Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
Little Buffalo Lake, AB
3536 - 106 Street
Edmonton, AB T6J 1A4
December 7, 1989
Negotiations between the Government of Canada and the Lubicon Lake people collapsed on January 24, 1989, after representatives of the Canadian Government tabled a surprise "take-it-or-leave-it" settlement offer which they knew in advance wasn't acceptable, since it made no provision for the Lubicon people to replace the shattered traditional Lubicon economy and way of life with a hopefully viable new economy and way of life. Representatives of the Canadian Government then immediately made clear by their actions that they'd never been serious about negotiations in the first place, but had only used the pretense of serious negotiations to set the stage for an all-out Canadian Government effort designed to undermine duly elected Lubicon leadership and discredit the Lubicon cause.
One particularly nasty element of the current Canadian Government campaign to deny the Lubicon people their legitimate aboriginal land rights involved actually sending agents into northern Alberta to try and organize the political overthrow of duly elected Lubicon leadership. The effort to politically overthrow the duly elected Lubicon leadership failed on May 31st when current Lubicon leadership was unanimously re-elected, but on-the-ground efforts by the Canadian Government to subvert Lubicon land rights have continued and soon reappeared in the form of the so-called new Woodland Cree Band.
Lubicon Chief Ominayak and Alberta Premier Getty met on July 23rd to discuss the problem created by Federal Government unwillingness to engage in good faith negotiation of Lubicon land rights. The Chief and the Premier of course both represent interests in northern Alberta which ultimately can only be protected through successful negotiation of Lubicon land rights; however, under the Canadian Constitution, only the Federal Government is legally empowered to negotiate a settlement of aboriginal land rights.
On July 24th the Chief and the Premier decided to continue the negotiations which Federal negotiators had prematurely terminated the previous January with their surprise "take-it-or-leave-it" offer, inviting the Federal Government to join the negotiations between the Lubicons and the Provincial Government, but also agreeing to proceed with or without Federal Government involvement. While such negotiations of course couldn't bind the Federal Government, agreement between the Provincial Government and the Lubicon people on all outstanding issues, including issues for which the Federal Government carries primary if not exclusive responsibility, would clearly place the onus for lack of settlement on the Federal Government.
In a very real sense the Chief and the Premier were proposing to proceed with a more comprehensive version of their Grimshaw negotiations, during which they developed a framework for settlement of the key reserve land issue by agreeing basically that the Provincial Government would transfer 95 square miles of reserve land from Provincial to Federal jurisdiction for purposes of a Lubicon reserve, that the Lubicon people would accept a reserve of 95 square miles, and that the Federal Government would buy out third party interests in the 95 square miles -- primarily oil companies. The Chief and the Premier were now in effect proposing to approach all remaining settlement issues in the same way.
Grimshaw infuriated representatives of the Federal Government, not only because the Premier and the Chief had taken the initiative away from the Federal Government in an area of supposedly exclusive Federal Government responsibility under the Canadian Constitution, but also because the Chief and the Premier had taken away from Federal officials the ability to blame others for lack of a settlement. Grimshaw particularly incensed Federal Lubicon negotiator Brian Malone, who'd earlier been arguing that the Federal Government had no choice but to go to court since supposedly neither the Province nor the Lubicons were willing to negotiate, and who's been whining and complaining ever since that the Province and the Lubicons solved the key reserve land issue by sending the Federal Government the bill.
The day after the Chief and the Premier announced agreement to proceed with what amounted to a more comprehensive version of the Grimshaw negotiations, representatives of the Federal Government announced creation of a so-called new Band with a competing claim to traditional Lubicon lands. The so-called new Band was called the Woodland Cree Band. The leaders of this so-called new Woodland Cree Band are the same individuals whom agents of the Canadian Government had earlier organized in their unsuccessful efforts to politically overthrow duly elected Lubicon leaders.
While creation of the so-called new Woodland Cree Band had undoubtedly been in the works for some time, announcement of its creation the day after the Chief and the Premier agreed to proceed with negotiations was clearly an effort on the part of the Canadian Government to counter proposed negotiations between the Province and the Lubicons. Unable to overthrow Lubicon leadership in a duly called free election, Federal officials were in effect challenging the basis of the Grimshaw Agreement, which is of course the basis for the proposed new round of negotiations between the Province and the Lubicons, with a newly created Band also claiming rights to the traditional Lubicon area.
Asked by both the Province and the Lubicons to provide a list of the members of the so-called new Woodland Cree Band so that this latest Federal Government manoeuvre could be properly assessed, representatives of the Federal Government refused, taking the position that the Woodland Cree membership list was confidential. Unwilling to be deflected by the Federal Government's nameless, faceless challenge to the Grimshaw Agreement, Lubicon and Provincial negotiators proceeded to organize negotiations as agreed by the Chief and the Premier on July 24th.
On July 27th Provincial Lubicon negotiator John McCarthy wrote Federal Lubicon negotiator Brian Malone inviting Federal Government participation in negotiations. Mr. McCarthy proposed to commence negotiations "sometime after the middle of August", and asked Mr. Malone for "a schedule of convenient dates...after the 15th of August".
