Lake Babine Nation drum group pleads for return of regalia stolen in Vancouver

The Lake Babine Nation drum group is asking the Vancouver public to keep an eye out for their stolen belongings so they can hopefully get them back. 

The group travelled to Vancouver this week to perform at the Gathering Wisdom forum, an annual First Nations health event. 

Hereditary chief Ronnie West said the group was staying at a downtown hotel where they couldn't park their van because of how tall it is. So they parked the van in a lot at Pender and Richards and decided to leave their regalia in the vehicle, instead of packing them back and forth. 

"It's hard for the elders to move their stuff around," he said. 

On Wednesday morning, the plan was to hit the road early to start their long drive back to their territory. As he was dusting the snow off the van he noticed one of the passenger windows had been smashed and then realized the group's regalia had been stolen. 

Among the items stolen were a suitcase with about 30 children's regalia and several adult regalia along with their drums. 

The following video, shot by Melody Charlie during the group's performance on Tuesday, gives a look at many of the pieces that were stolen. 

"It's not about the dollars. There's a lot of sentimental value," said West. 

"These regalias were handed down from generation to generation. It means a lot to us to get them back."

So far the group has been reunited with two of the pieces that were stolen, after getting a call from a Downtown Eastside community organization that said the pieces showed up at their space. 

The group is hoping to get all of the regalia back and wants to emphasize to the public that these are not items that should be bought and sold.

"It comes from a couple generations of our ancestors that wore it," said West.

"We'd just like to have them back."

The Vancouver Police Department is aware of the theft and it is being investigated by property crime investigators. 

In a statement to CBC News a department spokesperson said all patrol members in the city's downtown area and East Vancouver have been made aware of the theft and asked to keep an eye out for the regalia.