Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
Little Buffalo Lake, AB
3536 - 106 Street
Edmonton, AB T6J 1A4
July 29, 1991
On July 5 and 6, 1991, the so-called Woodland Cree Band held a referendum on whether or not to accept a settlement package offered to them by the Governments of Canada and Alberta. Enclosed for your information are related media reports.
The Woodland referendum was officially conducted by officials of the Canadian Federal Department of Indian Affairs. Scripted and stage managed by Canadian Government officials would be a more accurate characterization.
In order to assure a good level of voter participation, Woodlanders were picked-up at home, given rides to and from the polling place and paid $50 each to vote. In order to secure a positive electoral result, Woodlanders were promised an additional $1,000 per family member if they voted to accept the Government "offer".
The list of supposedly eligible Woodland voters inexplicably jumped from 268 before the referendum to 295 by the end of the first day of voting to 309 by the time the polls closed -- 30 minutes after the official closing time. During the time of the referendum people were aggressively accosted in their homes, offered an immediate cash payment of $50 if they agreed to vote, promised another $1,000 per family member if they voted the right way and verbally harassed and harangued if they in any way resisted -- real banana republic stuff.
Not surprisingly voter participation in the referendum was an impressive 87% and 98.5% voted to accept the offer. Tougher to understand are the lonesome threesome who reportedly voted to reject the offer.
Likely the lonesome threesome who reportedly voted to reject the "offer" just didn't get their voting instructions straight, or perhaps the Federal Government's script called for three votes to reject the "offer" -- just so referendum results wouldn't look too contrived. With the Mulroney Government either possibility is conceivable.
In defense of the obvious financial inducements to vote and vote the right way, Government officials and Band representatives described in practised unison the $50 per voter cash payment as "expense money", and the promise of an additional $1,000 per family member as merely a "benefit" of the proposed settlement agreement. Independent observers, however, were hard pressed to find Woodlanders who understood much more about the proposed settlement agreement than that they'd be paid $50 to vote and $1,000 per family member if they voted to accept.
Asked what expenses were involved in being driven a couple of blocks to vote and then back home again, Government and Band representatives admitted that not everybody required expense money. However, they said, some people required expense money and everybody had to be treated "equally". (Apparently the Mulroney Government has now developed a peculiar kind of concern for people being treated "equally".)
A couple of days later it was learned that the promised $1,000 payments per family member will be deducted from people's welfare payments over the next few months. Government officials explained that these $1,000 per family member payments would increase a family's income over the maximum allowable income for welfare recipients. Consistent with the Mulroney Government's new concern for equal treatment, Federal Government officials explained that income rules for determining who qualifies for welfare had to be applied to all welfare recipients "equally".
Sudden Mulroney Government concern for "equal treatment" is strange indeed. Stranger still is sudden Mulroney Government concern for the Woodlanders being treated "equally". There wouldn't even be a Woodland Cree Band if the Woodlanders were treated the same as everybody else. And of course all welfare recipients aren't transparently being manipulated into ceding their aboriginal land rights and children's heritage in exchange for welfare payments to which they're entitled in any case.
Squirming under questions from incredulous reporters who just couldn't believe how the referendum was being conducted, Government officials claimed that the $1,000 payments won't be deducted from welfare checks if people used the money to buy furniture for their homes or work clothes. Required home furniture and work clothes are of course already provided to welfare recipients on a special grant basis over and above normal welfare benefits.
Woodland Chief Johnny Cardinal defended the $1,000 per family member payments as "economic development". "Take a family of five," Chief Cardinal said, "that's five grand." "If they go out and purchase a fairly decent vehicle," Chief Cardinal said, "that's economic development."
Chief Cardinal couldn't explain how buying a used vehicle, almost certainly in a neighbouring non-aboriginal community, would constitute Woodlander "economic development". Neither could he explain how buying a used vehicle with what amounts to an advance against subsistence welfare payments -- normally required to purchase basic food and other essentials for one's family -- would constitute Woodlander "economic development". (Purchase of a used vehicle of course clearly won't qualify for exemption from welfare payment deduction as home furniture or work clothes.)
With most Woodlanders dependent on welfare, the Federal Government should be able to fairly quickly recoup most of the $700,000 or so paid out to assure a positive electorial result. While the relationship of such slick dealing to the admirable objectives of equality and economic development might seem more perverse than positive, the Mulroney Government must certainly be given high marks for creativity in buying people's votes with their own welfare money -- sort of a Canadian Oliver North type of operation.
Substantively the Woodland Cree settlement offer consists basically of a reserve land component, an infrastructure component and a so-called "socio- economic development" component. The actual text of the offer has been independently described by two different Lubicon legal advisors as one of the most complicated, convoluted and obscure legal documents they've ever seen. Given the provisions of the offer, the obscure nature of the text is likely intentional.
The reserve land component provides 35,200 acres or 55 square miles of reserve land plus $512,000 from the Canadian Federal Government "in lieu of" an additional 16 square miles of reserve land. $512,000 for 16 square miles of reserve land amounts to $50 per acre for self-selected, tax-free, inalienable Indian land -- about what the Indians got for Manhattan Island.
Although the so-called Woodland Cree Band didn't exist until it was "created" a couple of years ago by the Canadian Government out of disparate individuals from a half-a-dozen different aboriginal societies, and consequently couldn't have conceivably been a party to treaty negotiated in 1899 except by very recent adhesion -- which hasn't happened -- the Woodland Cree settlement offer is explicitly a settlement offer under the terms of Treaty 8. Ignoring the normal niceties of traditional Treaty- making the proposed Woodland Cree settlement offer simply proclaims that "the members of the Woodland Cree Indian Band are subject to the terms of and are entitled to the benefits of Treaty 8."
