Col­lec­tion helps share legacy and ex­per­tise of an­ces­tors

The Victoria Standard - - Arts - CAROLYN BAR­BER

Ev­ery bas­ket in Dolena Poulette’s 250+ col­lec­tion has a story at­tached to it. Ask her and she can re­count each one.

Poulette dis­played a small se­lec­tion of her bas­ket col­lec­tion at the 7th An­nual Wag­mat­cook Abo­rig­i­nal Arts & Cul­ture Festival on Oct. 12 and 13 at the Wag­mat­cook Cul­ture and Her­itage Cen­tre. Many vis­i­tors ap­proached the dis­play wish­ing to pur­chase them, leav­ing in­stead with the stories be­hind them.

Poulette’s joy for bas­kets rests in col­lect­ing them, rather than cre­at­ing them.

“It breaks my heart when I go into a shop and see a bas­ket in the cor­ner. I have to buy it.”

Though not a bas­ket maker her­self, Poulette did in­sist on learn­ing the ba­sics of the craft.

“I wanted to ex­pe­ri­ence what it was like to make a bas­ket.”

Her col­lect­ing has taken her far and wide. She once stum­bled upon a pair of wo­ven owls (#131) on Face­book and im­me­di­ately set off to In­dian Is­land, NB, to pur­chase them from their creator, Evan­ge­line Sa­ni­pass.

A few passersby the dis­play rec­og­nized the artistry in the bas­kets. Festival par­tic­i­pant Judy Bernard-goo­goo rec­og­nized bas­ket #181 as one she had made. Wag­mat­cook Chief Nor­man Bernard rec­og­nized bas­ket #71 as one his great aunt had made by the peri­win­kle-shapes (or curls) wo­ven into the sur­face weave of the bas­ket.

“I knew it be­cause of the curlies,” Poulette said, re­call­ing Chief Bernard’s com­ment.

Peo­ple of­ten be­stow bas­kets to Poulette and one gen­tle­man en­trusted his be­lated mother’s bas­ket mak­ing tools to her.

Bas­ketry runs in Poulette’s fam­ily. Her grand­par­ents ran one of the first bas­ket shops in We’ko­q­maq and pre­pared the wood splints for weav­ing on the premises.

Her most trea­sured bas­ket is #113, the one her mother made for her 30 years ago from yel­low birch. He sis­ter has an iden­ti­cal one.

At times, Poulette finds it over­whelm­ing to be sur­rounded by the vast col­lec­tion.

“I’m shar­ing the ex­per­tise and legacy of our an­ces­tors.”

Are you a col­lec­tor? Know some­one who is and would like to show off their col­lec­tion? Let us know. Call 902-295-1144.

A frac­tion of the bas­kets in Dolena Poulette’s grow­ing col­lec­tion of 250 bas­kets. Each bas­ket has a story at­tached to it. Photo by Carolyn Bar­ber / The Vic­to­ria Stan­dard.

Dolena Poulette of We’koma’q dis­plays bas­ket #113 from her col­lec­tion of 250 bas­kets at the 7th An­nual Wag­mat­cook Abo­rig­i­nal Arts & Cul­ture Festival in Wag­mat­cook. Poulette’s mother wove the bas­ket us­ing yel­low birch 30 years ago. Poulette is also wear­ing bas­ket ear­rings, and a spe­cial head­piece made from sweet grass with pink beads wo­ven into the sur­face weave. Photo by C. Bar­ber.

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