Elder and Knowledge Keeper Roberta Price speaks about her life and work in urban Indigenous communities during the Covid-19 pandemic

On Tuesday, November 10, UBC Learning Circle and the Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health hosted a webinar with Elder and Knowledge Keeper Roberta Price. The webinar discussed Roberta Prices’ life and role as an Elder and healer in urban Indigenous communities before, and during, the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Roberta Price is a Coast Salish Matriarch and Elder of the Snuneymuxw and Cowichan Nations who has been sharing her knowledge and experiences in classrooms for 36 years. She spoke about her experiences with reclaiming her identity after attending Residential School and using the teachings from her own Elders to help guide others to heal, and be grounded within their own identities. 

Before the pandemic Roberta travelled throughout the Lower Mainland to speak in schools and to be with patients in hospitals – to share her teachings and to heal. She hosts an Elder circle with Vancouver Coastal health to provide Elders with a sense of community and support. But since the beginning of Covid, Roberta Price has struggled with limited communication with Elders, and an inability to physically be present with the people she is called to. For her work with students in classrooms, she is now conducting her teachings through digital spaces and webinars. 

Since she cannot be physically present for those seeking guidance and support, she has made a strong effort and commitment to reaching out to Elders from her Elders Circle and to Elders who are living alone during the pandemic – to keep those lines of communication open through text, email, or phone. She talked about how important it is to not leave others in isolation during this time, as it becomes unhealthy for us when we keep things to ourselves. 

For Roberta, becoming an Elder in 2009 meant that she was called upon by other Elders and members of her community to answer to those who call for her guidance and healing. It is a role made up of the survival of her own individual experiences and how she is able to use those experiences to comfort other people who are going through similar feelings. Roberta noted that healing is a journey she will be on until Creator calls upon her, until then she plans to work on it every day. 

The webinar is available via Youtube.