Mr. Malone responded to the July 27th McCarthy letter on August 11th, inaccurately characterizing the invitation to join pre-agreed negotiations between the Province and the Lubicons as "relaying the Lubicon Lake Band's request for the resumption of tripartite talks", inaccurately "recalling" that the Lubicon negotiators "unilaterally broke off settlement talks" by rejecting the Federal Government's final "take-it-or-leave-it" settlement offer of January 24th, inaccurately describing the Federal Government's final "take-it-or-leave-it" settlement offer as "open", and inaccurately "assuming therefore that the Band now wishes to present a meaningful counter-proposal within the bounds of Canadian law".
"As for suitable dates", Mr. Malone wrote that he could "alter other obligations so as to be available on any of the following: September 7-8, September 11-15, September 18-20, September 25-28".
Regarding the purpose of the talks which he'd earlier inaccurately "assumed" were being convened so that the Lubicon people could "present a meaningful counter-proposal within the bounds of Canadian law", and making clear that the Federal Government was not agreeing to resume negotiations but only to listen to a supposed Lubicon counter-proposal, Mr. Malone wrote "Two consecutive days of discussions should indicate whether the Band's counter-proposals form the basis for meaningful discussions".
Mr. McCarthy received Mr. Malone's August 11th letter on August 14th and immediately faxed a copy to Lubicon negotiator Fred Lennarson for reaction. Mr. Lennarson replied the following day, pointing out factual misrepresentations contained in the Malone letter, suggesting that Mr. Malone's earliest "suitable" starting date was intended to give Federal officials time necessary to formally constitute the recently announced Woodland Cree Band which Federal officials clearly hoped would enable them to effectively torpedo the Grimshaw Agreement, and rejecting the proposition that the Lubicons and the Province should simply wait and react to Federal Government actions. Rather Mr. Lennarson said that the Lubicons proposed to commence negotiations in mid-August with or without Federal Government involvement -- as earlier agreed by the Chief and the Premier.
Regarding Mr. Malone's self-serving attempt to characterize proposed negotiations between the Lubicons and the Province as a Lubicon "request for the resumption of tripartite talks", and the purpose of the proposed negotiations as an opportunity for the Lubicons to "present a meaningful counter-proposal within the bounds of Canadian law", Mr. Lennarson instead proposed, consistent with the agreement between the Chief and the Premier, to use the time between August 15th and September 7th to negotiate a joint Lubicon/ Provincial counter-proposal to the Federal Government's final "take-it-or-leave-it" settlement offer.
Regarding the agenda for proposed negotiations, Mr. Lennarson suggested that the agenda be categorized into items pertaining directly to settlement, and items possibly impacting upon negotiation of a settlement. Items possibly impacting upon negotiation of a settlement package, Mr. Lennarson said, would include recent Federal Government creation of the so-called new Woodland Cree Band, recent signing of the Daishowa Forest Management Agreement by the Alberta Government, and involvement of Ken Colby in negotiations. If the Federal Government included Mr. Colby on their negotiating team, Mr. Lennarson said, the Lubicon people intended to open-up negotiations to members of the legitimate media.
Mr. McCarthy indicated that Federal officials anticipated Lubicon opposition to Mr. Colby and had therefore now made Mr. Colby an "assistant negotiator', instead of simply a "media spokesman". Mr. McCarthy said that Federal officials had also asked him to take a position on selection of negotiators, and that he'd taken the position that each party should pick its own negotiating team. He cautioned against giving Federal officials an excuse to walk out.
Mr. Lennarson told Mr. McCarthy that the Lubicon people agreed with the principle that each party should select its own negotiating team. However, he said, the Lubicon people didn't intend to again agree to barring the legitimate media while the Federal Government involved their own private, bought-and-paid-for media man specifically to work on a self-serving media campaign. If the Federal Government included Mr. Colby on its negotiating team, Mr. Lennarson repeated, the Lubicon people intended to open-up negotiations to members of the legitimate media. As for Federal officials walking out, Mr. Lennarson pointed out that the Chief and the Premier had agreed to proceed with negotiations whether Federal officials participated or not.
Mr. McCarthy responded to Mr. Lennarson's August 15th letter on August 17th, proposing August 23th as the starting date for proposed negotiations between the Lubicons and the Province. Mr. Lennarson confirmed the August 23rd starting date by phone later that same day.
On August 18th Mr. Malone wrote Mr. McCarthy a letter regarding Mr. Lennarson's August 15th letter, which Mr. McCarthy had by pre-agreement with Mr. Lennarson provided to Mr. Malone. Mr. Malone was clearly distressed at the prospect of "a joint counter-proposal supported by both the Band and Alberta ready for discussion with the Federal Government at the tripartite meetings". Mr. Malone wrote "Our review of the press clippings after the meeting (between the Premier and the Chief) suggests that the Premier only agreed to invite Federal participation at such meetings with no intention of a joint proposal". Mr. Malone wrote "The joint proposal concept is a new feature and I will require your immediate advice as to the Province's position".
Regarding the decision to proceed with negotiations on August 23rd with or without Federal Government involvement, Mr. Malone wrote "I propose to send (Federal Government bureaucrat) Bob Coulter as an observer if you agree".
