If Stan Louttit meets a non-Indigenous person and hears him talk about stereotypes about Indigenous people, he always takes the opportunity to educate him.
“I got into a lot of heated debates this way. But I’m passionate about telling them this because I think it raises more awareness. And it might be uncomfortable for them. But I feel like it strengthens their knowledge and makes them think, ”he says.
Louttit is a musician and writer living in Moose Factory.
He grew up in a safe, loving and nurturing home in Moose Factory, with close ties to his parents. His longing for his family is the reason he made videos honoring their lives on YouTube.
If he could give advice to his young self, he would tell himself not to be distracted.
“Train, work harder and stay focused. Pursue the goals you want to pursue in the best possible way, ”he says. “Treat people better than I sometimes did… Spend more time with your parents. Because once it’s gone, you can never get it back.
Louttit is also a bassist with Northbound 51 and Midnight Shine.
The reception given to Northbound 51’s debut album has been amazing, Louttit says, adding that receiving positive messages and emails from people is rewarding.
“It almost authenticates that we write great songs. And that gives you some assurance that the songs we write are pretty good. And people love them, ”he says. “We should just keep trying to write great songs.”
In addition to a Cree hunting drum, Louttit plays keyboards, mandolin and acoustic guitar. In high school and in his twenties, he performed in local bands in Moose Factory and outside the community.
Studying music at Humber College was a challenge for him.
Moving from Moose Factory, a small remote community, to Toronto was a culture shock, Louttit recalls. He liked that the school always invited professional musicians, including jazz pianist Oscar Peterson and bassist Dave Young. Looking back, Louttit says it was a great experience and everything he learned in school he now uses in his music.
For him, there are two ways to deal with the feeling of being blocked when writing music. If he’s in the right frame of mind and things go well, he could sit down and write a song in 10 minutes. But that doesn’t happen often. Another way is to start working and come back to the song later.
“I’ve learned over the years that you can’t force something… you have to know when to go, when to let go,” he says. “I find that trying to let go in a certain way is a good way to deal with things.”
When the pandemic hit, Louttit couldn’t just sit around wasting time. He decided to start making videos using his photographs and adding some composed music. Louttit made about two or three videos in the space of four or five months.
Through his friend, he then saw that the Red Sky Performance Company was looking for a few native composers to work on music with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Louttit applied and submitted his videos. When the deadline passed and he hasn’t heard from anyone for a week, he felt like he hadn’t been chosen. When he saw an email saying he had been selected, he was surprised.
This experience was a real challenge for Louttit because he used to write songs of three to four minutes. For the play, he had to compose music for certain moments in the play that could last less than a minute.
“You had to watch what was going on on stage and then try to write something that would improve that,” he says. The highlight of his experience was seeing the Toronto Symphony Orchestra rehearse the pieces he wrote.
“I am very happy and I appreciate the experience that was brought to me and I met good people there,” he says.
One of his dreams is to work with musicians from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra or a composer to put together a video, or visual musical presentation, based on a Cree myth called Ayash.
The myth is about right and wrong, how you should treat people and what happens when you don’t treat them right, according to Louttit.
Louttit enjoys the work he does with the Moose Cree First Nation as a writer-researcher. He is passionate about asserting Indigenous rights and always takes the opportunity to educate and debunk myths related to Indigenous peoples.
While working on a hydroelectric project agreement between Moose Cree and Ontario Power Generation, one of the telling things he learned was the damage to one of the rivers where the dams were built, and how many money was involved in the negotiations.
“I was very green, I had just finished university. I only read these things in universities, treaties and court cases, ”he explains. Louttit studied cultural anthropology at Carleton University.
“But participating in it in real life was very telling, the number of meetings that had to take place and the type of strategies we had to adopt and work with lawyers,” he says.
As a co-author of the book People of the Moose River Basin, much of his work has focused on historical research, working with Elders, environmental issues, Indigenous rights, and treaty rights.
The book was negotiated as part of the environmental assessment approval of the Lower Mattagami River Hydroelectric Project.
Louttit says the deal was sort of a reconciliation.
“And we say in the book that if we can have deals like this, this is the way to go for the future,” he says. “We should find agreements that respect each other. And we should make deals to share the wealth of income or share what we can as partners. “