Coming Home

At 85, Metis elder James Settee became the oldest man ever to be ordained a priest in the Anglican Communion. Photo: Courtesy of the Settee family
At 85, Metis elder James Settee became the oldest man ever to be ordained a priest in the Anglican Communion. Photo: Courtesy of the Settee family
By on March 24, 2011

PHOTO SLIDESHOW

The tour schedule for the 2009 documentary about the life of the late Anglican priest and Saskatchewan Metis Elder, the Rev. James Settee, has been extended after a successful run in communities throughout Saskatchewan.

At 85, Settee became the oldest man ever to be ordained a priest in the Anglican Communion. But many also know him for having translated John Newton’s Amazing Grace into Cree.

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“Jim helped people come home through heritage, nature, community, education, spirituality, family, humour and love,” said Metis filmmaker Jeanne Corrigal in an email exchange with the Anglican Journal. “The film offers these teachings and invites viewers to consider the ways that we come ‘home’ in our lives.”

For Corrigal, who is sharing her 48-minute film, Jim Settee: The Way Home, with the support of the Saskatchewan Arts Board’s Culture on the Go and the Metis Cultural Development Fund, the film represents a very personal journey. She first met Jim when she was a young girl and years later, he became a spiritual mentor, who “taught by living the teaching of unconditional loving,” said Corrigal. During the making of the film, she discovered that Settee’s kindness and compassion “helped people of many traditions and cultures come home, spiritually, physically, emotionally.”

Settee died in 2005 at the age of 94. He was the great-grandson of the missionary, James Settee– one of three missionaries who brought the gospel to the La Ronge and Stanley Mission area in Saskatchewan.

Corrigal’s film explores how Settee enriched the lives of aboriginal and non-aboriginal people he met throughout his life as a tracker, park warden, community builder, oral historian, elder and eventually, as a priest. The film contains photographs and interviews with Settee, his family members and friends, and provides a window into the struggles of the Metis people in northern Saskatchewan. When Prince Albert National Park was developed in 1927, for instance, Native people were uprooted from the lands of their ancestors. Status Indians were moved to reserves, but it was not until 18 years later that Settee and other Metis leaders succeeded in negotiating with the government for the creation of the Fish Lake settlement for displaced Metis families.

The film also touches on issues around care for the land as well as the Indian residential schools.

The Way Home has had over 80 public screenings, and Corrigal said the film has a profound impact on viewers. One person wrote: “I’m a person of Irish background, yet I felt [at] one with the people in the movie. The loss of homeland is tragic, yet the portrayal was not bitter, but forgiving and building on positive image-the connection with nature, being present in the moment, finding your centre and connecting with others.”

For more information on film screenings, to book a reservation, or to purchase a DVD, contact Leanne Kadyschuk at [email protected] or call (306) 384-3791. The film is also currently broadcast on the Aboriginal People’s Television Network (APTN).

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