Debra Sparrow was born and raised on the Musqueam Indian Reserve and is self-taught in Salish design and jewellery-making. Her work can be seen in various museums and institutions including the University of British Columbia, Vancouver International Airport, Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, the Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria and the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle, WA. Debra designed the logo for the Canadian Men’s Hockey Team for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver, B.C. She also continues to work on pieces close to her heart at her home in Musqueam. It is Debra’s hope to educate others about the beauty and integrity of her people’s history through her art.
Debra 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 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. Debra chose to pursue jewellery making, but later found herself involved more and more with weaving.
Debra and her sister 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.
Artwork By Debra Sparrow: