More on the Creation of the Woodland Cree Band


Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
Little Buffalo Lake, AB
403-629-3945
FAX: 403-629-3939

Mailing address:
3536 - 106 Street
Edmonton, AB T6J 1A4
403-436-5652
FAX: 403-437-0719



December 23, 1990



On December 19, 1990, Canadian Federal Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon and Alberta Provincial Attorney General Ken Rostad announced that they'd reached an "agreement-in-principle" with the so-called "Woodland Cree Band". Minister Siddon and AG Rostad represented this "agreement-in-principle" as evidence of their good will and suggested that it's the Lubicon peoples' own fault that there's no Lubicon settlement. The Woodland Cree "agreement-in-principle" is in fact only further evidence of the boundless cynicism of Canadian Government, and further proof of the lengths to which both levels of Canadian Government are prepared to go in order to obliterate the Lubicon society.



At the time of the Lubicon Olympic Boycott three Alberta claims which had been outstanding for decades were rushed to settlement -- Fort Chip Cree, Whitefish Lake and Sturgeon Lake. People associated with the Fort Chip and Whitefish Lake negotiations were pretty amenable to whatever terms the Government was prepared to offer -- and the resulting settlements show it. The Sturgeon Lake people did appreciably better, recognizing accurately that for once Canadian Government really wanted a settlement -- if only in order to deflect growing public and international outrage over the increasingly well known plight of the Lubicon people.



In the case of the Woodland Cree the Government of Canada actually created a whole new aboriginal society with whom to settle, while at the same time continuing to ignore the rights of countless legitimate aboriginal societies across the land -- most of whom have been unsuccessfully pursuing recognition of their rights in a non-confrontational way practically since first contact with Canadian Government officials. So too would the Fort Chip Cree, Whitefish Lake, Sturgeon Lake and Woodland Cree people still be waiting, if it were not for the considerable public and international pressure created by the Lubicon struggle, and the Canadian Government's obvious decision to use rushed settlements with these three aboriginal groups to try and counter adverse publicity being generated by the Lubicon struggle.



In spite of all of the calculated hoopla, little is actually known about the substance of the Woodland Cree "agreement-in-principle". Moreover chances of more becoming known aren't very good if the Government has its way, and, in the case of the Woodland Cree, chances are pretty good that the Government will continue to have its way.



The official press release uses phrases like "up to $35.192 million for the construction of a new community". What "up to" $35.192 million means in actual dollars is anybody's guess, but, given the Lubicon experience with practised Government double-talk, it's not likely that it really means $35.192 million for the construction of a new community. Similarly suspicious is the $13 million for a socio-economic development "trust" fund and $512,000 "in lieu of land".



One thing does seem clear from media reports; namely, reserve land for the Woodland Cree is being calculated on only about half of the claimed Band list of 628 people. Fifty-five square miles of reserve land would provide for 275 people under the Treaty 8 formula of 128 acres per person; $512,000 "in lieu of land" is likely 2,560 acres for an additional 20 people under the Treaty 8 formula at the rate of $200 per acre. Two hundred dollars per acre for tax free, inalienable Indian land is literally a steal, and, generally speaking, accepting less than the greatest possible amount of reserve land has not served aboriginal people well.



Enclosed for your information is a copy of the Government's press release and related media reports.


Attachment #1:



AGREEMENT-IN-PRINCIPLE REACHED WITH WOODLAND CREE BAND



EDMONTON, December 19, 1990 -- The Honourable Tom Siddon, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, the Honourable Ken Rostad, Alberta Attorney General and Minister responsible for Native Affairs, and Chief John Cardinal of the Woodland Cree Band today announced that the negotiators for the three parties have reached agreement-in-principle on a settlement of the band's land entitlement under Treaty No. 8.



In making the announcement, Minister Siddon stated: "This agreement-in- principle is a clear indication of the federal government's commitment to honour its obligations to the Indian people of northern Alberta and to help them achieve their economic and social objectives." Mr. Siddon noted: "This important land claim settlement is a major example of the government's commitment to the native agenda announced by the Prime Minister on september 25, 1990."



Under the terms of the proposed settlement, the federal government will provide the Woodland Cree Band with up to $35.192 million for the construction of a new community, $13.0 million for a socio-economic development trust fund and $512,000 as cash in lieu of land.



