This piece is an excerpt from Connecting a Culture, a series of profiles about inspiring Aboriginal people in Manitoba I wrote and published in March, 2015. These role models have overcome obstacles both small and large from poverty, abuse, and homelessness. Despite these road blocks, they faced their challenges and persevered. Their inspiring stories are what make them role models.
Because Jacquie’s father only worked seasonally, money was scarce. Their small income had forced the Berciers to learn how to live off the land. At their small farm they raised chickens and pigs, while Jacquie’s dad hunted for other meat. Her mother grew vegetables and fruits in the garden, and occasionally looked for edible and medicinal plants in the bush.
“We used to dig up seneca root, also called snake root, which has a root beer smell. You can use the roots for colds and sore throats. I even have dreams about this plant.”
Life was simple for the Berciers on their farm. An oil furnace and many wood stoves warmed the house. The only time they went to the grocery store was for basic necessities such as flour or baking soda. Jacquie and her sisters would entertain themselves with cartoons on their one small television, but the girls preferred the outdoors to a screen.
“We really grew up appreciating the things we had.”
Even today Jacquie would rather go to the grocery store. Cedar trees surround Jacquie’s house. She says the cedar leaves contain a strong dose of vitamin C, best consumed in the form of hot tea. Jacquie also grows plants like thistle weed and sage in her garden. She uses sage for ceremonial purposes and claims thistle weed can clear the nastiest of clogged sinuses.