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Indigenous artifact to return to Squamish Nation following Prince Edward visit

The Royal Family will return two woven jackets that were taken from the Squamish Nation in the early 1910s

Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh, has granted the return to the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) of traditional artifacts that have been held by the Royal Family for more than a century.

A week before the coronation of King Charles III, Squamish Nation councillor Wilson Williams met with the Duke, the youngest child of the late Queen Elizabeth II and brother to the now King, at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel in Vancouver.

Williams said he is unsure of how exactly the Royal Family acquired the artifacts, thought to have been during a visit in 1914 or 1915, but the two woven, wool jackets hadn’t been formally gifted.

“I approached the conversation by directly connecting with the family itself,” said Williams.

“I said we come with a gift of a message on behalf of the Squamish people, and the gift is about extending dialogue for repatriating artifacts that are in the Royal Family’s hands.”

Williams said he understands the artifacts are now possibly in a museum and might not be quick to obtain or return, but he is happy to work with the Royal Family closely to set things in motion.

“We’ve been in dialogue since that meeting, with our head admin staff and our team at the council working on the next steps. Prince Edward is going to do his darndest to help move this forward,” he said.

Williams said the Nation is looking at the return of the jackets, created by the grandfather and grandmother of one of the Nation’s hereditary chiefs, as an act of reconciliation, and will be gifting them a pair of replica woven jackets following their return.

“This signifies our contemporary relationship with the Royal Family,” he said, adding how this is a “huge opportunity” for the Royal Family to show “how far they’ve come.”

The Duke had been visiting the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam Nations to discuss potential opportunities for local youth, with talks of a scholarship or grant soon to be in the pipeline.

Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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