Elder Liz Settee focuses on youth
- Leah Marie Dorion | April 03, 2021
The March edition of Eagle Feather News was dedicated to Indigenous women. We asked several Indigenous women to write about Indigenous women. This is one of those stories.
Living and working in Prince Albert, Elder Liz Settee is a lifelong advocate for the healing of Indigenous youth and families.
When I first met Liz, she embodied grandmotherly strength, love, and leadership. Her warm bear hugs immediately made me feel a sense of belonging and acceptance. Liz is direct and honest with her teachings and many P.A. youth have adopted her as the grandmother figure in their lives. Liz always teaches the youth to connect their head with their hearts so they can live in their own truth. I love listening to her “Liz-isms,” which are catchy sayings and phrases based on her traditional teachings.
I asked Liz about how she promotes wellness and healing with community members and about her primary goal in life to restore our cultural knowledge with Indigenous youth. She currently works as an Elder with the P.A. Youth Outreach, in partnership with Saskatchewan Rivers School Division, and often provides cultural awareness to the students, staff and administration in the region.
Liz shared how she has a cart she uses to go classroom to classroom to bless and conduct smudging ceremonies with students who want that form of self-care. Liz makes no apologies for bringing Indigenous culture into the schools and she has to constantly educate others about why culture is vital in our educational system, but she does it with dignity and respect.
I asked Liz to share one of the most memorable community projects she has been involved with and she credited the Heart of the Youth Powwow because it gives youth pride, belonging, and healing. The powwow has also enriched Liz’s own cultural knowledge, she proudly says.
“This year’s powwow is non-binary, as so many of our youth have requested this, and we are responding to their needs.”
Liz is a life-long learner and is humble about her own journey to learn culture and language. Her late father Tom Settee was impacted by the residential school system, so the language and many cultural practices were not passed forward to her generation. As such, Liz wants our children to be free of any barriers and stigma when they want to learn their culture and teachings. Thus, she is the Elder with the new Cree Immersion Kindergarten program offered this year at John Diefenbaker School.
Liz has experienced her own recovery and healing journey, and speaks openly about this process. Liz promotes traditional cultural healing methods in our community especially reconnecting urban youth and families with the land and traditional medicines. She is so happy that she is still physically able to, “attend ceremonies, harvest medicines, and be active in the culture.”
Liz carries the traditional name “Yellow Calf,” and we both had a big belly laugh about how fitting her name is since she is called to work with little ones and how she wanders where she is needed with a child-like innocence. She says, “even though I have seen 63 winters, I feel my journey is just beginning.