Mr. McCarthy received Mr Malone's August 18th letter on August 21st and phoned Mr. Lennarson. He said that he considered Mr. Lennarson's use of "the phrase joint counter proposal to be a matter of nuance rather than substance and therefore wouldn't be responding". However, Mr. McCarthy said, he would need a reaction from the Lubicon people regarding Mr. Malone's proposal to involve Mr. Coulter "as an observer".
Mr. Lennarson checked with Chief Ominayak later that same day and advised Mr. McCarthy that the Federal Government was of course welcome to send whomever they pleased to the negotiations, but that anyone attending the negotiations on behalf of the Federal Government would also be expected to respond on behalf of the Federal Government. Mr. McCarthy indicated that he'd advise Mr. Malone of the Lubicon position on involvement of Mr. Coulter.
Early in the meeting on August 23rd Mr. McCarthy described Mr. Coulter as an "observer". Mr. Lennarson told Mr. McCarthy that the Lubicon people hadn't and didn't agree to observer status for Mr. Coulter. After some discussion it was agreed that Mr. Coulter represented the Federal Government and would be expected to "provide available information and seek instruction regarding Canadian Government positions on the issues".
After resolving the question of Mr. Coulter's status in the meeting, Mr. McCarthy said "It appears a new Band has been created". He said that he'd received a phone call from Calgary lawyer Bob Young the week before "requesting a meeting with the (Provincial Attorney General) to inform the AG about creation of the new Band". He said that Mr. Young had provided him with "no details" regarding the so-called new Band, and that he'd not yet received instructions from the AG on how to respond to Young's request.
Mr. Lennarson asked Mr. Coulter for a list of supposed members of the new Band.
Mr. McCarthy indicated that the Province would like a copy as well.
Mr. Coulter pointedly ignored Mr. Lennarson and addressed his remarks to Mr. McCarthy. He told Mr. McCarthy that he couldn't provide a list but could say that "everybody on the initial (Woodland Cree membership) list will be a registered Indian under the Indian Act as of the creation of the new Band (underlining added)". He said that creation of the new Band was "targeted for August 28th". If Mr. McCarthy wanted a copy of the Woodland Cree membership list, he said, "write Malone".
Mr. McCarthy said that he'd write Mr. Malone requesting a copy of the Woodland Cree membership list.
Lubicon lawyer Jim O'Reilly asked Mr. Coulter under what authority the so-called new Woodland Cree Band was being created.
Mr. Coulter said "the new Band is being created by Ministerial Order under Section 17 of the Indian Act". He said that "Section 17 gives the Minister authority to create a new Band from an existing Band, or from the Indian Register, if requested to do so by persons proposing to form the new Band".
Mr. Lennarson asked Mr. Coulter if Section 17 gave the Minister authority to organize and solicit such a request from dissident members of an organized aboriginal society, or from people added to the membership list of an organized aboriginal society by the Federal Government, for the specific purpose of subverting duly elected aboriginal leadership.
Mr. Coulter denied that Federal officials had anything to do with organizing or soliciting the request to form the so-called new Band.
Mr. Lennarson reminded Mr. Coulter that the original petition requesting formation of the so-called new Band followed rather than preceded meetings with Federal officials, and that the petition was an obvious sham, with 87 out of 152 supposed signatures signed by one person.
Mr. Coulter said "Federal officials never took that petition seriously".
Mr. Lennarson reminded Mr. Coulter of numerous public statements to the contrary by official Federal Government spokesman Ken Colby. He asked Mr. Coulter if Mr. Coulter was now admitting that Mr. Colby is a liar.
Mr. Coulter said "I repeat, Federal officials never took that petition seriously".
Mr. O'Reilly asked Mr. Coulter if a new Band created under Section 17 of the Indian Act was entitled to reserve lands.
Mr. Coulter said "the new Band hasn't requested reserve lands but has been told that recognition as a Band doesn't necessarily involve reserve lands".
Mr. Lennarson commented on how unusual it was for the Federal Government to respond to a request not even made, noting the usual Federal Government pattern was not responding to requests which had been made.
Mr. McCarthy told Mr. Coulter that Woodland lawyer Young had advised the Province that "the new Band wants about 100 square miles of reserve land in the area of Cadotte Lake".
Mr. Coulter repeated that the new Woodland Cree Band had not asked the Federal Government for reserve lands.
Mr. Lennarson asked if Mr. Coulter could at least indicate the number of supposed Lubicons on the new Band list.
Mr. Coulter said that "the Federal Government has 339 individual declarations from people asking to be transferred to the new Band". He said "100 of the 339 are registered Indians". He said "This 100 will form the initial membership list of the new Band". He said "More than half of the registered Indians -- between 50 and 70 -- are registered Lubicons". He said "More than that are on the Lubicon membership list".
Mr. Lennarson asked if the 339 so-called "declarations" were actually sworn and signed by individuals.
Mr. Coulter said that all of the 339 declarations were signed by individuals but not sworn.
Mr. Lennarson asked Mr. Coulter for a list of registered Lubicons supposedly on the initial membership list of the so-called new Band.
