Headdress found in Vancouver dumpster makes its way home after 15 years away


The old saying of “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure” is certainly true after a sacred headdress was found in a North Vancouver dumpster.

It all started when Harry Werner was looking in a garbage bin for bottles.

“I saw a bag in here I seen a feather sticking out of it and I grabbed the bag,” says Werner.

He says he brought it back home to his room-mate and they decided to post the headdress on Facebook to find the owner.

“So many people wanted to claim it was theirs and we told them if you could give us a description, what it is, what’s all on it, what was used to thread with it,” says Ian Ewinin Bee.

“But a lot of them came up with nothing – they didn’t have pictures.”

However, that all changed after Ron Baker’s niece in northern B.C. saw the post and called her family after she recognized that it had belonged to the late Khot- la- cha chief Simon Baker of the Squamish Nation.

He had given it to his son Ron. But Ron says it had been stolen about 15 years ago from the Aboriginal Friendship Centre.

Baker says he couldn’t believe it when he saw the photo on Facebook.

“When I was looking at the picture on Facebook and I’m looking across my living-room at my pictures and I go hey that’s my headdress,” he says.

headdress
Faye Halls with her brother Ron Baker and their father’s headdress. Photo: Tina House/APTN.

After verifying Baker as the rightful owner, a repatriation ceremony was organized to return it

Baker’s sister Faye says she’s so happy the headdress is finally home.

“I really wish these feathers could talk about the journey where its been in the last 15 years or so because its in perfect condition. Whoever had it respected it and looked after it,” says Faye holding the headdress.

Faye says this isn’t the first time things have returned to the family.

Two carvings were found in an antique store that their dad had carved in the 1940s, along with nine baskets that were weaved by Mary Capilano, were returned to them after their other sister met someone who had them at an art show in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

What else is remarkable is that dumpster where the headdress was found was only half a block away from where Faye and Ron live.

Faye puts the sacred headdress on her brother Ron explains what’s it like to be reunited with this precious gift from his late father.

“Every time you put a headdress on it gives you an overwhelming feeling all your troubles go away you are in your own world and you are showing your own power,” Ron says.

Video Journalist / Vancouver

A proud Métis from BC, Tina began her television career in 1997 as a talent agent for film and TV. She joined APTN National News in 2007 as a Video Journalist in the Vancouver bureau. In 2010, she was the recipient of the Amnesty International Human Rights Journalism Award for her story on murdered and missing women and girls.