Using the Treaty 8 formula of 128 acres per person, 35,200 acres of reserve land would provide for 275 people. The additional 16 square miles of reserve land which are in effect being sold by the Woodlanders to the Canadian Government for the incredibly low price of $50 per acre would provide for 80 more people, or, in other words, a total of 355 people were counted for purposes of calculating Woodland Cree reserve land size.
Woodland Chief Johnny Cardinal publicly claims a Woodland Cree membership of about 700 members. It thus appears that only about half of the Woodland Cree are being counted for purposes of calculating Woodland Cree reserve land size, or, in other words, the Woodland Cree are being provided only about half of the reserve land to which they are supposedly entitled under Treaty 8. That's the kind of "equal treatment" aboriginal people have come to expect from both levels of Canadian Government.
Provisions of the Woodland Cree settlement offer regarding sub-surface rights -- normally included with all Indian reserves in Alberta -- are deliberately complicated but basically provide sub-surface rights only with reserve lands that have no known sub-surface resources, or, in other words, sub-surface rights are explicitly not included with reserve lands that are known to contain sub-surface resources. In an area which has been thoroughly assessed for the existence of valuable sub-surface resources, it's not likely that sub-surface resources will be discovered in areas not now known to contain such valuable sub-surface resources. This is again very tricky business in which the Alberta Provincial Government had to be heavily involved. Consequently both levels of Canadian Government must be given high marks for this kind of "now-you-see-it, now-you-don't" carnival huckster type of creativity.
On balance the infrastructure component (housing, roads, water, sewer, community institutions and facilities) of the Woodland Cree settlement offer is a little better than the other two components but it still lacks key facilities and institutions crucial to development of an independent, self-reliant aboriginal community in the Canadian North -- such as basic commercial facilities, recreational facilities, facilities to support absolutely essential vocational training and facilities to provide necessary care for young children and for old people.
As in the case of the so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer to the Lubicons, the proposed Woodland infrastructure component is based on an anticipated on-reserve population of 450 people. One might therefore logically expect similar arrangements, facilities and infrastructure. Generally speaking, however, the proposed Woodland infrastructure component is considerably firmer than the so-called Lubicon "offer" as well as including significantly bigger numbers.
The community health unit provisions in the Woodland settlement offer, for example, read that "A separate agreement between the (Woodland Cree) and Health and Welfare Canada has been developed for a ($550,000) facility". By way of contrast the so-called Lubicon "take-it-or-leave-it" offer reads "preliminary information indicates (Health and Welfare Canada) may fund $350,000 (for a community health unit)" and "It is recommended that the (Lubicons) discuss funding with NH&W".
"Housing", "contingencies", "risk elements" and "institutional planning" are the same in the Lubicon and Woodland "offers".
Only two items are budgeted higher in the so-called Lubicon infrastructure "offer" than in the Woodland offer -- roads and electrification. Lubicon roads are budgeted at $5,200,000 vs. $2,300,000 for the Woodlanders; Lubicon electrification is budgeted at $1,250,000 vs. $255,000 for the Woodlanders. (Since the per unit cost of these two items is pretty well standardized, one can only conclude that the lay-out of the proposed Woodland reserve requires fewer roads and a less extensive electrical system. This makes sense with most of the Woodland Cree population apparently planning to live in the existing community of Cadotte Lake located on Provincial Highway 686.)
In spite of an identical planning population everything else in the Woodland infrastructure package is budgeted higher than in the so-called Lubicon offer with specific numbers as follows:
- water at $1,400,000 for the Lubicons vs. $2,793,000 for the Woodlanders;
- sewage at $1,315,000 to $1,390,000 for the Lubicons vs. $1,568,000 for the Woodlanders;
- gasification at $350,000 for the Lubicons vs. $406,000 for the Woodlanders;
- a school at $3,545,000 to $3,775,000 for the Lubicons vs. $3,942,000 to $4,257,000 for the Woodlanders:
- teacherages at $732,000 for the Lubicons vs. $840,000 for the Woodlanders;
- a Band Office at $400,000 for the Lubicons vs. $435,000 for the Woodlanders;
- a community hall at $100,000 for the Lubicons vs. $200,000 for the Woodlanders;
- a health unit at $350,000 for the Lubicons vs. $550,000 for the Woodlanders;
- a community garage at $200,000 for the Lubicons vs. $336,000 for the Woodlanders;
- a fire hall at $152,000 for the Lubicons vs. $175,000 for the Woodlanders;
- a fire truck at $120,000 for the Lubicons vs. $131,000 for the Woodlanders;
- a garbage truck at $40,000 for the Lubicons vs. $46,500 for the Woodlanders;
- a road grader at $200,000 for the Lubicons vs. $232,000 for the Woodlanders;
- a backhoe at $70,000 for the Lubicons vs. $81,000 for the Woodlanders;
- a water truck at $135,000 for the Woodlanders (included in the earlier quoted $1.4 million Lubicon water system);
- a sewer truck at $85,000 for the Woodlanders (included in the earlier quoted $1.315 to $1.390 million Lubicon sewer system);
- staff housing at $200,000 for the Lubicons vs. $206,000 for the Woodlanders;
- project planning and management at $1,350,000 for the
Lubicons vs. $1,475,000 for the Woodlanders;
- a total infrastructure package of $34,050,000 for the
Lubicons vs. $35,192,000 for the Woodlanders.
