Healing by tradition at PikwÓkanagÓn
By Connie White - Staff Reporter - Barry's Bay This Week - June 26, 2002

Jeorgina Larocque is looking forward to teaching her granddaughter to be a Medicine Woman.

As a young girl growing up in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, Ms Larocque learned the skill from her grandmother. And not only was she a student, she was also a patient.

"I was a sickly child taking convulsions." Ms Larocque says.

Saturday mornings were always the best. That was our time, our day. She would take me out into the garden and woods," she explains from her office in the basement at the Family Crisis Centre on the Golden Lake Reserve.

"First and foremost, I learned how to heal with plants," Ms Larocque says.

"All plants are connected, from the dandelion to the sunflower to daisies. She taught me about so many plants growing out in the wild."

But, it wasn't until 20 years ago that Ms Larocque began to use her skills as a traditional healer. For the years prior, Ms Larocque raised her family, took in foster children and worked with a mental health agency.

Then, she returned to school for business management and "became part of the political scene. I was working on Indian rights for Indian women from 1976 to 1984."

But she realized the political life "was not the pathway for me."

Her son became ill and her husband developed lung problems. "I went back to being a healer. I had to take care of me and my family," Ms Larocque says.

She began healing in the community, spreading news of her talent through word of mouth. She treats anyone from newborn to the elderly.

"I started on somebody who had a cold. I suggest ways to help themselves." she says.

Ms Larocque says each patient is different regardless of the illness. "What plants or methods I use for one is not used for another," she says.

She encourages people to go to their family doctors.

"I'm not a physician and I don't pretend to be. I am there when the physician can no longer do any more," she says.

But, she must also gain the trust of people.

"I get the trust by the way I act and the way I talk. I am respected among my people - The elders know who I am."

She also heals with prayer and herbs, which are traditional, while many of today's western ways are achieved through chemical medications.

In recent years, many people have sought out Ms Larocque because "herbals have become a big thing again."

As for how long treatments last she says, "I stay with the person until they no longer need me or their time to cross over has happened."

And although her teachings are native, Ms Larocque says, "I treat anyone. The creator did not put a sign on any one person. We are a circle of one nation. Colour and religion do not play a big part.

A medicine woman does not only treat the illness.

"I not only work with the physical, but with the emotions. There are emotions and spirits to work with." says Ms Larocque. Sometimes it's a-cup of tea because they may be nervous. This is something new to them. I want to put them at ease."

For those who are familiar with native healing, Ms Larocque says rattling and drumming may be used.

"Sometimes I just listen not just with my ears, but with my heart. Whatever is necessary will happen."

Ms Larocque now lives in Almonte, but has been coming to the reserve for six years, but not on a regular basis.

Now, she has office hours on the Reserve Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. To reach her, call 625-1382.

Her healing techniques are free. Why?

"Grandma gave it to me and did not charge me to learn. The earth gives me the plants for free."

Ms Larocque also goes to herbal farms for her healing plants, but she enjoys going into the woods "and finding out what's in the wild."

To supplement her income, Ms Larocque conducts lectures and hosts workshops.

However, office hours really mean nothing to this traditional healer.

"There's not enough hours in the day. I never know when I'm going to get the call. I've gotten calls from around the world." she says.

Ms Larocque says what she has is a gift. But, even with a gift of this type. she says for those who come to her for healing, a cure will not happen over night.

"I'm working with herbals. I take the individual to a state of health where they are comfortable. It will not happen overnight, And the patient has to be willing to change their life. Something has created the discomfort she says.

'There's a lot of work before the healing begins. I don't do the healing. It is them and the creator or God, or whatever term you use. I'm the ambassador. I'm the connector. People have to believe in something, even if it's just themselves. You need the energy outside the body. You can't force it, like the wind."

She wears a T-shirt under her traditional garb of beaded dresses and shawls.

"The T-shirts are gifts. The shawl has many uses. It can be used as a basket to carry plants, I can sit on it on the ground. I can wrap a child in it," Ms Larocque. says.

She also wear moccasins because, "I want to feel the earth under me."

Around her head, Ms Larocque also wears a headband.

"My grandmother wore it. It's great against headaches. It also protects me from people's energy. The good to the not-so-good. I don't need to pick up anyone's bad energy."

Around her neck, Ms Larocque has a crystal on a necklace. "I like the energy from it."

She also has a bear tooth on a chain, which was a gift from her daughter. However, the gift of healing will skip a generation this time around.

"I'm passing it down to my granddaughter, who is now 11 years old. When she's ready she will come to me" Ms Larocque says.

"I knew before (my granddaughter) was born. She came to be before she was born. I knew. who she was. At the-birthing, I knew she was the one. She has all the colour of a full native."

Ms Larocque says she is beginning to see the gifts in her granddaughter that she is almost ready to learn the traditional methods.

Ms Larocque is happy her granddaughter will take up the teachings to become a healer, as she recalls her grandmother's words just prior to her death "Don't let it die with you."

"Becoming a healer is not an easy path. There is a lot of time spent alone during the learning years. It's a way of walking in one with the earth."

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