Judy Pelly is a remarkable woman. She is a Cultural Advisor, a residential school survivor, and a Saulteaux Elder, although she’s hesitant to call herself one because of the tremendous knowledge and respect that Elders hold in her culture. Understanding the importance of Elders in Indigenous culture, and the risk that COVID-19 poses to the elderly in particular, gave Judy the incentive she needed to agree to receive the vaccine.
Judy grew up with seven sisters and five brothers on Cote First Nation. “It’s not far from the metropolis of Kamsack,” she laughed. Her childhood was marred by time spent in a residential school, but her spirituality would put her on a better path. She graduated from the University of Saskatchewan and became a Cultural Advisor to First Nations Métis Health Services, and more recently a Mental Health and Addictions Adult Outreach contractor.
“My experience was like so many others,” she said. “We were abused, and the personal damage was significant, but I learned that the most important thing was to talk about my experiences, so that I could release what had been pent up inside. We don’t talk about these things and it becomes an inter-generational problem that continues from parent to child.”
Judy reflected on being immunized, as she had recently received her COVID-19 vaccine: “I almost cried when they called to schedule the appointment.” She believes it’s important to talk about her experience to those she knows, as many are looking for a first-hand account. “I really had no side effects at all, and I think that may have helped other people in my personal circle decide to get immunized.”
Judy is sharing her story, so that others pause to consider receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. “It’s not only about protecting ourselves, it’s also about protecting our Elders.”
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