Provisions of the so-called "socio-economic" component of the Woodland settlement offer describe it as basically compensation for lost treaty programs, benefits and services -- things which the Woodlanders supposedly should have been receiving since Treaty 8 was first negotiated in 1899 but weren't. This is of course an absurdity given that the so-called Woodland Cree Band didn't exist until a couple of years ago when it was "created" out of whole cloth by the Canadian Government -- demonstrating once again the remarkable creativity of the Mulroney Government when it really wants to do something.
The Woodland "socio-economic" component consists of:
- 13 million from the Canadian Federal Government within 30 days of signing the agreement for purposes of "socio-economic development, training, education development and the development of a socio-economic development programme";
- one million more from the Canadian Federal Government for the same above indicated socio-economic development purpose but provided instead on or before March 31, 1992;
- five million more from the Alberta Provincial Government likely provided at the rate of $500,000 per year for a period of ten years (ala an earlier negotiated "Memorandum of Intent");
- the resulting 19 million dollar total in "socio-economic" developments funds to be allocated as follows:
- 15 million of the 19 million (likely 10 million up front from the Federal Government plus $500,000 a year for a period of ten years from the Provincial Government) is to be deposited in a so-called "Capital Account". This so-called "Capital Account" is supposedly intended to provide the money for earlier mentioned "socio-economic development, training, education development and the development of a socio-economic development programme".
- 3 million of the remaining 4 million is to be deposited by the Federal Government within 30 days of the signing of the agreement in a so-called "Revenue Account", with the remaining million then also to be deposited into this same "Revenue Account" by the Federal Government on or before March 31, 1992. The purpose of this so-called "Revenue Account" is to provide Woodlanders with the bane of independent Band funds; namely, annual "per capita distribution" of money to individual Band members. (The Lubicons have from the very beginning expressly rejected the possibility of per capita distributions in any Lubicon settlement.)
- 35% of the annual interest generated by the "Capital Account" is to be retained in the "Capital Account" (probably about $160,000 at an annual post inflation rate of perhaps 4.5% and then decreasing as "Capital Account" funds are expended), plus the earlier mentioned $500,000 a year for a period of ten years will presumably also be added to the "Capital Account" by the Provincial Government.
- the remaining 65% of the interest generated by the "Capital Account" (probably about $290,000 the first year at an annual post inflation rate of perhaps 4.5% and then decreasing as "Capital Account" funds are expended) is to be deposited in the "Revenue Account" for "per capita" distributions.
- 33 1/3 of the total funds in the "Capital Account" (about $3.3 million in the first year and then decreasing as "Capital Account" funds are expended) may be spent each year on anything other than per capita distributions, presumably unspecified community "economic development" projects -- provided that 80% of eligible Band electors approve. (Woodland Chief Johnny Cardinal publicly admits that the Woodland Cree have no economic development plan beyond labour jobs for untrained Band members which reserve housing and road construction will generate. "We're in no rush", Chief Cardinal says. "We're looking for a consultant and now that we have the settlement we can take our time and come up with a plan in the next 6 months or a year". Obviously Chief Cardinal's Government selected and paid advisors have failed to explain to him the relevant relationship between economic development plans and the crucial funding of any such plans.)
- Woodland Chief and Council may on their own volition authorize annual per capita distributions of up to 25% of the "Revenue Account". 25% of a four million dollar "Revenue Account" is a million dollars the first year and then decreasing as "Revenue Account" monies are expended. (One million dollars divided by 700 people is about $1,400 dollars per person the first year and then decreasing as "Revenue Account" monies are spent. $1,400 per person and then decreasing as "Revenue Account" are spent is of course not enough to make much of a difference to the lives of individuals but is large enough to rapidly deplete available "Revenue Account" funds.)
- to provide a sense of the magnitude of the per capita distributions being contemplated by the Woodlanders -- suggesting among other things how little they appreciate the amount of money with which they have to work -- the proposed Woodland settlement offer explicitly provides that per capita distributions to minor children of under $3,000 are to be paid directly to parents or guardians, while per capita distributions to minor children of over $3,000 are to be held in trust by the Federal Minister until such children reach the age of majority. (Experience has predictably proven that entrusting the Federal Indian Affairs Minister with Indian monies is like trusting the fox to guard the chicken coop.)
- neither the addition of up to about $700,000 ($500,000 from the Province and approximately $160,000 in interest) to the "Capital Account" year one and then decreasing, nor the addition of up to about $300,000 in interest from the "Capital Account" to the "Revenue Account" year one and then decreasing, will significantly alter the rapidly depleting magnitude of either account, both of which will have been predictably reduced to the Province's $500,000 dollar a year contribution within a period of 4-5 years, and then be effectively gone altogether when the Province's $500,000 a year contribution stops being provided five years later. For purposes of reference the current annual Lubicon welfare tab exceeds $500,000, as almost certainly does the current annual Woodland welfare tab.
- lastly media reports refer to $3 million from the Province supposedly for "on-reserve vocational training". Since there is no such provision in the proposed main settlement agreement this offer must be in the form of a subsidiary agreement between the Woodlanders and the Province, which is not available but which reliable sources indicate is exactly the same offer of "up to $3 million" supposedly for "vocational training" made to the Lubicons by the Province. (The Provincial Government "offer" to the Lubicons in fact turned out to be an offer to set up A PROVINCIALLY OWNED AND OPERATED ACADEMIC UP-GRADING TRAILER LOCATED JUST OFF RESERVE AT AN ESTIMATED COST TO THE PROVINCE OF APPROXIMATELY $500,000 PER YEAR FOR A PERIOD OF FIVE YEARS. While academic up-grading is often a pre- requisite of vocational training the two clearly aren't the same, and while an offer to make an existing Provincial Government academic up-grading program available to the Woodlanders isn't exactly an offer to provide the Woodlanders with $3 million for vocational training, and while a location "just off-reserve" on lands under Provincial Government jurisdiction and control is significantly different than a location on-reserve under Woodland control and jurisdiction, such notable differences in the public portrayal of the proposed Woodland settlement agreement and the reality of it are perfectly consistent with the way other elements of the offer are being publicly misrepresented.)
