Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck:
Honourable senators, how a country remembers its past shapes
its future. As proud Canadians, we must remember our past,
our history and our heroes. Telling our stories of great
accomplishments instills pride.
Honourable senators, today I wish to share an amazing story
about Billy Loutit, a Métis mail runner and his
great-granddaughter Shannon. Their story exemplifies the
strength, bravery and accomplishments of Métis people.
On July 18, 2008, along with my colleague the Honourable
Grant Mitchell, I participated in the opening ceremony for
the 100 Mile Journey - To Bring a Hero's Spirit Home at the
Edmonton legislative grounds. The purpose of this special
event was to commemorate and honour Billy Loutit.
He spent many of his childhood years learning from the land
surrounding his home community, Fort Chipewyan, Alberta. He
became an accomplished hunter, trapper and riverboat man.
In Athabasca's 1904 flood, Billy Loutit ran from Athabasca
to Fort Edmonton with an important emergency message. He ran
the 100 miles in a mere 16 hours, one hour quicker than
another messenger sent on horseback.
One hundred years later, in 2004, Shannon Loutit learned
about her great-grandfather Billy's 100-mile run. She was so
inspired that she literally gave up smoking, got off the
couch and began to run. She completed the Boston Marathon
and decided to retrace Billy's historic 100-mile journey of
On July 18 of last year, Shannon Loutit, who lives in
Saskatoon, ran from Edmonton to Athabasca in just over 24
hours to pay tribute to her great-grandfather Billy, the
Honourable senators, I commend Shannon Loutit for her
endurance, her determination and her devotion in running to
honour the spirits of our ancestors, our heroes and our
history. Shannon is documenting her awe-inspiring 100-mile
run in a film and in a book.
Honourable senators, at the opening ceremony for Shannon's
100-mile journey, Kim Ciampanelli, a Hudson's Bay Company
Billy's life is representative of all the First Nations and
Métis people, without whom our company could not have
functioned nor prospered. By honouring him, we honour them
Her comments are important as this was the first time the
Hudson's Bay Company had so clearly and publicly
acknowledged the key role that Aboriginal people played in
the success of that company.