A carved figure that was stolen from a First Nation in Coquitlam turned up in Chilliwack two and a half months after it went missing.
The three-foot tall carving was reported stolen on Oct. 12, 2022 from kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem) First Nation in Coquitlam where it had been on display at the back of the band office at 10-65 Colony Farm Rd. Surveillance footage showed a hooded man carrying the red cedar piece over his shoulder and into a U-Haul truck that night.
On Dec. 28, 2022, Coquitlam RCMP were told that the stolen carving had been found. It was left behind after a tenant moved out of a residential basement suite in Chilliwack.
How it ended up in Chilliwack, the RCMP do not know.
“This is the outcome we hoped for but did not expect,” said Cpl. Alexa Hodgins of Coquitlam RCMP. “We understand the significant loss and sentimental value that it held within the community.”
Coquitlam RCMP returned the carved figure to kʷikʷəƛ̓əm First Nation on Monday, Jan. 9.
“We are very happy that it was returned safely to kʷikʷəƛ̓əm,” said Deborah Martelluzzi with kʷikʷəƛ̓əm First Nation.
She added that although it may commonly be called a totem pole, it is in fact a carved figure.
“We would like to thank the public for their assistance, as we would not have been able to safely locate this totem pole without their help,” Cpl. Hodgins said. “We would also like to thank our partnering agencies at the Upper Fraser Valley RCMP Regional Detachment for assisting Coquitlam RCMP by retrieving the totem pole.”
RCMP said the man who was seen in the video surveillance footage on Oct. 12, 2022 has a medium, athletic build. He was wearing dark shoes, dark jeans or work pants and a dark hoodie at the time he stole the totem pole.
Anyone who has any information, witnessed this incident or may have information as to how it ended up in Chilliwack is asked to contact the Coquitlam RCMP at 604-945-1550, and quote file number 2022-27539.