In short the socio-economic provisions of the proposed Woodland settlement agreement practically insure that the Woodlanders will never become anything other than helpless, hapless, and forever dependent welfare recipients. Both levels of Canadian Government clearly intend it that way. Moreover both levels of Canadian Government now clearly intend to try and use the bought-and-paid-for acceptance of this proposed settlement offer by this artificial, Canadian Government created aboriginal society as a primary precedent for dealing with the increasingly serious problem of aboriginal land rights in Canada.
Presumably the operative theory of both levels of Canadian Government is that helpless, hapless and forever dependent welfare recipients are less likely to ever effectively challenge the continuing wholesale theft of aboriginal lands and resources. History has repeatedly proven the lack of wisdom in such an approach, but wisdom is not the long suit of Canadian politicians -- few of whom seem to have much appreciation of history beyond what appears on the front page of the morning newspaper.
Attachment #1: re-printed without permission from THE EDMONTON SUNDAY SUN, July 7, 1991
INDIANS ACCEPT OFFER
Members of the Woodland Cree band last night voted overwhelmingly to accept a land claim settlement offer.
Chief John Cardinal said 98.5 per cent of the 268 people who cast ballots at the 7 p.m. vote, favored the $53-million, 160-sq.-km land claim settlement.
There were 309 people eligible to vote on the federal and provincial governments' settlement offer.
"I'm very happy," Cardinal said from his Cadotte Lake home, 360 km northwest of Edmonton. "Now that we've said yes, we've got a reserve.
"We've never lived on a reserve and I've got a feeling it's going to be great."
The Woodland Cree band split from the Lubicon Lake settlement last year.
The Lubicons have been fighting the land claims battle for 52 years and have rejected settlement offers by the provincial and federal governments.
Cardinal refused to comment on any problems between the two bands.
Attachment #2: re-printed without permission from THE EDMONTON JOURNAL, Sunday, July 7, 1991
WOODLAND CREE ACCEPT $56M DEAL
Former Lubicons in band that settled land claim with Ottawa
Journal Staff Writer
Members of Alberta's newest Indian band are planning for new houses and running water after overwhelmingly approving a land-claim agreement with the federal government.
When the tally was in Saturday, 98.5 per cent of the 268 Woodland Cree members who voted had endorsed the $56-million deal. The band has 670 members of whom 309 were eligible to vote.
The agreement also provides for at least 143 square km of land at Cadotte Lake, 60 km east of Peace River.
After a formal signing of documents later this summer or fall, the band will get down to the detailed planning for a community hall, new roads, piped water and sewer and up to 150 new houses to be built in the next five years.
"We're going to benefit from this. We're talking about running water and proper heating in the houses. We're still living, some of us, with space heating and wood burners," says Chief John Cardinal.
"People lived like that 50 years ago. It would be a big change for Woodland."
The reserve includes part of the existing community of Cadotte Lake and is away from the known oil and gas formations in the area. Most of the land is useless for farming.
About $35 million is to be spent for housing, roads and other infrastructure. The balance will be invested, with part of it used for new capital projects and part to finance economic development projects.
The band was formally recognized by the federal government in August 1989 during protracted negotiations with the Lubicon Lake band at Little Buffalo, 20 km east of Cadotte Lake.
Cadotte Lake and Little Buffalo were among about 10 isolated communities that joined together in the late 1970s to seek recognition from the federal government.
As talks bogged down only the Lubicons at Little Buffalo continued the fight in and out of court, at the United Nations, at the Winter Olympics in Calgary in 1988 and at road barricades at Little Buffalo.
About 25 per cent of the Woodland Cree band are former members of the Lubicon Lake band, including Chief John Cardinal.
The band is not recognized by the Indian Association of Alberta but that doesn't bother Chief Cardinal.
"I really want to keep away from that. If I start talking about other Indian organizations, I may say something bad and that's one thing we shouldn't be doing.
"No matter what happens we've got the reserve now, the vote is yes and we're going to continue on with our lives. What else is there to do?"
Attachment #3: re-printed without permission from "The Toronto Globe & Mail", Monday, July 07, 1991
CREES GET $50 EACH TO VOTE ON PACT
Band ratifies reserve offer
by John Goddard
Special to The Globe & Mail
Members of the Woodland Cree Band of northern Alberta voted overwhelmingly on the weekend to ratify a controversial land-rights agreement with the federal government, but the referendum was riddled with irregularities.
The Band paid each member $50 on the spot and promised $1,000 for a positive outcome in the two-day vote, organized and monitored by officials of the federal Department of Indian Affairs.
"We are not buying votes," Woodland Chief John Cardinal said of the payments. "Some people needed money for expenses and we have to treat everybody equally."
At stake was an offer to establish a 143-square-kilometre reserve for 450 people over five years at a cost of $29-million. The band is to receive $19-million from the federal and Alberta governments for economic development, but give up all rights to known oil-sands deposits on the proposed reserve.