Mr. Coulter said that he would "try to get a copy of the Ministerial Order listing members of registered Bands asking to join the new Band". He repeated that "There are 100 registered Indians on this list". He said "The other 239 have applied to be added to the new Band but may or may not be Indians (underlining added)".
Mr. McCarthy asked Mr. Coulter about the effect of creating the Band on proposed Lubicon reserve lands.
Mr. Coulter said "It's the position of Canada that creation of the new Band has no effect on Lubicon reserve lands".
Mr. O'Reilly asked Mr. Coulter about the effect of creating the new Band on the Grimshaw Agreement, which is of course the basis of the agreement on Lubicon reserve lands.
Mr. Coulter said "Any effect the new Band has on the Grimshaw Agreement is between the Lubicons and Alberta".
Mr. Lennarson asked Mr. Coulter about the effect of creating the new Band on the Federal Government's final "take-it-or-leave-it" settlement offer.
Mr. Coulter denied that the Federal Government had ever described the January offer as a final "take-it-or-leave-it" offer.
Mr. Lennarson told Mr. Coulter that the Federal Government's so-called "offer" had been repeatedly described as "take-it-or-leave-it" when it was tabled last January 24th. Since January 24th, he said, Federal officials had repeatedly taken the public position that the so-called offer wouldn't be changed. He asked again about the effect of creating the new Band on the Federal Government's so-called final "take-it-or-leave-it" settlement offer.
Mr. Coulter said "Any effect on the offer made in January will have to be discussed in September".
Mr. Lennarson asked Mr. Coulter when Mr. Coulter would be able to provide the membership list of the so-called new Woodland Cree Band, the list of Lubicon people supposedly on the Woodland Cree membership list, and the list of Lubicon people who've supposedly applied for membership in the so-called new Woodland Cree Band.
Mr. Coulter said that he'd ask for a copy of the list that night "and get instructions".
Mr. McCarthy said that Lubicon representatives had indicated that they would insist the September 7th and 8th sessions be open to the media if Mr. Colby attended on behalf of the Federal Government. He asked Lubicon representatives to speak to the point and for Federal Government reaction from Mr. Coulter.
Mr. Lennarson said that the Lubicon position was simple -- either no media or all media. He said that the Lubicon people didn't intend to again find themselves in the position of agreeing to bar the legitimate media, while the Federal Government's own private, bought-and-paid-for media man sat in negotiations preparing a propaganda campaign on behalf of the Federal Government.
Mr. Coulter said that he would need to seek instruction regarding Federal Government reaction to the Lubicon position on involvement of the media in scheduled September 7th and 8th negotiating sessions.
During the meeting on August 24th Mr. McCarthy asked Mr. Coulter if Mr. Coulter had received any instructions on provision of the Woodland Cree Band lists.
Mr. Coulter said "I think that our initial, ordinary position is that this request should be made to the new Band".
Mr. Lennarson said "We're making this request to the Federal Government as the conceiver, contriver, conniver, organizer, agent and spokesman for the so-called new Woodland Cree Band".
Mr. Coulter said "We'll provide a list of registered Lubicons on the initial Woodland Cree Band list". He said "We'll also provide a list of people registered to other Bands but on the Lubicon membership list".
Mr. Lennarson asked when the promised lists would be made available.
Mr. Coulter said that the promised lists would be made available "after creation of the Woodland Cree Band next week".
Mr. Lennarson asked about the names of people on the Lubicon membership list who aren't registered but have supposedly applied for membership in the so-called new Woodland Cree Band.
Mr. Coulter said "You'll have to get the other names from (Woodland Cree lawyer) Young". He said "If Young has clients with a claim he should be prepared to give you a list of their names".
Mr. Coulter then asked Mr. McCarthy "What is the Province's position on opening the September 7th session to the media"?
Mr. McCarthy said that he thought negotiating sessions would be more productive without the media, but that the Province was "prepared to proceed either way".
Mr. Coulter said "The media blackout won't be observed (by the Lubicons) in any case, but the Federal Government is hesitant to proceed with the media present". He said "If the Province wants the media present, Mr. McCarthy should write Mr. Malone".
Mr. McCarthy asked again about the Lubicon position on involvement of the media.
Mr. Lennarson repeated that the Lubicon people were prepared to proceed with or without the media present, but not with the Lubicons agreeing to bar the legitimate media while Federal officials involved their own private, bought-and-paid-for media man.
Mr. Coulter said "We don't try to tell the Lubicons who to involve and reserve the right to involve who we please".
Mr. Lennarson said "If Federal officials choose to involve their own private, bought-and-paid for representative of media, the Lubicon people will choose to involve the rest of the media".
Mr. McCarthy asked Mr. Coulter to again communicate the Lubicon position to Mr. Malone.
The discussion then proceeded to other items, including on-reserve capital infrastructure. Clearly a matter of Federal Government responsibility, proposed capital projects had been discussed at length and in detail with Federal representatives the previous December. However, in the context of the current talks, a list of on-reserve capital projects was now also provided to representatives of the Provincial Government for discussion.
