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Indigenous lantern art stolen from Lunar New Year display in downtown Vancouver

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Organizers of a Lunar New Year display outside the Vancouver Art Gallery are condemning the theft of one of eight lanterns that comprised it and asking the public for help tracking the artwork down.

"My Family III" by Kwakwaka’wakw artist Richard Hunt is one of eight works of art that was installed in šxʷƛ̓ ənəq Xwtl’e7énk Square, the art gallery's north plaza, as part of The Lantern City

The lanterns have been installed at four locations around the city since early February in celebration of the Year of the Dragon. The ones at the art gallery were scheduled to be taken down Wednesday.

Hunt's work saw a premature removal, however, according to The Lantern City. The group said in a statement Tuesday that My Family III had been stolen just after 2 a.m. Monday.

The theft has been reported to the Vancouver Police Department, The Lantern City said.

Hunt, whose Kwakwaka’wakw name is Gwe-la-yo-gwe-la-gya-lis, expressed disappointment at the theft, according to The Lantern City.

The artist, who is a member of both the Order of B.C. and the Order of Canada, explains the symbolism and significance of the piece on The Lantern City's website

It features the two-headed serpent Sisiutl, which was Hunt's mother's main crest.

"Holding on to the Sisiutl is Cedar Man and Woman," the artist's statement reads.

"Cedar is our tree of life. Everything we do, from our cradles to our houses, comes from the cedar tree."

The design also includes a bear holding a baby bear, hummingbirds and an eagle with copper in its mouth.

Anyone with information on the artwork's whereabouts should contact the VPD, The Lantern City said. 

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