September 13, 1946 - June 30, 2021
Funeral Home Wojcik's Funeral Chapel
Peacefully on June 30, 2021, Bernice went to be with the Lord. She is survived by her husband of 52 years Jacob Friesen; her daughter Jacqueline (Douglas); grandchildren David and Sarah; grand dog Ellie; two sisters and a brother. Bernice was predeceased by her parents George and Sarah (McLeod); siblings Donald, Ivy and Victor; her cherished daughter Bonnie; God daughter Darlene; and furry companions Poky, Bootsie, Charlie and Makwa.
Bernice was the epitome of a kind, pure soul, strong in her convictions, simple in her wants. A committed Christian, wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, cousin, neighbour, animal and nature lover, cook, baker and knitter. She had a warm heart and open arms for anyone she met.
Her oral storytelling about experiences growing up in Norway House, along the banks of the Nelson River will be treasured by anyone who had the privilege to hear her account of being raised in ‘the North’. She shared loving memories of caring grandparents, and cousins strongly rooted in Christianity. Bernice learned at an early age the value of hard work and determination. She said she often missed school to care for her two younger brothers and sister. She loved cooking, and cleaning at her dad’s Fisher Bay retreat, but unfortunately was prevented from being there in recent years.
Bernice’s family moved from Norway House, travelling down Lake Winnipeg on the S.S. Kenora, to Grand Rapids. She eventually moved by herself to Winnipeg. Where she independently pursued training and courses as she spent her life working in service for others including respite and counselling support.
She took care of her sister-in-laws’ children when they visited Winnipeg, helped raise her younger siblings, and often welcomed them into her home to live or stay over the holidays. Her house was a welcome place for anyone needing love or care. Despite experiencing racism, being scolded for speaking her Cree language at school while growing up, she valued and advocated for her children, and grandchildren to pursue higher levels of education. She was proud to speak her Cree language throughout her life, including blessings at weddings and other celebrations. She never missed her granddaughter’s performances at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and often cheered on her grandson while he played basketball, learning recently that he will play at Canadian Mennonite University.
Over the last few weeks, Bernice received the gift of loving care, in the comfort and security of her family home. Along with her immediate family, she was attended to with compassion and dignity by her loving sister and best friend Agnes, Dr. Haresha and the many giving and dedicated health care professionals from St. Boniface, Grace and Concordia hospitals. She also experienced the ‘kindness of strangers’ by the Home Care and Palliative Care staff including Lori, Anita, Amanda, Jade, Irene, Monica to name only a few of the ‘angels’ who assisted with
Bernice’s wishes to spend her final days in the privacy and comfort of her own home.
Due to COVID restrictions, and as per Bernice’s wishes, private arrangements have been made with immediate family.
Bernice will never be replaced, or forgotten, and will always be cherished.