2007 Apr 19 – Program – Debra Sparrow

April 19, 2007

Debra Sparrow is an acclaimed weaver who has been weaving for twenty years and is deeply involved with the revival of Musqueam weaving. Her Musqueam blankets are displayed at the Vancouver Airport, and at UBC. She is active in a program at the Museum of Anthropology designed to teach grade four children about Musqueam culture and history. She helped with the design of the Queen of the Night costume in the Vancouver Opera production of The Magic Flute.

Debra and her sister, Wendy, felt a need to find their roots; they wanted to know what their place was in the world. Their grandfather had told them that they had to know who they were and where they come from; otherwise they were nothing. They decided that their path to this knowledge was through traditional crafts. Wendy revived traditional Musqueam blanket weaving, a craft which had been neglected for eighty five years. Debra chose to pursue jewellery making, but later found herself involved more and more with weaving.

Wendy and Debra organized a local group of Musqueam weavers who wove traditional blankets. They were inspired by an old blanket passed down in their family, by blankets owned by museums in Washington, DC and New York City and by a book on Salish weaving by Paula Gustafson. Now Debra is involved with the commercial production of blanket designs in clothing as well as blankets.

The program finished with a brief slide show showing some of Debra’s blankets as well as some traditional spindle whorls and combs.

Submitted by Jo Anne Ryeburn

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