“Derek, thank you for the work that you do.”
That’s how Ernie Louttit signed my copy of his second book.
Ernie’s a former Saskatoon city cop with 26 years under his belt who retired in 2013 to begin the next chapter of his life as a writer. He wrote his first book that year, detailing his career as a police officer who ‘walked the beat’ in Saskatoon’s roughest neighborhoods.
The first book was so well received that he wrote a second one in 2015, and then he actually completed the trilogy with a third book that came out at the beginning of this year.
I was at a launch event for Ernie’s third book last Thursday at McNally-Robinson Booksellers in Saskatoon. He read from the book and told some stories from his time on the force, and also took questions from the audience. The man’s a great public speaker because he’s personable and approachable; the kind of guy you could have a deep conversation with, but also sit down and have a couple of beers. It goes without saying that his former career gave him a lifetime’s worth of memories and that many of them fall into the good, bad and ugly files.
If the name rings a bell, maybe you were in attendance at the banquet held in honor of Outlook’s fire department last June at the Civic Centre, of which Ernie was the special guest speaker.
Or perhaps you dealt with Louttit in another capacity, maybe while he was still wearing a badge. Hey, no judgment here! None of us are angels!
Ernie’s books are an insightful, eye-opening look at crime on the streets of Saskatoon, and while they can provide shimmers of hope, I appreciate how open and honest he is about being a police officer. The reality of it can be brutal and he pulls few punches, and that’s what I find most interesting about the books; most authors who tackle the topic of their careers would find ways to sugar-coat certain things in order to avoid angering certain people, but Louttit isn’t afraid to give his personal take in order to say, “Hey, this was MY experience, but I understand that not everyone will have the same opinion.”
Ernie signed books after his appearance in the bookstore and I found my way to the front of the line. As it turns out, he recognized my name because he’d read some articles that I’d written, especially when I referenced his appearance in Outlook last summer.
Louttit’s inscription in one of my copies of his book speaks to his belief that there are leaders in virtually every walk of life. They’re at home, they’re at work, they’re at school, they’re at public events, they’re everywhere; you just have to look.
Ernie’s “thanking” me, as he talked about during his book launch event, was his way of saying that the media are leaders in this day and age, particularly at a time when getting true, factual information is all the more critical in this “Fake News” era we live in.
I appreciated his kind words, and it made me realize that, hey, I guess we are leaders in a way. We have to lead by giving people the news that is factual and void of any errors or bias, and hopefully, we’re doing that every week both in print and online.
But there are other leaders out there, especially in this community.
The people working tirelessly to raise money for the new swimming pool come to mind. They’re working with the people and the resources that they have, which is probably far too few on both accounts, but they don’t complain, and they just keep pointing people toward a common goal.
The people who make up Outlook’s town council also come to mind. Sure, not every decision they make is going to be popular, but they took the job knowing that very fact. They lead by making such decisions, regardless of what people feel about them.
The Outlook & District Chamber of Commerce comes to mind, too. To think, just a couple of years ago, there was a very real chance that the Chamber was going to be dissolved due to members not stepping up and helping to take the organization into the future. In those couple of years since then, I think the Chamber has been one of the most community-oriented groups in a long time that has Outlook’s best interests at heart.
The people who volunteer their time in the community are big examples of everyday leaders. They’re the people who you see flipping pancakes or burgers at any of the 10,000 breakfasts and BBQ lunches that seem to go down every spring and summer. They’re the people taking admission and selling 50/50 tickets at hockey games and any other public events. They’re the familiar faces that you see here, there and everywhere around town and in other communities. Does there need to be more volunteers in general? Absolutely, but the ones still doing it today are helping to lead by example.
Ernie’s right, there are leaders everywhere when you really think about it.
You just need to stop and take a look.
For this week, that’s been the Ruttle Report.