Mr. Coulter asked for a copy of the list of proposed on-reserve capital projects. He was told by Lubicon representatives that the Federal Government already had capital project and cost information -- that the information hadn't changed from last December.
Mr. Coulter repeated his request for a copy of proposed capital projects, saying that he didn't bring his copy of the projects discussed last December.
Mr. Lennarson told Mr. Coulter to have Mr. Malone write requesting a copy.
Having largely achieved agreement between Provincial and Lubicon representatives on how to proceed with the remaining issues, Mr. McCarthy opened the August 25th session by proposing to "build an agenda" for discussion with Federal officials on September 7th. He was interrupted by an obviously agitated and atypically aggressive Mr. Coulter.
Mr. Coulter said "Regarding letters requesting information, if the Band wants a copy of the Woodland Cree Band list, they should write Malone".
Mr. Lennarson asked Mr. McCarthy if Lubicon representatives could have a copy of the list which the Federal Government had promised to provide the Provincial Government. Mr. McCarthy agreed to share any list received from the Federal Government. (The list was later provided to the Provincial Government on the condition that it would not be shared with the Lubicon people.)
Mr. Coulter asked for "a counter-proposal from the Band to the Federal Government's January 24th settlement offer". He also asked for "a list of people represented by the Band".
Mr. Lennarson told Mr. Coulter that the Lubicon people considered the Federal Government's so-called final "take-it-or-leave-it" offer a political manoeuvre, not a serious offer. He said that the Lubicon people weren't prepared to dignify such a transparent political manoeuvre with a counter-proposal. If the Federal Government was really serious about negotiating a settlement of Lubicon land rights, he said, Federal officials should return to the negotiating table and complete negotiation of outstanding issues, rather than continuing to jockey for political position.
As for the requested list of people represented by duly elected Lubicon leadership, Mr. Lennarson said, the Federal Government already had such a list. If the Federal Government had reason to believe that anyone on the Lubicon list wasn't represented by duly elected Lubicon leadership, he said, Federal officials should provide information to that effect -- presumably the names of Lubicon people who'd indicated that they wanted to transfer to the membership list of the so-called new Woodland Cree Band.
Mr. Coulter then asked for Lubicon representatives "to at least spell out what it will take to settle".
Mr. Lennarson repeated that the Lubicon people had spelled out many times what it would take to settle.
Mr. Coulter asked that the Lubicon people "spell out for the September 7th meeting what it will take to settle."
Mr. Lennarson said that the Lubicon people would be prepared to once again spell out what it will take to settle for the September 7th meeting.
Mr. McCarthy concluded the meeting by asking Mr. Coulter and Mr. Lennarson for letters spelling out in writing their respective positions on involvement of the media. Mr. Lennarson did so that same day. Mr. Malone waited until after he'd received a copy of Mr. Lennarson's letter, and then in effect responded to Mr. Lennarson's letter.
Mr. Malone said "Our response (to the Lubicon position on involvement of the media) is that all parties must be free to choose their own representatives". He said "Canada will not participate in negotiations at which the media is present". "As an alternative" he proposed that Mr. McCarthy "engage a court reporter to record proceedings...should the accuracy of subsequent comments to the media become a matter of later controversy". "As an aside", Mr. Malone said,...given past experience there is no useful purpose to be served by a media blackout during any negotiations involving the Lubicon Lake Band".
Mr. McCarthy was out of the office on September 1st but arranged to have his secretary send Mr. Lennarson a copy of Mr. Malone's September 1st letter. Mr. Lennarson received the copy of Mr. Malone's September 1st letter a couple of days later and responded immediately.
Mr. Lennarson said the Lubicon people agreed with Mr. Malone that "no useful purpose (is) to be served by a media blackout" during negotiations between the Lubicon people and the Canadian Government. Mr. Lennarson said "No useful purpose (is) to be served, because, as Lubicon representatives made clear to Coulter at the meeting on August 23rd, the Lubicon people won't ever again allow a demonstrably duplicitous Canadian Government to hide its Machiavellian machinations behind a media blackout".
Mr. Lennarson said the Lubicon people also agreed with Mr. Malone that "all parties must be free to choose their own representatives". However, Mr. Lennarson said, "the Lubicon people intend to appropriately balance the 'representatives' selected by the Canadian Government". "If the Canadian Government again chooses to include a man on its negotiating team whose only purpose is to conduct a highly misleading and self-serving media campaign, the Lubicon people will respond by inviting representatives of the legitimate media to attend the negotiations and report what really transpires".
As for Mr. Malone's proposal "that the hiring of a court reporter to transcribe the proceedings would be a more appropriate response to the Canadian Government involving a professional propagandist on its negotiating team", Mr. Lennarson said, "Surely he's not serious". "While the Lubicon people would welcome the involvement of a court reporter to transcribe the proceedings", Mr. Lennarson said, "any dope knows that such a transcript is hardly an effective response to the kind of on-going propaganda campaign being conducted by the Canadian Government's bought-and-paid-for media man".
