I recently got some bad news from home. Reg Louttit, or Mr. Bingo as he was affectionately known, has passed away. When death comes to take someone from a small, remote community like Attawapiskat, the impact is great.
In Reg’s case, he was such a prominent personality and integral to the fabric that helpshold Attawapiskat together. One thing I know about Reg, he could not have chosen a betterplace himself for leaving this world. Apparently he suffered a heart attack and passedaway in his goose blind while on the spring goose hunt. I know he always looked forward to the spring goose hunt.
A loss such as this is felt by everyone in the community. He was a leader and he led ina special, quiet way that featured a lot of good humour. In addition to having served asthe Chief of Attawapiskat, he has also held many prominent roles in the community. Reg was one of Attawapiskat’s best ambassadors and over the years he served on many committees and traveled a greatdeal. Even though he was an elder and held high positions, Reg was very down-to-earth and ready and willing to make time for anyone he met during his day.
Strangely enough, he will mostly be remembered and greatly missed for his nightly radio bingo program. As Recreational Director, he used the program to raise funds forsports teams, events, needy causes and most recently the newly constructed community arena. Over the past few years, Reg and his regular bingo program became a familiar andhappy point in the day for every household in Attawapiskat.
We James Bay Crees take our bingo very seriously. At my home, as in most, at nineevery night the bingo cards were brought out and family and friends gathered aroundthe radio to hear Reg call out the numbers, crack a few jokes, tell a few stories andthen announce the new winners, all in Cree of course. When people won they were ecstatic and everyone in the household exploded into cries of joy; a fast phone call was made to Reg at the radio station to verify the win and then it was a short drive or walk over to the radio station to pick up the prize money. If you didn’t win it was no big deal; people just looked at each other, shrugged and said, “There’s always tomorrow.”
I guess that’s another reason why Reg’s passing has had such a great effect on this remote community of less than 2,000 people. Reg’s simple little radio program was one of the few things we could all really count on in a place where it sometimes seemed difficult to find an anchor. Reg was an anchor.
I was not home for the funeral but I heard it was a big one with people coming from far and wide. There was a memorial gathering in his name at the brand new arena that he worked so hard to help make a reality. My family tells me the community leaders are considering naming this very prominent building in his name. I think that is a great idea.
There is only one problem; nine o’clock in the evening in Attawapiskat will never bethe same without Reg.