The Alberta government has agreed to transfer to the federal government 55 square miles (14,245 hectares) of land, including mines and minerals, to be set aside as Indian Reserves for the Woodland Cree Band. Alberta will also provide a further $5 million and, separate from the land entitlement settlement, a special training and employment program at a cost of up to $3 million.



Mr. Rostad stated: "I am pleased that, because of the constructive approach taken by the Chief and Council, we have been able to reach agreement on the establishment of Reserves for the Band in the Cadotte Lake and Marten Lake areas. The training program will assist Band members in taking advantage of the employment opportunities provided by both Reserve construction and other developments in the region.



Commenting on the settlement proposal, Chief Cardinal said: "What is most important is that this settlement will allow us to build our communities and provide for the economic future of our band members."



The proposed settlement is subject to final ratification by both governments and the band membership.



For further information, contact:



Mark Hudson

Press Attache

Minister's Office



Lesley Gronow

Director of Communications

Alberta Attorney General

403-427-8530



Chief John Cardinal

Woodland Cree Band

629-3804


Attachment #2



Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (5:30 P.M.) Wednesday, December 19, 1990

Krysia Jarmicka, CBC News



Alberta's newest Indian Band has a tentative land claim agreement with the Federal and Alberta Governments. The Woodland Cree was only recognized by Ottawa a little over a year ago. Now it has a promise of 55 square miles of land for reserves in northern Alberta and $57 million in settlement money. The Chief of the Band says he's pleased with the agreement. John Cardinal says many members of his Band live in homes that don't have running water or heating systems. He says he's hoping some of the money from the settlement will go towards providing these services to his people. The deal, announced today, gives the Woodland Cree land for reserves in the Cadotte and Marten Lake areas. The Band will also get $57 million to build a new community and for a variety of social programs. The Woodland Band is an off-shoot of the Lubicon Lake Indians in northern Alberta. The Lubicons were offered almost twice as much land and $45 million, but they rejected the deal when Ottawa refused to pay a hundred million dollars in compensation. The settlement has to be ratified by both Governments and members of the Woodland Cree. Cardinal says it will take some time to contact each of the 628 members of the Band to sign the deal.


Attachment #3:



PRESS STATEMENT OF CHIEF BERNARD OMINAYAK, LUBICON LAKE INDIAN NATION,

Regarding the recently announced Woodland Cree Agreement-In-Principle

December 19, 1990



Without knowing details of the recently announced Woodland Cree Agreement-in- Principle, the Lubicon people wish to congratulate the Woodland Cree people for achieving what they apparently consider an acceptable settlement of their aboriginal land rights. Hopefully this Agreement-in-Principle means that the Federal and Provincial Governments are now prepared to negotiate the aboriginal land rights of Metis people and people returned to Indian status under the 1985 (C-31) amendments to the Indian Act.



At the same time the Lubicon people wish to point out that the Woodland Cree Agreement-in-Principle is not a settlement of Lubicon land rights, and that the struggle for recognition of Lubicon land rights continues. As Premier Getty pointed out when the Federal Government created the Woodland Cree Band in 1989, Lubicon land rights and the land rights of the Woodland Cree are separate matters requiring separate treatment.

For more information phone 403-436-5652 or 403-629-3945


Attachment #4:



Re-printed without permission from The Globe and Mail, Thursday, December 20, 1990



ALBERTA CREE BAND REACHES SETTLEMENT



Canadian Press

Edmonton



The federal and Alberta governments have reached a land-claim settlement worth up to $56-million with the recently recognized Woodland Cree band in Northern Alberta.



Federal Indian Affairs Minister Thomas Siddon, Alberta Attorney-General Kenneth Rostad and Woodland Cree Chief John Cardinal announced the deal yesterday.



The settlement comes in the midst of stalled talks between the federal government and the Lubicon Lake Indian band, which is also in the area about 400 kilometres north of Edmonton.



The 340-member Woodland Cree band was formed 18 months ago when a small native group sent a petition to Ottawa after the Lubicon talks broke off.

About 30 of the Woodland Cree band are said to be Lubicons.


Attachment #5:



Re-printed without permission from The Edmonton Journal, Thursday, December 20, 1990

CREE SIGN LAND-CLAIM AGREEMENT

CALLED LESSON FOR LUBICON



Richard Helm

Journal Staff Writer

Edmonton



The Woodland Cree of northern Alberta have reached an agreement in principle on a land claim only a year after winnning official recognition from Ottawa.

