Debra Sparrow

Coast Salish (Musqueam)


Musqueam, Vancouver, BC

Debra Sparrow (θəliχʷəlʷət) began to study weaving in 1986 but has mostly been self-taught, as at the time she was learning, the last traditional Musqueam weaver had passed away. In addition to being a weaver, Sparrow is also a knowledge keeper and educator who finds great importance in passing on Musqueam history to future generations. She credits some of her inspiration to her grandfather Ed Sparrow, who lived to 100 years old and witnessed the forcible removal of Musqueam people from Stanley Park, giving her "300 years of stories" that grounded her heritage. Her works have been sought out by collections across Canada and the United States. She has woven blankets for Vancouver International Airport's arrivals area, as well as designed logos for events such as the 2010 Olympics and the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup. She is also well known for designing the ongoing Reconciliation process and public art series called "Blanketing the City" for the Vancouver Mural Festival. In collaboration with VMF and master weavers Chief Janice George (Skwxwú7mesh), Angela George (səlilwətaɬ) and Willard 'Buddy' Joseph, the series incorporates Coast Salish weaving designs across the City of Vancouver.