More than $17K worth of equipment, ceremonial items stolen from First Nations musician

todayAugust 3, 2023 3

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A First Nations musician is reeling from the theft of thousands of dollars worth of her equipment and priceless ceremonial items that were taken from a storage locker overnight Tuesday. 

Kristen McKay says she put her musical equipment and other items in storage at the Access Storage location on Gordon Avenue on July 13 while she was dealing with a difficult personal situation. 

“I was trying to keep myself safe. You know, I was trying to keep my personal items safe and I wanted to utilize, you know, this storage company to give me that safety,” she said. 

When she went to check on her items on Tuesday, she said she was shocked to see that someone had taken many of them. 

“I’ve had like 15 of my personal guitars stolen, an entire sound system, there is amplifiers that were also taken as well,” she said. 

One of the guitars Kristen McKay says was taken from a storage locker. (Submitted by Kristen McKay)

Altogether, McKay estimates that close to $17,000 worth of instruments and sound equipment was stolen. 

The ordeal has been devastating for McKay, a professional recording and touring artist who says she uses her music as a form of healing for herself and her community. 

“It hasn’t been very good for my mental health,” she said. 

“I struggled to purchase these items, and I can’t say how hard this is on every part of me.”

But more devastating to McKay, who is from Minegoziibe Anishinabe — also known as Pine Creek First Nation — were the irreplaceable ceremonial items that were taken. 

A woman wearing a ribbon skirt stands on the steps of a large building, flanked by pillars. She is holding a flare that emits a cloud of red smoke.
In this photo from October 2022, Kristen McKay performs on the steps of the Manitoba legislature in a ribbon skirt that bears the words ‘No more stolen sisters,’ referencing missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. (Submitted by Kristen McKay)

That includes a beaded medallion and breastplate, eagle feathers and a medicine pouch with a bear tooth inside that was gifted to her. 

“The musical equipment can be replaced, but the ceremonial pieces, those were meant for me. Those pieces that I worked with, they brought a significant amount of healing to me,” she said. 

McKay says staff at Access Storage told her the locker she was using hadn’t been closed properly. 

Staff at Access Storage declined to comment Wednesday. 

An exterior view of a storage locker facility.
Kristen McKay says her musical instruments, sound equipment and irreplaceable ceremonial items were taken from a storage locker on Gordon Avenue earlier this week. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

McKay said she’s filed a police report and was waiting for police to come take a statement from her Wednesday. 

CBC News reached out to the Winnipeg Police Service Wednesday and is awaiting a response. 

With her next performance scheduled for Aug. 18, she says she hopes she can get her items back before then. 

“I want my stuff back. I need my items back. I need this bundle to come back to me because of the work that I need to do.”

Musician’s gear stolen from storage locker

First Nations musician Kristen McKay is reeling from the theft of thousands of dollars worth of her equipment and priceless ceremonial items. They were taken from a Winnipeg storage locker overnight.

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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