Makwa Sahgaiechan mourns passing of elder

Senator Alma Kytwayhat, March 2009 (Photo submitted)

By Mac Christie

A funeral was held in Loon Lake last week, as the Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation said goodbye to one of its elders, Alma Kytwayhat.

She lost her battle with cancer on Sept.18 at the age of 69.

A beloved community member, she was remembered by many as an important figure, not only in the community, but across the province and the country.

For Anita Pooyak, Kytwayhat was a mentor, friend, and though not by birth, a mother.

“I lost a mother that nurtured me as a mother would nurture her own biological child,” said Pooyak of her aunt, who raised her and four other family members, as well as her own four children. “She had a very caring heart.”

But Pooyak noted on top of the personal loss, Kytwayhat’s passing is a tremendous loss for the community.

“She played a very large role as one of the traditional elders in the community,” she added. “She was a role model and a teacher on so many levels.”

Delbert Wapass, chief of Thunderchild First Nation, where Kytwayhat was originally from, agreed.

“She was always very positive and strong in promoting the Cree cultural way of living life,” he noted. “She was very focused on young people understanding who we are and where we came from.”

Wapass added Kytwayhat was involved in many different programs, including acting as a cultural advisor at Bold Eagle, the aboriginal military program.

But Kytwayhat was involved in much more than Bold Eagle. She did extensive work with the Office of the Treaty Commissioner and the Meadow Lake Tribal Council. She also served on the Senate of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, and was the Elder-in-Residence for Greater Saskatchewan Catholic Schools, where she was responsible for teaching both teachers and students the importance of treaty rights.

Helen Ben, former chief of Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation and head of the Meadow Lake Tribal Council, said the community has lost a wonderful person.

“She was a strong, determined woman,” Ben noted. “She cared about trying to make sure people came together and had good values.”

While Ben said Kytwayhat’s family will miss her most, she added her counsel will be missed.

“There were many times I called upon her to seek her guidance,” she said.
But while her passing will leave a void, Kytwayhat’s teachings will remain.

“I think she’s imparted her knowledge and her teachings for quite some time and I think those will live on,” Ben said. “She would be proud to know we’re holding on to that knowledge and those teachings.”

2 Responses to “Makwa Sahgaiechan mourns passing of elder”
  1. Lorraine E Stone says:

    A wonderful spirit this elder was…she truly cared from her bias bone in her body. She will be truly missed on all levels of our native we know you will be watching and loving us from over there….hye hye

  2. Eduardo Vallerio says:

    My thoughts and feelings go to the great elder Alma Kytwahat and to her family.
    She was a wonderful person and an inspired Elder. I will never forget her teachings.
    For sure her Spirit is in Heaven watching for us.
    Thank you Alma for your teachings and example of life.
    Hey Hey, Alma.

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