Roger Cardinal, an Indian Affairs official from Edmonton serving as chief electoral officer, said the payments to Band members were not his concern.
"All I do is ensure that people are eligible to vote," he said, although he declined to explain how the number of eligible voters rose from 268 a week ago to 295 on Friday and 309 by the time polls closed on Saturday night.
He also would not say why polls were still open more than 30 minutes past the official closing time.
Official results showed an 87-per-cent turnout, with 98.5 per cent of the voters supporting an agreement that would establish a reserve at Cadotte Lake, 600 km northwest of Edmonton.
Interest in the referendum is high among native people in Alberta and elsewhere because the Woodland Cree Band is widely seen as an artificial creation of Indian Affairs designed to split the Lubicon Lake Band, which the federal government has viewed as troublesome.
The Cadotte and Lubicon areas are located within the oil-rich Athabasca oil sands. Subsurface rights have been one of the issues blocking a resolution of a Lubicon land agreement for more than 50 years.
Chiefs throughout northern Alberta unanimously reaffirmed at a meeting last week a decision not to recognize the Woodland Crees, regardless of the referendum outcome.
The Woodland Band was created two years ago under an obscure section of the Indian Act that allows the federal minister to divide bands virtually at will.
The Woodland Cree group includes former members of the Lubicon and other bands throughout Alberta, as well as people previously denied official Indian status.
To accommodate all members in the referendum, polling stations were set up at Cadotte Lake, Peace River, Slave Lake and the federal building in Edmonton, with drivers hired to transport voters from eight districts.
"It's pitiful," Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak said of the results. "Indian Affairs ran everything. I think the federal government should be ashamed."
Ross Harvey, an Edmonton MP and the New Democratic native-affairs critic, said in an interview on Saturday: "The Woodland Cree was conjured out of nothing. The manipulation that has characterized the formation of the band and the treaty-negotiation process obviously continues."
Bob Coulter, an Indian Affairs official who helped to co-ordinate the formation of the band and took part in negotiations on a reserve settlement, said he is "not an expert on the administration of referendums" but is satisfied the vote was conducted properly. The agreement will go before the Treasury Board on Wednesday for final federal approval, he said, acknowledging that the matter is being given high priority.
Attachment #4: re-printed without permission from THE EDMONTON SUN, Monday, July 8, 1991
BREAKAWAY BAND "BEING USED"
Lubicons cite sadness at Indian land claims settlement
by Shelley Decker
The Lubicon Lake band advisor pities a breakaway Indian band after its members signed a $54-million land claim settlement.
"I don't think any of the Lubicons wish these individuals ill," Fred Lennarson said yesterday of the Woodland Cree band's Saturday night decision to accept the federal and provincial governments' offer.
"It's just so sad that they are being used and allowing themselves to be used," Lennarson said.
Woodland members voted 98.5 per cent in favor of accepting the $54-million package. The band will get at least 143 sq. km of land.
Chief John Cardinal said the new package will greatly improve life for his band members.
Of the funds, $35 million will be spent on housing and other improvements and $19 million is allotted for economic development.
The land for the new reserve will be near Cadotte Lake, 360 km northwest of Edmonton, and won't infringe on the area wanted by any other bands.
But Lennarson said accepting the deal was not wise. "There are no more provisions in this package...for these people to achieve economic self- sufficiency."
The Lubicons have been fighting a land claims battle for 52 years and have rejected settlement offers from the federal and provincial governments.
Cardinal also denied a $50 fee paid to voters was an attempt to buy votes.
He said the money covered travel expenses and made up for lost wages.
"It may look like we're buying votes but that was not the intention," Cardinal said.
"They could have come and voted 'no,' and we'd still have paid them. We had no way of knowing what they voted."
The Woodland band was recognized by the federal government in August 1989 after separating from the Lubicons.
Cardinal has said 110 of his 628 members are former Lubicons, who left the band after talks with Ottawa broke off in January, 1989.
Neither the Indian Association of Alberta, nor the Lubicons recognize the new band.
WITH FILES FROM CP
Attachment #5: re-printed without permission from THE EDMONTON JOURNAL, Monday, July 8, 1991
BAND VOTE NOT BOUGHT, WOODLAND CHIEF SAYS
The Canadian Press
The chief of Alberta's newest Indian band says the band council wasn't buying votes when it gave $50 to members who cast ballots in a referendum on a land-claim settlement.
Chief John Cardinal said the 268 members of the Woodland Cree who voted on a federal land-claim package were given money as compensation for travel expenses or if they had to miss work.
"It may look like we're buying votes but that was not the intention," Cardinal said in a telephone interview Sunday from his home in Little Buffalo Lake about 400 kilometres northwest of Edmonton. "They could have come and voted 'no,' and we'd still have paid them. We had no way of knowing what they voted."
About 98 per cent of the 268 members who voted endorsed the $56-million deal. The band has 670 members of which 309 were eligible to vote.
An official with the federal Indian Affairs Department, who acted as chief electoral officer for the vote, said the allegations of vote-buying were nonsense.
"A lot of people came from far out of town and they got gas money," said Roger Cardinal, who is based in Edmonton. "The band took great pains to ensure a person's right to a free vote was protected."
Band members were also promised $1,000 if the land-claim settlement was accepted. The Woodland chief said the money represented each member's share of the settlement deal.
John Cardinal described the money as "peanuts" compared with payments given to members of other bands that get income from oil royalties.
The Woodland Cree band was formally recognized by the federal government in August 1989 during protracted negotiations with the Lubicon Lake band.