In conclusion Mr. Lennarson said:
"If representatives of the Canadian Government really don't want the media involved in negotiations, instead of only seeking political advantage by having their own bought-and-paid-for media man in negotiations while representatives of the legitimate media are kept outside, they can leave Mr. Colby outside. Alternatively, if representatives of the Canadian Government refuse to meet unless Mr. Colby is present and members or the legitimate media are barred, the Lubicon people will simply conclude that the Canadian Government still isn't serious about achieving a negotiated settlement and will proceed accordingly."
On September 6th Mr. McCarthy phoned Mr. Lennarson to discuss a phone conversation he had with Mr. Malone. He said Mr. Malone told him that "the Feds will not participate if the media is there". He asked Mr. Lennarson if Mr. Lennarson thought the Feds would stick to their stated position on involvement of the media, and also if the Lubicon position on involvement of the media was firm.
Mr. Lennarson told Mr. McCarthy that the Feds had involved Mr. Colby in negotiations over Lubicon objections twice before and undoubtedly thought that they could get away with it again. However, he said, he doubted that the Lubicon people would be prepared to cede the Colby issue again, especially since Mr. Colby had preformed exactly as predicted when allowed to sit in on negotiations.
Mr. McCarthy asked if the Lubicon people would object to the Province meeting privately with the Feds. He said that he "sensed some movement" and wanted to see if he was right.
After checking with Chief Ominayak, Mr. Lennarson advised Mr. McCarthy that the Lubicon people had no objection to the Province meeting privately with the Feds.
Representatives of the Federal and Provincial Governments met in Edmonton at an undisclosed site the morning of September 7th, after Federal Government spokesmen falsely told reporters that the Federal negotiating team's plane had been delayed and that Federal negotiators therefore wouldn't be arriving in Edmonton until later that afternoon. Following the meeting between the Federal and Provincial negotiating teams, Mr. McCarthy told the Lubicon negotiating team that Mr. Malone wanted a written statement from the Lubicon people on "what it will take to settle".
A statement reiterating the Lubicon position on outstanding settlement issues, and predicting that Federal officials only wanted the Lubicon statement in order to release an already prepared response, was delivered to Mr. McCarthy the next morning. Mr. McCarthy delivered the Lubicon statement to Mr. Malone. Within a couple of hours of receiving the Lubicon position paper Mr. Malone responded as predicted, with a revised Federal offer which had obviously been drafted prior to receipt of the Lubicon statement. Release of the revised Federal Government offer was then followed immediately by a press conference called by Ken Colby.
As expected the Federal Government's revised "offer" provided nothing new. It dismissed the statement reiterating the Lubicon position on outstanding settlement issues as "merely" a reiteration of the Lubicon position "containing no specifics which would advance negotiations". It put forth the newly created Woodland Cree Band as having equally valid rights to the traditional Lubicon area. It indicated that the membership of the Woodland and Lubicon Lake Bands will have to be "validated" by both levels of Canadian Government before any "meaningful future discussions" can take place. It asked whether the Provincial Government was prepared to transfer more land to provide a reserve for the newly created Woodland Cree Band or was going reduce the amount of reserve land committed to the Lubicon people at Grimshaw. It made clear that the Federal Government's January offer would be adjusted downward to take into account a supposedly reduced number of Lubicons resulting from transfers into the newly created Woodland Cree Band. It proposed to amend that section of the January offer requiring a full and final release of all legal rights, which was so obviously in conflict with Federal Government descriptions of that offer. And it proposed to replace the easily criticized "Socio-Economic Program" included in the earlier offer, which contained a number of obviously inadequate items totalling over ten million dollars, with an equally inadequate -- but not so stupidly worded --blanket offer of the interest on a ten million dollar fund. (See the January 28, 1989, analysis of the January 24th offer for details on the so-called "Socio-Economic Program" contained in the earlier offer.)
Having thus responded to the temporarily worrisome challenge posed by Lubicon/Provincial efforts to re-start negotiations, Federal negotiators headed for home.
With no hope of a negotiated settlement in sight, the Lubicon people once again started gearing-up to protect their vital interests on the ground.
Enclosed for your information are copies of related correspondence and media coverage.
(Retyped for your information is a resolution regarding creation of the so-called new Woodland Cree Band. This resolution was recently passed by the Assembly of First Nations, the representative body of Treaty Indians in Canada.)
