On Wednesday during a Truth & Reconciliation Sharing Circle CEO of the McMurray Métis, Bill Loutitt called out Mayor Don Scott directly about the lack of action on Moccasin Flats.
The McMurray Métis had written a letter to council in August and have had no response prompting Loutitt to speak out.
In an interview with MyMcMurray Loutitt said that after the Sharing Circle the McMurray Métis did receive a reply from CAO Annette Antoniak.
“Her intention was to bring it to council at an administrative briefing but unfortunately it was cancelled due to lack of quorum and that’s the part that really gets me, the fact that these guys don’t want to address these issues, we’ve elected them to do the work and they are not doing it and they should be brought and made accountable on this.”
Even though he called out Mayor Scott Loutitt said he doesn’t believe he is the one at fault.
“Don has always been respectful to the whole community, he doesn’t look at one colour, race or anything. He goes out there and is very sensitive and tries to work for the people and you got councillors that are working against his back and that’s not right.”
He said the city councillors are making Mayor Scott look bad by not moving anything forward.
“There is something wrong with this whole thing here. I don’t know what it is, what transpired, but its obviously a lack of respect by someone we elected. Don Scott was elected by the people of Fort McMurray and he’s hampered to do his job because of these councillors that have nothing more than their self interest at heart.”
In October 2018 Council accepted a report by the McMurray Métis that outlined the truth behind the history of the Moccasin Flats evictions where many Métis, Cree and Dene peoples were forced out of their homes so the land could be developed to house oilsands workers.
Loutitt said that the Municipality was colluding with Industry and government to put Indigenous people in the situation where they lost their homes.
He recalled that one of the victims, Pat Shot stood up against the evictors and watched his house get bulldozed.
“They actually got a house moved…even brought in a crane…he lived there for 16 years and had squatters rights but once that thing was moved then they could evict him and bulldoze it.”
For Loutitt the story was unsettling saying Shott’s children had to watch while their dad got handcuffed and charged for resisting arrest while their house was bulldozed leaving the family to have to sleep in the bush that night.
“That is something that is going to have to be addressed and its going to have to be more than an apology and as long as I’m here, I’m going to ensure there is something done in that area.”
Loutitt said to move forward the McMurray Métis had to have the truth about Moccasin Flats revealed.
After presenting their report to council they asked for any other facts that would dispute from what was found in the study which cost the McMurray Métis $66-thousand to conduct none were given.
He does give the administration some kudos for bringing forward the facts they didn’t have as well as John Malcom who Loutitt said is another guy who has stood up alone and has been continually knocked down.
“We’re going to have to hold their feet to the fire on this, because there is no excuse for them to be doing this in this day and age when they know for a fact that this was the truth and they don’t want to reconcile because they probably feel they shouldn’t have to pay for the sins of their fathers.”
Since October, Council has written a letter to the federal government for an inquiry into the matter and have yet to address the ideas outlined to reach reconciliation.
“We do know that its going to go to council and we’re going to come out in numbers to support this and we’ll find out which councillors are voting against it…I could almost figure out which ones they are, and I would like to see this in an open forum because that shouldn’t be happening in this day and age.”
The families who were evicted have suggested that the first thing that could be done is for Council to issue a formal apology followed by a transfer of 4.3 acres of land.
The same amount that was bulldozed.
The land would be used to house a cultural centre and allow the McMurray Métis to work with the Municipality on the riverfront development and improve tourism.
“We feel there is a good opportunity to educate non-native people, allow our youth to be proud of where they come from and that is through a cultural centre, and it will also provide non-native people an opportunity to see the rich history that has been going on here since the 1700s”
Loutitt also said that there are many things that the McMurray Métis have on their agenda that must be addressed including hiring, housing as well as mental health and addiction issues that he said the government has been able to keep the Métis from having access to for generations.
He said it’s very unfortunate since Council knows that the McMurray Métis is one of the largest Métis nations with 907 card holders in Fort McMurray and they promised to do good by them.
“There is actually, I think 2500 that self identify, and we got 907 that actually have their Métis Nation cards, so we do know there is a good portion of Métis here in Fort McMurray and all we ever wanted, and this is going back 30 years, is a cultural centre.”