Plumes et Pacotilles is the atelier-boutique of Sylvie Bernard, a member of the Abenaki First Nation in Wolinak, Quebec. The boutique sells Bernard’s art objects, fashions and accessories, as well as the work of other Abenaki and Indigenous artisans.
Bernard was born in Trois-Rivières in 1959 to an Abenaki father and Quebecois mother.
She credits the influence of family members with inspiring her artisanal talents.
Her father, Raymond Bernard, was a fibreglass canoe manufacturer, and her grandfather, who died when she was young, made ax handles. Of the latter Bernard has said, “the memory that I keep of him is a magnificent ax handle that he cleverly carved, and that I preciously keep. He is a source of inspiration.”
Bernard first found fame as a singer. Her professional career was jump-started in 1986 when she won the Grand Prize at the 18th annual Festival international de la chanson de Granby. Bernard has released three albums and has always made her own stage costumes for her live performances.
Between 2001 and 2004, Bernard, who is a highly skilled beadworker, was invited by the Wolinak community to teach traditional artisanal techniques. The experience was a positive one, and inspired her to open her atelier-boutique, Plumes et Pacotilles, in 2005.
She works with what she calls “the sensual materials of traditional Amerindian cultures,” such as leather, fur, feathers, beads, seeds, wood and antlers.
Her artwork, clothing, and accessories like jewellery and moccasins are both contemporary and rooted in traditional Indigenous techniques.
The boutique also organizes demonstrations of techniques that enable visitors “to discover the Abenaki people and the expression of their culture.”
Bernard has won several prizes for her work and Plumes et Pacotilles. In 2005, she received the Prix d’excellence en métiers d’art from the Conseil de développement culturel du Centre-du-Québec and, in 2006, First Prize in the Québec Entrepreneurship Contest. In 2011, Bernard received a bursary from the Ministère des Affaires Municipales et des Régions for the development of a collection of birch bark ornaments.
Houde, François. “L’art pour rendre une identité volée” Le Nouvelliste, Groupe Capitales Médias, 4 May 2016, https://www.lenouvelliste.ca/arts/lart-pour-rendre-une-identite-volee-c165a60d10b6393d551bf60742414629/. 2018.