An acupuncturist’s new beginnings in Inverness County

February 27, 2024

When Jenece Gerber was crossing the Canso Causeway with her partner in late October 2018, she found herself surrounded by falling snow. This was her introduction to a new life in Inverness County.

When The Participaper sat down with her in October, she’d been practising as a registered acupuncturist for almost a year at the Inverness Chiropractic and Wellness Collective.

The health centre was established by Dr. Kristen Sutherland in 2014 and offers chiropractic treatment, massage therapy, mental health counseling, and nutritional consulting.

“It’s a multidimensional space that works really well,” Gerber said.

Gerber became fascinated with acupuncture after a friend convinced her to try it for her chronic pain.

“I walked in with a lot of pain, and I walked out pain-free,’” she recalled.

She received a couple more treatments after her first visit, and has been pain-free for 10 years. Now, she hopes to share access to acupuncture with other people.

Aside from acupuncture, Gerber is also a Reiki master and practices sound healing. She is also a musician and has a PhD in music composition, a master’s degree in both vocal performance and in composition, as well as an undergraduate degree in ethnomusicology.

“To me, the connection is music, it has always been a healing thing,” she said.

She moved from Ohio to Buffalo, NY to study at the University at Buffalo. Her original plan was to stay in Buffalo and teach at the university, but her plans shifted, she said, because there isn’t a lot of room for a career in that field. Academia also didn’t allow her the kind of creativity that she craved.

She then worked in banking for 10 years, but it wasn’t what she wanted long-term either.

When she met her partner, who was in Ontario at the time, and their relationship blossomed, they began looking for a place to start a life together.

“I needed to change up everything in my life and I was willing to try something new, and ready for an adventure,” she said.

On their search for a new home, they came across a house in rough shape on a sizable piece of land outside Mabou that was reasonably priced.

“It really called to us, we stepped out of the car and felt like the land was saying ‘welcome home,’” she recalled.

They took a leap of faith, purchased the property, and relocated.

A woman wearing a white coat takes the pulse of a person lying down.
Jenece Gerber recently joined the team at Inverness Chiropractic, offering patients treatments in acupuncture. She is also a Reiki master and practices sound healing. Photo by Dave MacNeil

The move enabled them to start over. “Here I was with a blank slate to create something different in my life,” Gerber said.

It was an opportunity to do something new, and that opportunity presented itself as an acupuncture school in Bedford, NS.

The day after Gerber received her permanent residency, she applied to the Canadian College of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Attending virtual school during the pandemic in rural Cape Breton, however, came with its challenges, but her neighbours came together to support her.

When she graduated in December 2022, she knew she wanted to start her practice in Cape Breton.

Acupuncture as wellness

The holistic and body-centered approach to healing drew Gerber to the practice and it was something she was eager to begin offering to people in the area.

“Acupuncture really calls upon the body to self-heal,” she said.

The Western medical approach to health is skilled at working with individual pieces of the body, she said, whereas Asian medicine looks at the system of the body as a whole.

“Both approaches have really important purposes. And I think optimal health and wellness treatments incorporate both modalities.”

She sees a tremendous need for acupuncture in Inverness County.

“I’ve had patients come back after a couple treatments like new people, with a new lease on life,” she said.

It is not a miracle treatment, she underlined, but rather aims to help manage patients’ pain.

“If patients can get to a place where even a couple treatments a year can keep them in a state where they’re able to do the things that they love, then they can see hope for the future. That changes everything in their lives.”

When she started the practice in February this year, she thought it would be a slow start.

“But I’ve been busy from the very beginning. Consistently busy,” she said. “There’s really a spirit of a collective approach to wellness. I get and make referrals from the doctors at the hospital here all the time…We’re developing this beautiful relationship that is patient-focused.”

As for Gerber’s future goals with her practice, she said she is in a perpetual state of growth.

Jenece Gerber, shown here playing the Celtic harp, has a PhD in music composition, a master’s degree in vocal performance and another in composition, as well as an undergraduate degree in ethnomusicology. Photo courtesy Jenece Gerber

“There are so many different ways to practise acupuncture and Chinese medicine that I’m learning all the time.”

The direction of her practice, she said, is dictated by the needs of her patients. And being able to carry out her passion in Inverness County is an added bonus.

“We find this such an amazing place to be, so inspirational just walking outside the door. And we really love the community here,” she said.