When contacted late Sunday, Lubicon spokesman Fred Lennarson said he was sceptical of the $50 payment. "Cadotte Lake is a small community, you can walk from one end of it to the other in two minutes. And people were literally being provided with rides from their homes to the polling place in vans and given $50."
Attachment #6: Transcript of CFRN TV's MONDAY FORUM ON NATIVE ISSUES (7:00 P.M.) Monday, July 08, 1991
Excerpt from CFRN Television program "Monday Forum"
Susan Amerongen, CFRN TV
This past weekend the Woodland Cree, some of whose members were part of the Lubicon Lake Indian Band, settled an agreement with Ottawa worth $54 million. Bernard what do you think of that agreement? It's quite sizeable.
Chief Bernard Ominayak, Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
I'm not completely up to date in so far on what the agreement contains, but of course it's a great deal...for the federal government. The Woodland Cree recruited 700 members and yet they are getting land for maybe 275 people which they have to share. If people are looking towards the future and their younger generations, then it's not so good for native people. But if you're looking from the government's point of view then it's an awfully good deal, because you've probably 400 people or better giving up their rights for absolutely nothing. These are things that we've been looking at and hopefully we don't get into the same trap that the federal government has done to these people. I'd hate to be Johnny Cardinal at this point in time where he's helped the federal government shaft his own people.
So you're saying that those people got a raw deal?
I say the government got a good deal...both levels of government -- because the Province of Alberta and the federal government were involved hand-in-hand in working this deal out with these people. On top of that they're paying people to go vote...It's been a scandal throughout. The Woodland were created to divide and conquer the Lubicon people initially under the Indian Act Section 17. So while they're doing this, they're taking a hard line with the Lubicon people, and they've taken a hard line with the Mohawk people because of the Oka crisis. People are standing up to them and it seems like the Mulroney Government wants to beat the people who stand up to them into the ground. That's what we're seeing. For example, Lawrence (Courtoreille) mentioned racism...in the court process. The same thing applies here. There's a whole lot of political interference in the courts and so on. These are all geared toward keeping native people down.
Attachment #7: Transcript of CFRN Television Eye Witness News (6:00 P.M.) Monday, July 08, 1991
Chris O'Brien, CFRN
A spokesman for the Lubicon Indian Band accuses the federal government of using trickery to sign a land claim deal. Ottawa has just signed a $56 million land claim settlement with the Woodland Cree Band of northwestern Alberta. The Woodland Cree broke away from the Lubicons who are still bogged down in settlement talks of their own. Today Lubicon spokesmen say the Woodland deal simply isn't good enough.
Fred Lennarson, Lubicon Advisor
It's like building a new zoo to put people in, putting them in nice clean new cages and then feeding them on welfare for the rest of their lives. There's no future...
Attachment #8: Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (7:30 A.M.) Monday, July 8, 1991
Phil Henry, CBC News
An advisor to the Lubicon Indians says a land claim settlement for the Woodland Cree will keep Band members on welfare. Fred Lennarson says the government will use the settlement as an example of its ability to work with Native people. And he admits the deal will make it harder for the Lubicons to reach a fair settlement. Dave Cooper reports.
Dave Cooper, CBC News
Over the weekend the Woodland Cree Band in northern Alberta voted in favour of a land claim settlement. It gives them a reserve east of Peace River and a package worth about $56 million. The Band has been controversial since the Federal Government helped put it together two years ago after talks broke down between the government and the Lubicon Indians. Some of the Woodland Cree used to be in the Lubicon Band. Fred Lennarson, an advisor to the Lubicons, says the Woodland Cree aren't getting much. Most of the money is for capital projects like roads, houses and water. He says there's not much for economic development.
Fred Lennarson, Lubicon Indian Nation Advisor
You have a $10 million fund essentially with $3-3.3 million a year available to you to engage in economic development. There's bloody little that you can do with $3 million a year for 3 years...to establish an independent economy for a society of 500 people in the Canadian North.
Lennarson says he thinks the deal will leave the Woodland Cree on welfare. Still he expects the Federal Government will use the Woodland settlement to put pressure on the Lubicons.
It appears to be, in many respects, similar to the "take-it-or-leave-it" offer made to the Lubicons. Undoubtedly the Government will say, "We made the same offer to two groups and one accepted it and the other did not."
Lennarson says the Government is going to have a hard time pointing to the Woodland Cree deal as a great success when official Indian organizations in the country refuse to recognize the Woodland Cree. Dave Cooper, CBC, Edmonton.
Attachment #9: Transcript of CBC TV ALBERTA WEEKEND NEWS (11:00 P.M.) Sunday, July 07, 1991
Pat Barford, CBC
Tonight on the CBC Alberta News Weekend edition -- charges of vote buying. The Woodland Cree controversy continues.
There's more controversy tonight over the Woodland Cree land claims vote. Last night we told you the Band members voted overwhelmingly in favor of accepting a $56 million land claim deal with Ottawa. Tonight there are charges of vote buying. Grant Gelinas reports.
Grant Gelinas, CBC
The Woodland Cree Band was born almost overnight in northern Alberta two years ago in a storm of controversy. Ottawa organized the Woodland after a neighbouring Band, the Lubicons, rejected Ottawa's final land claim offer. Other Indian organizations across Canada refuse to recognize the Woodland. But some Lubicons jumped to the Woodland Cree, and yesterday they voted to accept essentially the same deal offered the Lubicons.
Fred Lennarson, Lubicon Lake Nation advisor
....this is blatant.
Today Fred Lennarson, an advisor to the Lubicons, is accusing the Woodlands of buying off voters.
