Wall of Honouree Judy Pelly (BEd'85)

Judy Pelly was recognized by the College of Education for her service to the community and her lifetime achievements in education

The College of Education is pleased to recognize Judy Pelly (BEd'85) as a 2023 Wall of Honour Alumni Award recipient. Judy was recognized at the Pinning Ceremony and Wall of Honour Celebration on April 3, 2023. 

Makate Pinasek hails from the Cote First Nation. She was born and raised among Knowledge Keepers, Wisdom Holders, and Lodge Keepers. Also known as Judy Mae Pelly, she was born to a family of 10 siblings, and with an extended family who nurtured her traditional education since childhood. Titles she now holds are Knowledge Keeper and Cultural Advisor, both earned through her life-long traditional education.

She is a proud Anishinaabe – Saulteaux woman. Raised primarily by her grandparents on the land, and in the sacred lodges, Makate Pinasek embraced the teachings of the Elders around her. A prolific visitor of the Old People, as a child she spent many days in the counsel of grandparents. Rain or shine, she would trudge across the fields to visit and learn. An activity she still undertakes today, visiting and counseling others now herself. 

Judy is a mother to three sons, and Kookom to five grandchildren.

As a Residential School Survivor Judy’s reflection and experience on her boarding school education at the St. Phillips Residential School has served to bridge relationships between all people.

Judy was one of the first students to enroll in the newly established Indian Teacher Education Program in 1973, where she obtained her teaching certificate and later finished her Bachelor of Education degree in 1985. She moved to Alberta and worked with Alberta Learning as an Education Manager for 15 years, before returning to Saskatoon. She has worked in various capacities with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and retired from the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies as Dean of Community and Health Studies in 2015 after 21 years of service. 

A humble leader, Judy relentlessly gives of her time and knowledge and works with over 30 organizations on issues of Truth and Reconciliation as a cultural advisor. She shares her knowledge of the Anishinaabe way of life and protocol to help others understand the importance of growing together in communities, businesses, service-industries, schools, and homes.

"A lot of things have happened since the three commisioners went across Canada and wrote the TRC Calls to Action . . . the history is real. It's not made up. And we can do something as educators," Judy shared during the ceremony on April 3. "We can make a difference in this world. I talk about the seven sacred teachings. If we all lived according to the seven sacred teachings we wouldn't have the chaos we have today." 

Judy serves as an Advisor to the Office of the Treaty Commissioner, the City of Saskatoon –Saskatoon City Police Victim Services, the RCMP Indigenous Women’s Advisory Group, and the Saskatoon Elder/Survivor Group. Judy also counsels the Saskatchewan Centre for Patient-Oriented Research and the Network Environments for Indigenous Health Research, both based here at the University of Saskatchewan. Judy’s services include working with the Saskatchewan Health Authority Mental Health and Addiction Services Adult Outreach. Following decades of using alcohol to numb the pain of abuse endured at residential schools and in an abusive marriage, Judy found emotional healing, inner peace, and sobriety in her 40s and shares her story and journey to counsel others, many of whom credit her with saving their lives. In sharing her own story, she inspires others to keep striving to achieve their hopes and dreams.

At the Student Pinning and Wall of Honour Ceremony held on April 3, Judy had the following words for the 250 students receiving their Education Pins that evening: 

"Be the change that you want to see in the world. You have all these little children that will see you more than their parents. Remember that. You set the mood for them. You create the environment whether it's positive or negative. You are responsible for the environment that you create for the little people that are in your care."