Oliver Stewart looks at the button blanket his mother made when he was 10 years old. He hasn’t seen it since it was stolen three years ago. (Keili Bartlett / The Northern View)

Family reclaims stolen First Nations regalia found at thrift store

Salvation Army finds Indigenous regalia that was stolen from a Prince Rupert home three years ago

Treasures are found every day at thrift stores, but a recent find at the Salvation Army’s store on Third Avenue in Prince Rupert is being called a “blessing.”

On April 10, a woman was walking by the storefront when the display in the window caught her eye. The mannequins were wearing her family’s regalia — which had been stolen three years before.

“We immediately took it out of the window, locked it in the office until all the channels were followed to make sure it got back to the right people,” store manager Roma Dawe said. The display had only been set up 20 minutes before the woman walked by.

“Today we get to return it,” Dawe said at the thrift store the next day while waiting for the family to arrive. “Oh, it’s a wonderful feeling. It’s like I get goosebumps. Wow.”

When she first saw the donations, Dawe said she asked herself, “Why would somebody donate this? It’s precious.”

READ and WATCH MORE: A new husband-and-wife duo take the Salvation Army reins

The hand-sewn pieces include a vest, button blanket, tunics and fur-trimmed boots, all complete with delicate First Nations designs.

“I’m just really glad it’s going back where it belongs,” Dawe said.

The woman’s cousin, Oliver Stewart, came to take his family heirlooms home. His mother was the one who made many of the regalias that were found.

When asked if Stewart thought he would see his mother’s handiwork ever again, he said, “No, never. I didn’t ever think I would. It means a lot.

“I was 10 years old when she made this,” he said with the button blanket in his hands and tears in his eyes. “I’d just like to say thank you, guys.”

Lieutenant Sabrina Silvey, the corps officer for the Prince Rupert Salvation Army, said, “It was absolutely heartwarming to know that something so precious was taken away and we could return it. That doesn’t happen very often. It’s a good story, and I’m glad we were a part of it. It’s a blessing.”

READ and WATCH MORE: Gingolx bring a full house to All Native opening ceremonies



keili.bartlett@thenorthernview.com

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