National Indian Brotherhood
ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS
Head Office: Territory of Akwesasne
Tel: (613) 931-1012
Ottawa Office: 47 Clarence Street, Suite 300
Tel: (613) 236-0673
CONFEDERACY OF NATIONS RESOLUTION NO. 17/89
PROPOSED BY: Bill Erasmus, Northwest Territories
SECONDED BY: Steve Fobister, Ontario
Certified copy of a Resolution adopted on October 19, 1989 in
Subject: Lubicon Lake Nation
WHEREAS the Lubicon Lake Nation has the inherent right to determine its own membership; and
WHEREAS the assertion and recognition of aboriginal and treaty rights are integral to the First nations pursuit of self-determination, an objective supported by international law and covenants; and
WHEREAS the aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations are recognized and protected under Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, which is the supreme law for Canadians and their governments; and
WHEREAS the Government of Canada has a fiduciary, moral and legal obligation to protect the peoples of the First Nations; and
WHEREAS the Government of Canada through its Minister of Indian Affairs has sought to undermine the integrity of the Lubicon Lake Nation by unilaterally entering and removing the names of persons onto its Band list in violation of Lubicon membership laws; and
WHEREAS the Government of Canada, through its Minister of Indian Affairs, has sought to undermine the leadership of the Lubicon Lake Nation by falsely representing those artificial Band members as being dissident citizens of the Lubicon Lake Nation; and
WHEREAS these actions constitute a reprehensible and offensive intyerference into matters which are within the rightful jurisdiction of the Lubicon Lake Nation; and
WHEREAS by these actions the Government of Canada has, through its Minister of Indian Affairs, shown complete lack of regard for the pre-existing needs and concerns of other First Nations across Canada by ignoring their long-standing requests for Indian band status and instead promoting the creation of the Woodland Cree Band in furtherance of a strategy aimed at destroying the rights and existence of the Lubicon Lake Nation; and
WHEREAS the Government of Canada, through its Minister of Indian Affairs, has by these actions exhibited a blatant disregard for its fiduciary responsibilities, laws, stated policies and for the precepts of moral fairness in its dealings with the Lubicon Lake Nation,
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Confederacy of Nations issue as soon as possible a statement condemning the actions of the Government of Canada; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Confederacy of Nations direct the National Chief to bring pressure to bear upon the Prime Minister of Canada to review the actions of his Minister of Indian Affairs in light of his fiduciary duty, legal authority and federal policies in relations to Indian self-government and to make public a report on the findings of that review; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Confederacy of Nations hereby direct the AFN Secretariat to give a high priority to activities in support of the Lubicon Lake Nation and in furtherance of the intent and purpose of this resolution; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED THAT all First Nations and their regional associations are also requested to adopt measures in support of the Lubicon Lake Nation, and the inherent right of all First Nations to self-government and self-determination.
October 19, 1989
INDIAN PROBLEM BASED ON LAND
by Richard Wagamese, Columnist, CALGARY HERALD, Sun., Oct
There's good news and there's bad news.
The bad news is that the government to the east still believes in the merits of the divide and conquer methods in its dealings with the Indians. The good news is that its practically impossible in this modern age to sneak it by without attracting any publicity.
Back in the good old days the government could shuffle the Indians off to the reservations, claiming they were allowing them at least some of their land back. What they were really doing was isolating each group of Indians from the others. Without benefit of communication it was impossible for the Indians to unite and organize any kind of political front or to see that vast problems existed in the system.
Divide and conquer. In order to see the implications of this ploy it is first necessary to know that the so called "Indian Problem" in this country is based on the issue of land. The government would have us believe that the Indian problem is primarily a cultural one. Not so.
It's always been the land. Initially the Europeans wanted the land for settlement. As modern technology and modern society evolved the land became important for the resources it held. From furs to fission the land held the future. As long as the Indians held land there was an Indian problem.
There's an Indian problem right in our own backyard.
Just over a year ago Premier Don Getty and Lubicon Indian Chief Bernard Ominayak signed the Grimshaw Agreement. It was evidence that the province and the Lubicons wanted to settle the Lubicons' 50-year-old Land Claim. All that was needed was the cooperation of the federal government. It's been over a year and all signs indicate a long wait.
Rather than work with the province and the Indians the government has decided to haul out the old method of divide and conquer.
In August of this year they officially recognized the existence of a group of Indians now known as the Woodland Cree Band. Previous to August the Woodland Cree did not exist. The fact that they do exist these days is due to some frightening specifications contained in the Indian Act.
Section 17 of that legislation gives the minister responsible the absolute power to create new Indian bands whenever he so desires. All that is needed is the request of an unspecifiednumber of persons to form a new band. Theoretically, a dozen people could make such a request and become officiallyrecognized as an Indian band. They simply need to be members of an existing band or be listed with the Indian registrar.
Section 17.2 of the Indian Act allows the minister the absolute power to take money and land away from existing bands in order to accommodate the newly created one.
Enter the Woodland Cree.
This anonymous gathering of Indians number 100 registered Indians. The government would have us believe that they are all disgruntled members of Chief Ominayak's band. Not so. They belong on the band lists of six separate, northern Alberta bands. Only 37 are registered Lubicons.
Some time ago the government made a big show of its concern for the Indians by its support of Bill C-31. This bill made it possible for Indians who had either lost or never had status to regain it. Nowadays, and in light of the Lubicon situation, it's beginning to look as though the entire Bill C-31 move was a means to an end.
Some 250 C-31 Indians will become members of the Woodland Cree Band. The government is hurriedly processing their applications. Following the dictates of the Indian Act these C-31 returnees are being registered within existing bands to be later transferred to the Woodland Cree.
This is interesting because there are some 70 aboriginal groups in this country that have been waiting over 50 years for official recognition as a band. It is more than curious that the Woodland Cree should be officially recognized in less than two months.
With recognition comes negotiation. The Woodland Cree are claiming rights to the traditional Lubicon area. If the minister sees fit he could appropriate land from the Lubicon claim and hand it over to the Woodland Cree along with whatever amounts of money he deems fit as well.