Attorney General Ken Rostad, the Alberta Minister responsible for Indian Afffairs, said the swift settlement should send a message to the Lubicon Lake Indians.



"I think if the Lubicon sat down and said, 'We want a settlement,' and referred the compensation matter, which is essentially betweeen them and the feds, to the courts, they could be in the same ball game," Rostad told reporters.



"If anything, it shows confrontation doesn't work."



The Lubicons have been at odds with government authorities for years over the band's $100-million compensation bid and claim to a 10,000-square-km territory. Several band members were charged with arson and mischief recently after logging equipment was set on fire in the disputed area.



The Woodland Cree Band was formed when a small group of natives sent a petition to Ottawa after talks between the federal government and the Lubicon band broke offf. About 30 of the 340-member Woodland Cree band are said to be disgruntled Lubicon members.



The Woodland Cree, regarded by some natives as a federal government creation to divide the Lubicon Lake Indians, will get $35.1 million in federal funds for othe construction of a new commmunity, another $13 million for a socio- economic development trust fund and $512,000 as cash in lieu of land.



The Alberta government has agreed to transfer to the federal government 14,245 hectares or 55 square miles of land, including mines and minerals, to be set aside as reserves for the band. The reserves will be established in the Cadotte Lake and Marten Lake areas in the heart of Lubicon territory. Cadotte Lake is about 70 km northeast of Peace River.



Alberta is also pitching in a further $5 million and, separate from the land entitlement settlement, a special training and employment program at a cost of up to $3 million.



The proposed settlement, announced Wednesday by Rostad and federal Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon, is subject to final ratification by both governments and the band membership.



Woodland Cree Chief John Cardinal welcomed the announcement.



"What is most imporetant is that this settlement will allow us to build our communities and provide for the economic future of our band members," Cardinal said in a prepared statement.



Last year, about 350 natives from Little Buffalo and surrounding communities petitioned Pierre Cadieux, then federal Indian Affairs Minister, to form a band so they could file a claim with Ottawa. Little Buffalo is about 350 km. northwest of Edmonton.



"The Lubicons were aware that the Woodland Cree had been authenticated and we were coming to an agreement," Rostad said.



"If there's a will and they come to the table reallly wanting to accomplish something, something can be signed."



Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak -- who has said the Woodland Cree are a sham band created by Ottawa as a weapon against the Lubicon -- congratulated the band on its deal. But he noted "the struggle for recognition of Lubicon land rights continues."



Lubicon advisor Fred Lennarson said the Lubicons don't begrudge the Woodland Cree their speedy settlement.



"I'm surprised at the speed they rushed into that settlement. But still we welcome it," Lennarson said.


Attachment #6:



Re-printed without permission from The Edmonton Sun, Thursday, December 20, 1990



CREE BAND STRIKES DEAL

NATIVES NEGOTIATE MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR LAND CLAIM



by David Quigley

Staff Writer



Less than two years after being created, the Woodland Cree band has struck a $56.5 million land claim deal with the federal and Alberta governments.



"I don't know if we asked for too little. It must be something we've done if we've moved this smoothly," Woodland band Chief John Cardinal said of the tentative deal announced yesterday.



While the Woodland Crees' package was negotiated in 18 months, their Lubicon counterpaerts -- the band many once belonged to -- have been trying to reach a land-claim settlement with Ottawa since 1939.



But Alberta Attorney General Ken Rostad, the minister responsible for native affairs, said yesterday the Lubicons have not been willing to compromise.



The province agreed in 1988 to set aside a 246-sq.-km reserve for the Lubicons and Ottawa has offered the 500-member band $45 million in compensation for lost oil and gas revenuess. But the band is holding out for as much as $200 million.



"The Woodland Cree never put forward such a claim," said Rostad, who suggested the Lubicons should strike a land deal, then refer the compensation issue to the courts.



Cardinal said 110 of the 628 members of the Woodland Cree band are former Lubicons who left the band after talks with Ottawa broke off in January 1989.

But Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak has said the band was created by Ottawa to undermine his band's land claim.



Under the agreement in principle with the Woodland Cree, Ottawa will provide up to $35.19 million for construction of a new community, $13 milllion for a socio-economic trust fund and $512,000 as cash in lieu of land.



