They were on the lakeside close to the family dwelling, which was a large canvas tent, and Angie would not stray. Her grandmother, she recalls, provided explicit instructions about being very patient when trapping. She had to leave the place alone to permit the process to take its course. Little Angie couldn’t wait till the grandparents went to sleep and she approached her fledgling trap-line to see if she was enriched. She stuck her six year old hand into the squirrel-sized cubby hole and trapped herself, snap. “Ouch,” she hollered, with a sudden affinity for nature, for the squirrel that wasn't there.
It was a lesson that she can freshly recall, and she smiles about the painful few minutes while she inspects her feminine fingers. This trapping snarl proved to be the end of Angelique Merasty Levac's life as a trapper (and a few families of bushy tailed squirrels have reason to chatter in gratitude). Those years in the lakes district straddling the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border were made up of the old itinerant way of connecting with the land and which had ever made the vast domain their home. Angie’s grandpa always found it necessary to break camp and find a different place every few weeks, for he was a trapper, hunter, and fisherman. "My grandpa never lived in one place," Angie explained, and the family packed their large tent and barrel stove and set off looking for the right place in a particular time of year. She said it was a lean existence.
"I used to help my grandmother gather branches she used to make a floor inside the tent. There was nothing to play with when I was a child,” a fact she once pointed out to her grandma. She told her she wanted a doll, so her grandma made Angie a doll. “Do you know what my doll was? We had a flour sack and she tied up the bag into a rag doll, eyes made from the soot of the fire. That was my doll.”
At 9 years of age Angie began to spend more time with her mother and less time with her grandparents when she came to be old enough to be more help to her mother, who was by now raising most of the twelve children she bore on the Lynn Lake railroad line in northern Manitoba.
At this point Angie remembers watching the birch bark biting when she went out with ladies on berry picking sojourns. “The blue berries found in burned out areas, and cranberries found in forested places.” It was the cranberry picking trips where she saw the women take respite to conduct little competitions. They would peel birch bark and make pieces of art with their teeth but Angie was too young to think much about it. It was a first impression of the way the ladies had social exchanges by causing exquisite artistic impressions by birch bark biting. She remembers a few of them got tossed away.