said in a joint statement.

"The carving of the owl was of important cultural significance to the Nation and we are very grateful to have it back here in our community."

The totem pole had been missing since Oct. 12.

Police said a man was captured on video surveillance that evening taking the solid red cedar artifact and loading it into a U-Haul truck.

Spokesperson Cpl. Alexa Hodgins said RCMP were made aware on Dec. 28 of a wooden carving that matched the stolen item's description was left behind in a Chilliwack basement suite after a tenant moved out.

That's roughly 80 km east from kʷikʷəƛ̓əm's main building (10-65 Colony Farm Rd.) where it was taken.

"This is the outcome we hoped for but did not expect," she added, noting Upper Fraser Valley RCMP found the totem and safely transported it back to the local detachment.

"We are really happy that we were able to return the totem pole, as we understand the significant loss and sentimental value that it held within the community."

In the meantime, investigators are still looking for the suspect involved in the house post's theft and continue to appeal for more details from the public.

He's described as:

  • Medium athletic build
  • Was seen wearing....
    • Dark shoes
    • Dark jeans or work pants
    • Dark hoodie sweatshirt

Anyone with more information on how the carving turned up in Chilliwack, or who witnessed the original theft, is encouraged to call Coquitlam RCMP at 604-945-1550 and quote file-number 2022-27539.

- with a file from Diane Strandberg, Tri-City News