Carleton University today conferred a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, on Thomas R. Louttit in recognition of his wise leadership and gracious service to the community as an Elder and the inspiration he offers those he mentors and those privileged to witness his actions, which constitute an honourable model of personal reconciliation and education.
Louttit was honoured during Carleton’s Fall Convocation. More than 1,200 students received their degrees during two ceremonies.
“It is a pleasure to join these fine young people in celebrating their accomplishments,” said Louttit. “This day marks the conclusion of this part of their lives and represents much hard work on their part. As they leave university, they have the opportunity to do something special with their lives. They can volunteer and give back to society. They can reach out to share their learnings through tutoring, mentoring and serving others. Not everyone has the opportunity to attend university.“
In the early 1980s, Louttit began to construct a life free of destructive patterns that he addressed through traditional ceremonies. In 1994, he graduated from the three-year Ontario Native Counsellors Program. He describes himself as an Oskabay-wis, “a helper to the people.“ He is a traditional Sweat Lodge Keeper and the Keeper of the Traditional Pipe.
For the past 25 years, he has been facilitating traditional healing circles, mostly for men. Louttit is highly sought after by schools and community groups to speak about residential school experience and share his personal healing journey. Presently, he provides Elders services for government and community agencies. In 2014, the Aboriginal Veterans of Canada presented him with the Queen’s Jubilee Metal.
“As he has done on so many occasions, over decades, and with great courage and sensitivity, Thomas speaks the truth of his past,” said Sandra Dyck, director of the Carleton University Art Gallery. “In so doing, he speaks the truth of Canada’s history. But he does not dwell there. He has dedicated himself to preserving, building and sharing the language, culture and traditional practices that the residential school system tried to extinguish in him, and to supporting, teaching and encouraging others on their own journeys.”
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