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Janice DePeel

Genealogy Mysteries Need Further Investigation

I’m in a bit of a quandary at the moment.  The bind I’m in stems from my Great, great, great grandparents.  I have reasons to believe they lied about their birth place when they participated in the Canadian census as they purchased land, homesteaded it and raised their family.  You see, until the age of 15, my mother shared stories of her American born mother who disappeared after my grandparent’s (her Mom and Dad) divorced.  She shared all that she could of her mother in part to keep her few memories she had left from when she last saw her mother at the age of three fresh in her mind.  But she also wanted to share her roots with us children.  She wanted us to understand where we came from, how we resembled some members of the family and not others and even how some sicknesses, allergies and diseases affected us and future generations.  And then there were things she couldn’t share with us as she’d been sworn to keep the information to herself.  Things like the fact we weren’t just Canadian, we were actually a unique mix of European and Aboriginal ancestry known as “Halfbreeds”, the “Flower Beadwork People”, or, as we are commonly referred to today, as the Métis.  This group of people is unique to Canada’s fur trade history and the early European settlers who came to this country from European countries such as France, Britain and Scotland.  There were also Spanish and Norwegian explorers who came and, for various reasons, didn’t make lasting, permanent, long-term settlements.  Prior to learning of my Métis ancestry, my Mother’s family insisted their heritage was “Spanish” and they refused to entertain any other explanation for the reasons why some of us had very dark skin and others of us were incredibly fair, covered in freckles that connected with a light summer burn that never turned to a tan and fire-y red hair.  My mother was one of the latter and managed to produce her very own “mini me” with one of her daughters.  The rest of her children range from dark to fair skin but they bear no resemblance to the “Spanish” ancestors my Aunts and Uncle insist we come from.  I can’t blame them for denying our blood quantum and country of origin.  They were taught to deny their heritage by their father, my grandfather, my mother’s father.

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What Does April Mean To You?

I saw a beautiful picture of Daffodils the other day.  They are cheerful, and the bright yellow petals remind me of smiling faces so I immediately felt a surge of hope.  Here was proof we have made it through the worst of winter and spring is sure to arrive soon.  If I needed further proof, I only need step outside to see the puddles, the mud, the green grass coming in areas where there is no snow and I can hear the geese calling (even at four in the morning!) and the familiar “caw” of the crow.  It’s wonderful!  And then in the back of my mind I hear a familiar tune from the Canadian Cancer Society ad ... “That’s what Daffodils do...” and I’m reminded that it’s time for some self-care.  I promised myself that this year I would take my self-care a step further with a mammogram.  Although breast cancer affects women significantly more than men, both genders can get it.  All of us carry genes that could potentially turn to cancer.  But for some reason some of us have a genetic predisposition to developing it, particularly if it runs in your family, as it does in mine.  My first introduction to the threat of breast cancer came when I was eight - one of my older brothers had to go in for further testing to determine what was happening with his health.  Thankfully, it wasn’t cancer, which a biopsy later confirmed.  But I remember the concern that lay over our family as we waited for test results.  So as April approaches, I’m setting aside a bit of money to support the Canadian Cancer society’s Daffodil campaign.  And I thought I’d walk you through the process of going for a mammogram.

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Crochet and the Power of Gifting

Several years ago, I was inspired by memories of my English born paternal Grandmother, who was an avid knitter and crocheter, to create an Afghan made out of bright, cheerful colours.  When I completed the first one, I began a second one for my Mother’s bed.  It took me ninety hours just to complete the multi-coloured Granny Squares and then it took more time to weave in the stray pieces of yarn and crochet them altogether in a way that satisfied my eye aesthetically.  When it was done, I gifted it to my Mother and she used it on her bed daily.  She had a friend who would visit.  Often her friend would get up and go and lay on my Mother’s bed where she would remain for a few hours.  Then she would get up and return to her own apartment elsewhere in the building.  This had been going on for about a week and I visited my Mom one day, saw the Afghan on her bed and ran my hand over the squares, proud of the work I’d done in making this gift for my Mom. And then I felt it - a hole that didn’t belong. And another. Then another.  Upon closer inspection, it looked as if someone had taken a pair of scissors and systematically cut holes into the Afghan.  I called my Mom and showed her, consulting her to see if it was an error on my part and my stitches had come loose.  I didn’t want to believe someone had been so malicious as to vandalize what I considered a piece of art, an heirloom and a tribute to my Grandmother and Mother, the woman who had taught me to crochet Granny Squares in the first place.  I still haven’t figured out how to repair the Afghan. When I do, it will still be beautiful and the repairs will be a part of the story that is the legacy of all quilts made by hand.  Each piece has a story to tell.

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Is it Too Soon…

… to talk about our 2021 garden planning?  I hope not because, to tell the truth, I start looking for the first seed catalogs in the mail on December 21, the first day of winter.  And quite honestly, that IS when my seasonal depression begins – no kidding.  On the shortest day of the year, I already feel the effects of not having the sun give my body enough vitamins and my mood is affected.  So what do I do between the time I pull up my last plant from the garden and my first seed catalog arrives?

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Education Promotes Limitless Potential

All of us, at some point in our lives, are educators, teachers and role models to others.  Sometimes we don’t understand the power of the influence we have on others, especially children.  I recently talked with someone who has helped remind me how much children look up to the people who encourage them in their everyday lives.  And now I’d like to introduce him to you.

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Wednesday November 17, 2021