Rehabilitation through art

Lynda Pelletier hasn’t let a life altering accident hold her back.

Lynda (left) and Sarah (right).

Lynda (left) and Sarah (right).

Lynda Pelletier hasn’t let a life altering accident hold her back. In fact, it’s helped her find her passion – creating hand-crafted jewellery and window art.

Six years ago, Lynda was in a car accident that left her with many physical disabilities, as well as a traumatic brain injury. It’s been a long road to recovery, and along the way she turned to art to help her move forward.

“About two years after the accident when I was actually able to clean, it took me a long time to be able to do things like that, I found some old paint in the closet and I thought I’d try it out,” recalled Lynda. “I made some things, some not so pretty things, but it just got me motivated more.”

Lynda began by painting images that could be placed on windows and progressed to making jewellery that displayed natural stones and sea glass, using everything from chainmail, wire, and rope.

“Basically this has been a form of rehabilitation for me,” Lynda expressed. “I have vision and hand problems, I don’t have much grip or strength, but it gives me that feeling that I can do something good, because after the accident I couldn’t do anything, and I felt like I could never do anything again. So this gave me life.”

Having never painted or tried her hand at jewellery making before, Lynda was surprised at how quickly and effectively she was able to create works of art.

“With my brain injury, one side of my brain shuts down and doesn’t work so well and the creative side opened up,” she said. “It’s like all of a sudden I have ideas and if I see it I have to make it.

“If I can make it, great, if I don’t know how, I’ll find out how. I have this drive to always create. If it’s a struggle, I will make it work. I won’t give up.”

Lynda added, “This gives me a feeling of normalcy, and I just did it for me. I never showed it to anybody until I met Sarah.”

Sarah Crossfield began working with Lynda in 2009 as her rehabilitation assistant. After seeing what Lynda was capable of creating, she pushed her to begin bringing her work to local craft fairs. While Lynda lives in Kimberley, Sarah is based in Fernie and the pair set out to sell Lynda’s piece for the first time at the Fernie Fall Craft Fair two years ago.

Since then, Lynda has attended several other fairs around the East Kootenays, including this year’s Griz Days Craft Fair, and now sells her work online at Etsy. Five per cent of her sales are donated to the B.C. Brain Injury Association of Canada.

“This has given me a reason to get out there again. Trying to be out there as a person instead of a hermit,” commented Lynda. “I hid the first four years of my accident life, I didn’t leave my house.

“This focused me. My brain feels normal when I’m doing this. I just don’t remember what I’ve made after it’s gone, that’s they only downfall. But I do take lots of pictures so I can remember.”

While Sarah has been instrumental in helping her recover, Lynda enforces that none of it would matter if it weren’t for her three children.

“They are basically my driving force,” she remarked. “When I had my accident I had one kid in college, one kid still in school, and my youngest who helped care for me when she was only five.

“My kids are my strength. I think if they weren’t here, I wouldn’t have wanted to live, it was that bad.”

Lynda went on to say, “I don’t feel bad this happened. In one way I’m happy I had my accident, it made me slow down, see things in front of me, appreciate what’s in front of me, and spend more time with my family.

“It’s made me able to be the at-home mom, where as before I was a single mom running around with three jobs, I never had time to breath. Now that’s all I do, so it’s good.”

Lynda’s work can be viewed and purchased at