Totem stolen from son’s grave site

Tsartlip man mourns missing totem, taken from his dead son's burial site

Frazer Smith Sr. explains how a thief lifted the totem pole marking his son's grave was lifted and stolen from a cemetery on West Saanich Road.

Frazer Smith Sr. explains how a thief lifted the totem pole marking his son's grave was lifted and stolen from a cemetery on West Saanich Road.



The totem that marks the gravesite of Frazer Smith Sr.’s late son is missing.

“It meant a lot to the family and it’s something that at least when we go by the cemetery we could see the totem pole and say hi, remember the good memories we had with our late brother, nephew, son,” he said.

Sometime overnight on Feb. 21, the totem carved by Frazer Joe Smith Jr.’s cousin disappeared from the little cemetery on the Tsartlip First Nation. At nearly six feet tall, it is topped by an eagle, with a kneeling man underneath, playing a stick game. It is stained a dark mahogany.

“[My nephew] came out one day and he started carving it,” Smith Sr. said. “The plan was to sell it, but my late son passed away so he finished it and gave it to my daughter.”

Though Smith Jr., an athlete, died 10 years ago at age 30, his family and friends held a ceremony at the cemetery three months ago and replaced his grave marker with the carving.

“We had a little ceremony down there, with some offerings to our ancestors and previous friends and relatives who aren’t with us,” Smith Sr. said. “It became a priceless thing because it represented someone who everyone was really close to.”

Sidney North Saanich RCMP are investigating the theft, which they call “disturbing.”

“The marker is quite large and heavy, and required three to four men to put in place,” said Cpl. Chris Swain. “The monetary value of the marker is over $5,000, but that is secondary to the sentimental and emotional value it holds to the family.

“The Sidney North Saanich RCMP continue to investigate this disturbing theft and are seeking assistance from the public in returning this important piece to the family.”

“To have something like this taken from us, you see it in other cemeteries downtown … you never think it will come here,” Smith said. “We thought those days were gone when people take things from our grave sites and burial sites. When it comes to family you don’t realize how much it hurts.”

Anyone with information on the carved totem is asked to call Const. Dan Steffes at 250-656-3931 or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

editor@peninsulanewsreview.com

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