After fighting cancer for two years, Mushkegowuk Grand Chief Stan J. Louttit has succumbed to the disease at 64 years old. He leaves behind his wife, Sharon, four daughters and nine grandchildren.
According to Mushkegowuk Deputy Grand Chief Leo Friday, Louttit’s passing came as a shock to his coworkers. While it was well known that Louttit was sick, Friday said he wasn’t expecting him to pass before the fall.
Friday described Louttit as a fighter for his people.
“He was the kind of guy who could work with anybody. He was an open kind of guy with a big heart. He would tell you what needs to be done and what he wanted to be done. He was a very open-hearted and open-minded person. If there was something wrong he would tell you and try to help you,” said Friday.
“Our Grand Chief was a great warrior. When people called him from up North he would go without hesitation to support the communities and see what is going on. That was the kind of man he was,” he went on to say.
Saddened by the news, Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come also made a statement:
“I have known Grand Chief Stan for several years. Stan was a man of great integrity, respectful and a powerful voice of reason,” said Coon Come.
“Grand Chief Stan was never afraid to get his hands dirty and was always in the middle of any issue that directly affected his people of the eastern coast of James Bay. He will surely be missed by his family and friends for his humour, for his wisdom and for his friendship.”
In a press release on behalf of himself and MPP Gilles Bisson, Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus spoke of Louttit as a leader.
“Stan worked with the entire region to improve life for everyone. He was really active in pursuing economic development opportunities that would bring wealth to Timmins-James Bay,” Angus said.
“He loved life. He loved music, the Montreal Canadiens… but most of all he loved people, and that’s something he should be remembered for.”
On June 13, as Louttit was being laid to rest, Angus honoured him in the House of Commons, speaking of his many accolades and passions.
Louttit was born on April 29, 1950, on his family trapline on Lake River, north of Attawapiskat. While he was a member of the Fort Albany First Nation, he grew up in Attawapiskat.
At the time of his death he was serving his third consecutive four-year term as Grand Chief of Mushkegowuk Council and had been active in local and regional issues both as an administrator and elected politician for the last quarter of a century.
Over the course of his lengthy career he held positions with Department of Indian Affairs, Moose Factory General Hospital (Health Canada) and Moose Cree First Nation. In his political career he contested elected positions with the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (Deputy Grand Chief, five years) and before being elected by the seven Mushkegowuk communities as the Grand Chief of the Mushkegowuk Council in 2003 with reelections in 2007 and 2011.
Over the course of his career Louttit was honoured many times for his achievements. He received a Ministerial Award and the Governor General’s Medal of Bravery for his work during the Winisk flood of 1986, the Emile Nakogee Leadership Award of Excellence during his term as Deputy Grand Chief of NAN and his appointment to an Expert Panel on Water by the federal Minister of Indian Affairs based on his efforts during the Kashechewan Water Crisis in 2005.
More recently he received an honorary Doctorate Degree in Education from Nipissing University in June 2012.