U of S professor says fixing social safety net best way to keep Saskatoon women safe

A professor at the University of Saskatchewan says stronger social programs might be one of the best ways to keep women safe.

Priscilla Settee is working with the city on a list of recommendations to help vulnerable women

A woman in shadows holds her head in her hands.
Stronger social programs are needed to keep women safe, says Priscilla Settee, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan. (Shutterstock)

A University of Saskatchewan professor says stronger social programs might be one of the best ways to keep women safe.

Priscilla Settee, a faculty member in the Department of Indigenous Studies at the U of S, is studying how to make women safer in Saskatoon.

She's working with the city to create a list of recommendations to protect women and combat everything from human trafficking to domestic abuse.

"We need to think about what social safety nets have been broken down for the city's most vulnerable," Settee said. "And I'm talking about things like housing, affordable housing, safe injection sites, full employment and safety from violence."

For decades, Settee has worked to make women's lives better. Earlier in her career, she worked to set up domestic violence shelters in Prince Albert, about 140 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon.

Women are falling through the cracks

Even though she now works in academia, Settee said she still sees many of her students falling through the cracks.

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"I've had lots of occasions where women in my classrooms have not had guaranteed child care, effective child care, and so it has impacted their studies," she said.

"We have to get back to the practices of a caring society."

Settee has been doing research and speaking to experts across the country for the project.

Ultimately, she said keeping women safe is dependent on government action.

"We're only as safe as the very weakest community member," she said.

"Saskatchewan, back in the day, was established on very caring principles. And we need to return back to those."

Settee is one of the speakers at the We Rise conference, presented by the Saskatchewan First Nations Women's Commission, which runs online from March 24 to March 26.