CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. – Ernie Smith wants his hat back.

The co-owner of Awatin Aboriginal Art said among the items stolen during a break-in at his Campbell River gallery two weeks ago was a traditional cedar hat made for him by his cousin, Andrea Little.

Smith said the Nuu-chah-nulth cedar bark hat is dressed with a large abalone shell and a sacred eagle feather.

And while it is valued at $1,000, the hat is priceless for Smith.

“It’s a very special piece,” Smith said. “It’s a one-of-a kind piece. It’s woven very finely, so it’s taken a long time to make it. It’s a very special piece to me.”

“I hope I get it back. It would be really nice to get my hat back.”

Another view of the stolen cedar hat.
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Smith said a friend saw the hat for sale on a website in Nanaimo but it was quickly removed.

“They must have saw my posting and they took it down quick,” he said.

The break-in occured in the early morning hours of Feb. 6. The store re-opened the day after the break-in.

Whoever entered the store smashed three windows while damaging a $4,000 door created by Michael Price, as well as a “beautiful print” made by Mark Henderson, according to Smith.

He still holds out hope that both the hat and the culprit(s) are found.

“They sure made a lot of damage and we were cleaning up glass all day and all night,” Smith said.

Anyone who knows about the hat’s whereabouts, or has information on the break-in, are urged to call the RCMP.