Canada More than $20,000 in handcrafted items stolen from First Nations store

17:23  12 october  2017
17:23  12 october  2017 Source:   Leader Post

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Ivy Kennedy stands over a display cabinet that once contained handcrafted pieces of jewellery made by artists in Regina’s First Nations community. At the beginning of the month, the White Buffalo Calf Woman store was burglarized.

More than $ 20 , 000 in handcrafted items stolen from First Nations store . Ivy Kennedy stands over a display cabinet that once contained handcrafted pieces of jewellery made by artists in Regina’s First Nations community.

Ivy Kennedy stands over a display cabinet that once contained handcrafted pieces of jewellery made by artists in Regina’s First Nations community.

At the beginning of the month, the White Buffalo Calf Woman store was burglarized. Located at 3026 Dewdney Ave., the store specializes in selling First Nations crafts, art and clothing items, many of which are made by artisans living in Regina.

Revenue from the store goes towards the Women of the Dawn Counselling Centre, a non-profit organization of which Kennedy is the director; it provides community services such as career planning, literacy programs, healing circles and Christmas dinners for children.

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Kennedy noticed something was wrong when she arrived at the store on Monday and saw that a cabinet was left open.

“We said ‘Oh my god.’ Everything was gone,” said Kennedy, the store’s owner. 

Drawers were pulled out of cabinets and thrown around the store, while the floor was covered with cheques and papers. Whoever broke in entered through the rear of the building after smashing through a steel door. 

“All those shelves were cleaned right out,” said Joanne Lerat, an elder who provides counselling for Women of the Dawn. 

Kennedy estimates the total value of all the merchandise stolen was more than $20,000. Some of the losses include 600 earrings, 20 dream catchers and three original paintings. It has taken Kennedy four to five years to accumulate the hundreds of items that once made up much of her inventory. 

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“We were a vehicle for our First Nations artists, and people that wanted to make a living in North Central,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy reported the burglary to the Regina Police Service. Police confirmed they had received a report of a break, enter and theft that happened in the area between Oct. 1 and 2. Police said no charges have been laid yet, and the incident is under investigation. 

Because the store is still starting out, Kennedy said she couldn’t afford to keep it insured.

The business was expected to start generating funds within the next five years. Kennedy felt like she was making progress. More people were becoming aware of the store, and she recently had success with selling items to tourists visiting from Italy.

“It was looking hopeful,” said Kennedy.

Emily Key, Kennedy’s niece, volunteers for Women of the Dawn. She described Kennedy and Lerat as women with big hearts, who often give spare cash to those who need to purchase prescriptions at the pharmacy next door.

“That’s why it’s really disheartening that somebody could do this to them, because they give so much,” said Key.

Kennedy plans to hold a fundraiser to recoup the loss from the burglary. The financial hardship has come at a bad time. Kennedy had to replace the store’s furnace in the spring, and had already planned to hold a fundraiser to cover the cost of that.

“We’re just trying to keep the doors open and then they come and rob us. It broke us. Yeah, we were broken-hearted,” said Lerat.

Anyone with information on the break-in can contact Regina police or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

mmelnychuk@postmedia.com

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