The Lubicon could be left out in the cold.
The most frightening aspect of this whole fiasco is that section 17.3 of the Indian Act dictates that no protest may be made. Absolute power. The minister is free to create whatever bands he chooses, take whatever lands he chooses from established bands and communities and remove whatever amounts of funding from existing bands as well.
There's more to this story than this space will allow but rest assured that divide and conquer is alive and well.
EAGLE FEATHERS: To Bernard Ominayak, Fred Lennarson and all those at the front lines in the continuing battle for the land.
(Retyped for your information is a copy of a letter recently sent to Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney by the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Georges Erasmus regarding the Lubicon Lake situation.
The Assembly of First Nations is the representative of Treaty Indians in Canada. )
National Indian Brotherhood
ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS
Head Office: Territory of Akwesasne
Tel: (613) 931-1012
Ottawa Office: 47 Clarence Street, Suite 300
Tel: (613) 236-0673
November 7, 1989
Right Honourable Brian Mulroney
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Centyre Block, Room 309-S
Dear Mr. Prime Minister:
As you are aware, the people of the Lubicon Lake Nation have been waiting for over fifty years now for acknowledgement of their rights to their unceded, traditional lands. During this time, the Lubicon have been forced to stand by and watch as their traditional economy and way of life has been destroyed through the ongoing efforts of resource development companies. This destruction has been allowed to continue with the full knowledge of successive federal and provincial governments.
What you may not be aware of, however, is the fact that the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, the Honourable Pierre Cadieux, has recently established the Woodland Cree Indian Band and promised to designate an Indian reserve for this band within the traditional territory of the Lubicon Lake Nation. Furthermore, the Registrar of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) has added the names of at least twenty-six persons to the list of the registered Lubicons without the consent of the Lubicon Lake Nation. These names were subsequently left on the Lubicon list for several days and then removed and placed onto the Woodland Cree's band list, in violation of existing legislation and policy guidelines.
It is especially appalling to note that, as these actions were being carried out, the Minister and his representatives were attacking the leadership of the Lubicon Lake Nation by falsely representing those artificial band members as being Lubicon dissidents. This can only be seen as a blatant and malicious attempt to undermine the integrity of the Lubicon Lake Nation, and as a means of subverting their rights to their traditional homelands.
The above actions were taken despite the fact that the Lubicon Lake Nation has their own Membership Code, as is provided for under the INDIAN ACT. You can appreciate that the actions referred to above directly contradict your government's own stated policy in relation to Indian self-government as well as a number of INAC's written policies and guidelines. The Section 10 membership provision of the INDIAN ACT can only be an absurdity if the Minister, or his appointed officials, may over-ride the authority of an elected Chief and Council whenever they see fit to tamper with a band's membership list! This calls into question the whole notion of democracy which Canada supposedly upholds.
This type of approach towards the rights and needs of First Nations cannot be allowed to continue. As you well know, the government of Canada has a fiduciary, moral and legal obligation to preserve and safeguard the interests and rights of First Nations' citizens. This obligation is supported by international law, covenants, human rights principles, and it is also entrenched in the Constitution of Canada.
Mr. Prime Minister, this intolerable situation demands that immediate steps be taken to review the activities of your Minister of Indian Affairs in order to determine whether or not the fiduciary, moral and legal standards relevant to his position and responsibilities have been upheld. This review should take the form of a public inquiry so as to ensure that justice may not only be done, but also be seen to be done.
In your capacity as a responsible head of government it is, I believe, your duty to act upon these matters in a manner that is consistent with the public trust that is embodied in the Office which you now hold.
Cynicism, distrust and deception should have no place whatsoever in the foundations of relationships between nations, governments or peoples.
Neither should these decidedly unworthy attributes be allowed to cast shadows upon Canada's reputation as a fair and benevolent society.
However, this is exactly what will result if your government's present strategy towards First Nations rights is allowed to subsist.
I must point out that these are not idle words, nor should they in any way be considered as an exaggeration. This assertion is strongly supported by recent disclosures that your government has spent several million dollars during the past fiscal year on private legal services in an effort to avoid settling Native land claims. Surely this country's resources could be put to more constructive and honourable uses than this.
These circumstances are not merely local in nature, nor shall their effect be felt by only those First Nations which have been directly implicated by the actions of your Minister of Indian Affairs. The future interests of all First Nations in Canada stand to be prejudiced by this because it can only serve to seriously undermine your government's stated policy of advancing the cause of First Nations government. This is a national issue of far-reaching importance and to merely ignore it will only lead to a continuation of the injustices which have already been brought about.
Finally, the burden of responsibility in this regard is upon you, Mr. Prime Minister, and I demand that you take immediate steps to discharge your duty in a manner consistent with the significance that this matter holds for all First Nations and for Canada as a member of the world community.
THE ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS
cc:Lawrence Courtoreille, Indian Association of Alberta
Bernard Ominayak, Chief, Lubicon Lake Indian Band
The Honourable Pierre Cadieux, Minister, INAC
Ethel Blondin, MP, Liberal Critic, Native Affairs
Robert E. Skelly, MP, NDP Critic, Native Affairs