They were told that if the settlement agreement was accepted they would be given $1,000.
Woodland Chief John Cardinal doesn't deny that, but says it's not vote- buying.
Chief John Cardinal, Woodland Cree Band
Yeh, I guess that's...how outside people look at it. But we've got the settlement and we agreed what was offered on the table and we're going to continue on with our lives. I mean, I don't know why there's a big stink about $1,000 distribution for the members.
Members were also given $50 for voting, for their travelling expenses. The Woodland got a big turnout and only 3 people of 260 voted no.
They're not saying: "This is a big responsibility you have. The future of your children and grandchildren, depends upon the decision you make. Think about it very carefully before you cast your vote." They're rather providing financial inducements to get people to vote, and secondly vote to accept.
As well, Lennarson says $3 million a year the deal gives to the Woodland for economic development isn't enough to provide permanent jobs for the Band. Chief Cardinal says at least it's more than they have now. He expects the Band to get its money in a few months. Grant Gelinas, Edmonton.
Attachment #10: re-printed without permission from THE EDMONTON JOURNAL, Tuesday, July 9, 1991
DIVIDING INDIANS TO RULE
Whenever Canadians begin to hope that Ottawa's relationship with aboriginal people is rising above the shameful, something happens to hurtle us all back down to the gutter. The bad, old days of paternalism just won't go away.
The federal Department of Indian Affairs has just presided over a referendum in northern Alberta in which a chief and council paid voters $50 cash on the spot for "expenses", whether they had travelled any distance to the polling station or not. The Woodland Cree land claim ratification vote had an 87 per cent turnout; 98.5 per cent of the voters supported the band council's position, which just so happened to be the federal government's position, too. Democratic principles can be as flexible as putty, can't they?
The chief electoral officer for the plebiscite -- needless to say, a bureaucrat from the all-knowing Department of Indian Affairs -- later said the payments were not his concern. "All I do is ensure that people are eligible to vote," he said.
Stop for a minute. Try to imagine an electoral officer in any other Canadian election -- federal, provincial or municipal -- shrugging off cash payments to voters at polling stations on voting day. It would never happen. Yet the civil servants who "monitored" the Woodland Cree vote over the weekend appear unperturbed by the double standard in Canadian voting practices.
It's true that the Woodland Cree would probably have approved the offer of a reserve whether or not they were paid $50 to vote, or were promised an individual $1,000 payment after the cash settlement, but that isn't the point.
Any offer was better than nothing for the majority of band members who previously had no land, and no recognized treaty status. Given the poverty in Cadotte Lake, the elders' experience with involuntary relocation a generation ago, and the long stalemate in the neighboring Lubicon Lake band's land claim, it would be unfair to criticize band members for voting in favor of a bad deal. They certainly deserved a settlement of some kind, and in their situation, many of us might have voted the same way.
That doesn't make the land claim deal, or the casual rules of the referendum, right.
Ottawa's offer deprives the new band of its share of future oil and gas wealth in the Peace Arch region, a rich geological formation that has been yielding $300 million annually in royalties alone. The Woodland Cree accepted a reserve at Cadotte Lake, away from the known oil and gas deposits, in exchange for a $56 million development package. Most of that money will disappear quickly as the band builds a community hall, new road, piped water and sewer lines and up to 150 new houses to replace inadequate, overcrowded homes; the smaller balance will be invested for future capital projects and unspecified economic plans.
"We're going to benefit from this," insists Chief John Cardinal. "We're talking about running water and proper heating in the houses." Fine, but what will families in warmer houses do for an income once the limited settlement is all spent? They'll be back where they started, with nothing, watching the wealth of their traditional land flow south to Edmonton, Calgary and beyond.
The blame for this deal belongs not with the band members, or even with the chief and council, who decided together that half a loaf was better than none. The blame rests with the federal government for deciding to punish the stubborn Lubicon Lake band by rewarding a poor neighbor, and with the Alberta cabinet for going along with the charade for considerable economic advantage.
What an irony. Just as Constitutional Affairs Minister Joe Clark makes a greater effort to include aboriginal people in critical constitutional talks, the Department of Indian Affairs uses its old divide-and-conquer techniques to subvert the legitimate aspirations of isolated, native communities in the "back lakes" district of northern Alberta. Albertans can take no pride in this land claim settlement, none at all.
Attachment #11: re-printed without permission from THE EDMONTON JOURNAL, Tuesday, July 9, 1991
$59M SETTLEMENT CALLED 'WELFARE' FOR WOODLAND CREE
Journal Staff Writer
The latest Alberta Indians to accept a federal land settlement have set themselves up for a live of welfare, says a land-claim adviser to the Lubicon Lake Band.
The $56-million package approved by the Woodland Cree Saturday provides no opportunities for future economic development, said Fred Lennarson.
The Woodland Cree splintered from the Lubicon in 1989 and their settlement is a move by the federal government to crush the Lubicon and their demands, he said.
"(The agreement) is obviously inadequate...This will build the people new homes in which to live on welfare. They will be like animals in a zoo. There'll be in clean cages, but they'll be fed through the Canadian welfare system."
About 98 per cent of the 268 Woodland members who voted endorsed the deal, which includes 143 square km of land at Cadotte Lake, 60 km east of Peace River, and $35-million for housing, roads and other infrastructure.
Woodland Chief John Cardinal said the 670-member band made the best deal possible and he believes the band will prosper, although he admits it doesn't have a long-range economic plan.
"Some people are saying (the settlement) is not enough. But what was there before was nothing. Now we have something."
An economic plan is now a priority for the band, Cardinal said.