The Alberta government has agreed to transfer 142 sq. km of land, including mineral rights, to be set aside for reserves in the Cadotte Lake and Marten Lake areas, northeast of Peace River, which is 486 km northwest of Edmonton. Alberta will also kick in up to $8 million toward the settlement.



The settlement is subject to ratification by both governments and the band membership.


Attachment #7:



Re-printed without permission from The Edmonton Sun, Friday, December 21, 1990



LUBICON OFFER CHANGE HINTED



The Woodland Cree land claim deal this week doesn't affect Ottawa's offer to the Lubicons for now, said federal native affairs spokesman Bob Coulter.

But Coulter warned yesterday the offer could change if the number of members in the Lubicon band has changed.



"The offer stands," said Coulter. "But it is based on there being roughly 500 entitled members in the band. There are 160 Lubicons now included in the Woodland Cree agreement."



The Woodland Cree band formed after talks between the federal government and the Lubicons broke off.



"The Lubicons have since added some more people and argue they are members with entitlement. We would have to look at these numbers once we get back to the negotiating table," said Coulter.



Robert Sachs, lawyer for the Lubicon band, said he isn't optimistic a settlement will be reached because of a lack of political will.



The Lubicons have demanded more than $100 million in compensation or lost oil and gas revenues and a 10,000-sq.-km. reserve. The band has been trying to reach a land claim settlement with Ottawa since 1939.



The Woodland Cree will receive up to $35.19 million in principle under the agreement. Another $13 million for a socio-economic trust fund and more than $500,000 as cash in lieu of land has also been promised.



Alberta Attorney General Ken Rostad blamed the delay on the Lubicons this week.


Attachment #8:



Re-printed without permission from The Edmonton Journal, Saturday, December 22, 1990



Editorial:



TIME FOR A LUBICON DEAL



Let there be no mistake about the cynical motivation behind Ottawa's generosity to the Woodland Cree in northern Alberta.



Band members won a reasonable settlement at lightening speed, and good for them. But they would still be a forgotten community in the northern bush if most of them didn't happen to live on Secondary Road 686 a few kilometres away from the Lubicon Lake Cree Band.



The Woodland Cree -- a new name for people who live primarily in Cadotte Lake -- cleared hurdles in 18 months that the Lubicon and hundreds of bands across Canada haven't been able to overcome in a generation.



Aboriginal people know that it's easier to move the Rocky Mountains than to negotiate a land-claim settlement with the federal government. Bands with legal status under the Indian Act have submitted 578 specific claims since 1973, but only 205 have been rejected or resolved.



The Assembly of First Nations asserted this summer that no more than 44 claims have been settled to mutual satisfaction in the past 17 years, although the Fort Chipewyan Cree, the Whitefish Lake and Sturgeon Lake bands in northern Alberta have been successful. Progress has been slower with the large comprehensive claims in the far north.



Ottawa rarely, if ever, recognizes the land entitlements of new bands. Non- status native people are the nobodies of the Indian Act -- unless Ottawa thinks they will serve as a good example to a stubborn band down the road.



According to the federal government's theory, Lubicon Lake band members will look enviously at the two new Woodland Cree reserves, at the $35 million in community construction money, at the $13 million for economic development and the $512,000 cash payment. Perhaps, the argument goes, they will stop claiming compensation for millions of dollars in resource revenue pumped from their own land for years without their permission. Perhaps they will give in.



Congratulating the Woodland Cree on their achievement this week, Attorney General Ken Rostad couldn't help wagging his finger at the Lubicons just like his federal counterparts: "If anything, it shows confrontation doesn't work."



If anything, the new agreement shows that two levels of government will stoop to divide-and-conquer tactics when all else fails.



This is not to say that the Woodland Cree didn't deserve a land-claim settlement. They did, although perhaps they should have had more compensation for lost energy revenue.



On the positive side, this agreement should set a precedent for the residents of five other isolated communities in the northern wilderness between Peace River and Fort McMurray: Trout Lake, Chipewyan Lake, Peerless Lake, Loon Lake and Sandy Lake -- and perhaps for the non-status native people around Grande Cache. These people deserve equal treatment.



But the Lubicon Lake Cree have waited too long, and fought too hard, to surrender now, out of envy for their northern neighbour. It's time for a new round of negotiations to end the stalemate --and both sides should stop being so inflexible.