Collection helps share legacy and expertise of ancestors
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.