MNBC Culture Series: Janet Romain (Issue #4)

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Janet is a proud Métis author living near Fort Fraser, BC. She expresses herself by writing books, short stories, and poems. She writes from her heart and explores topics that we all face and can relate to;  who we are as a society, how the sometimes harsh lessons of life can be learned, how forgiveness does not mean forgetfulness and how, most of all, a survivor faces tomorrow.

Her family (from both sides) moved to Vancouver from Northern Saskatchewan, shortly after WW2. This is where Janet was born. They did not live the city for very long however, and found themselves in north central BC. Janet has eight siblings and they were raised out in the bush without power or running water. Her folks joked that they did have running water, it just ran up the hill in buckets.

Janet has always felt a strong connection to the land. She has always known that the earth is alive and sacred and she believes it is fully capable of righting the wrongs perpetuated on it. She feels that everyone has a responsibility to do whatever they can do to make sure their personal choices are positive for both the earth and themselves. Janet uses her writing to express her thoughts about the environment.  The Nechako River flows through her home and she was part of the community group, A River Forever (ARF), which formed to protect their precious water resource. She has also written a poem, titled “Nechako Diversion” that expresses her concerns.

Janet has held many jobs over her lifetime. During high school she worked as a short order cook, then after graduation she pumped gas, then got a job in a sawmill as a lumber grader. She then moved to Calgary where she worked for the Red Cross blood donor unit. Then then she worked in a bank, married her love, and moved back home to the Fort Fraser area.  Once back home, she applied for agricultural lease land and raised cattle for 20 years. She also ran an organic CSA vegetable program, in partnership with another couple. They grew all the produce and delivered it. At the peak of the program, they were supplying 167 families with weekly vegetables from June until October.  Over the summer months, Janet now works for Stellat'en First Nation as a garden consultant. They have established a very successful community garden that supplies the community with fresh produce during the summer and into the fall. They also educate the summer students in all aspects of gardening.

Janets husband was an owner/operator truck driver, hauling logs for the sawmills. He used to go to work at 3 a.m., and when he left Janet would write. Those early morning hours of writing began with poetry, one of her loves.

Janet’s first novel is called ‘Grandpѐre’, it was written by giving the muse within free flow. She just sat at the computer and typed. She was often surprised at what direction the novel took but she let it create itself. ‘Grandpѐre’ can be described as a tender story of determination, loss and family love.

Not my Fate’ is Janet’s second, and most recent, book (both books have been published by Caitlin Press). This book was written because it holds importance, both from a personal perspective and a societal reminder for Canadians. Janet believes our country is learning through the Truth and Reconciliation process that it has been guilty of terrible crimes against Aboriginal peoples. The person who she calls Jo in the book is a Nisga’a citizen, born into adverse conditions, who has lived her whole life off reserve, and the fact that she is alive, healthy and happy is a tribute to a personal strength that shines within. Jo is not her real name, but she is a real person and a very good friend of Janets. They have known each other for many years and it took many years of friendship before “Jo” shared some of her story with Janet. Janet was honoured to learn her story and have the opportunity to write it and share it.

When Janet is not writing or working in a garden, you can find her building twig furniture and making jams, jellies and salsa for sale at markets for her company, Tilted Heart Gifts. She learned most of what I know about plants and gardening from books (Rodales and Eliot Coleman were big influences) and from her Grandparents, who loved to garden. Just knowing that everything needed for food and medicine is right here on the land made Janet want to know how to find and use those things. She strongly believes all areas in BC should be able to feed themselves and it makes her happy to see the steps more people are taking in that direction. She is also a proud mother of three children and nine grandchildren. She will be blessed with a great-grandchild this February.

Janet Romain website: http://janetromain.com/

Not my fate – Caitlin Press: http://caitlin-press.com/our-books/not-my-fate/

Grandpѐre – Caitlin Press: http://caitlin-press.com/our-books/grandpere/