Over the next five years of housing and road development, some members will learn trades, he said.
Attachment #12: re-printed without permission from THE EDMONTON JOURNAL, Thursday, July 11, 1991
WOODLAND CREE LOOK TO FUTURE WITH CASH, LAND OF THEIR OWN
But their deal with Ottawa has left many families divided
Journal Staff Writer
With the promise of thousands of dollars about to be delivered, members of Alberta's newest Indian band are making wish lists.
Anna Thunder wants a washer and dryer. Deedee Williams will add a room to the home he shares with Nancy Laboucan.
"I'm going to buy a lot of candy," said Joe Whitehead, an elder on the Woodland Cree band council.
Whitehead's candy may prove to be the only sweet part of the band's controversial land and cash settlement that has bitterly divided families and northern communities, and isolated the new band from native organizations.
"They'll soon regret it," predicted Lubicon Lake chief Bernard Ominayak, who rejected a similar offer two years ago and saw the Woodland group form from members of his band.
The more than 700 Woodland Cree were promised $1,000 each if they approved the deal that delivers 142 square km of land with oil and mineral rights, plus more than $52 million.
They voted overwhelmingly in favor of the deal last week and the settlement bonus is expected to be paid later this month when the paperwork clears the last bureaucrat's desk.
In the homes of many Woodland Cree band members, that will add up to a fairly substantial "economic development," Chief John Cardinal said Wednesday.
"Take a family of five, that's five grand. They go out and purchase a fairly decent vehicle. That's economic development."
The $1,000 pre-vote cash offer has raised questions of ethical conduct, but Cardinal said "every band distributes dollars to their membership. That's Indian money and we handled it the best way we know."
Ominayak rejected any comparison between the $1,000 offer and royalty payments some bands make to their members. "I don't recall ever hearing of people being offered money to vote. I guess there's a first time for everything."
Under the Woodland agreement, the band gets:
*A total of $19 million from Ottawa and Alberta to be held in trust and pay band operating expenses.
*Reserve land of 142 square km, with subsurface rights -- but not to existing discoveries -- plus $512,000 for 41 square km the band sold back to the government.
*$3 million from the province for vocational training on the reserve.
*$28.8 million for community development -- roads, houses and running water -- to be paid by Ottawa over the next five years.
Bob Coulter, spokesman for Indian Affairs said "we hope the settlement will produce a higher level of employment and in the long run will result in greater independence."
Over the next five years, Cardinal says grants for 120 homes, a water system, and new roads will provide trades training and create employment for band members.
"Life has changed here already," Cardinal said, glancing around the band council meeting room, its walls decorated with aerial photographs marked with red and blue markers showing the lot lines of a proposed new subdivision.
Attachment #13: re-printed without permission from THE GLOBE AND MAIL, Friday, July 12, 1991
CREE BAND GETS SAD NEWS ON CASH
Money paid in referendum deal will be subtracted from welfare
By John Goddard
Special to The Globe and Mail
CADOTTE LAKE, Alta. -- Members of the Woodland Cree Band, who thought they were getting $1,000 each as a part of an agreement to extinguish aboriginal land title, are slowly finding out that the equivalent amount will be deducted from their welfare payments.
"We were never told," band member Beverly Sawan said this week, in the latest development in a controversial land-rights process in Northern Alberta. The money was paid to the Crees by the band leadership, who denied they were buying referendum votes.
Normally, band members would be informed of the circumstances involving welfare recipients, said Susan Williams, director-general of social development for Indian Affairs in Ottawa, although she was not able to confirm whether people have been told in this case.
"If you come into cash through earnings or whatever, you don't qualify for the same level of social assistance," she said. "The fairness lies in that they are being treated the same way as everybody else."
Dolly Letendre, welfare officer for the Woodland Cree, said members would be informed soon. "I have the letter typed up," she said.
Under the land agreement ratified in a referendum organized by Indian Affairs officials on the weekend, a 143-square-kilometre reserve is to be established at Cadotte Lake, 600 kilometres northwest of Edmonton. The band is to receive housing and infrastructure for 450 members at a cost of $29-million over five years and a $19-million economic-development package, while giving up rights to known oil deposits on reserve land.
The deal is controversial because the band is widely viewed among native people as being artificially created by Ottawa to undermine the tough aboriginal-rights position of the neighbouring Lubicon Lake Band. The Woodland Cree Band was created two years ago from widely dispersed sources, many of the recruits having tried unsuccessfully for years to obtain Indian status.
In the two-day referendum conducted to seal the agreement, the band paid voters $50 each and promised $1,000 to each member if the outcome proved to be positive. Gary Wouters, director-general of Indian Affairs for Alberta, said Wednesday he plans no review of the voting procedure.
Exactly how many of the 700 Woodland Cree members who will find their payments channelled to welfare coffers cannot be released under federal policy. But the welfare rate among members is high.
"The Woodlanders are a priority because they're good little Indians," Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak said yesterday. "The federal and provincial governments are saying that they are nice guys and if they have nice Indians to deal with they can come to an agreement. Meanwhile, a lot of other native people have been waiting for years to have recognition of bands and to have a fair settlement, and they are still waiting."
Chiefs throughout northern Alberta and parts of Saskatchewan, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories, unanimously reaffirmed a decision last week not to recognize the Woodland Cree.
Attachment #14: re-printed without permission from THE EDMONTON SUN, Friday, July 12, 1991
BAND'S $1,000 GLITCH
Woodland Cree band members could find their $1,000 cash payment from a recent land claim deal deducted from welfare cheques.
Garry Wouters, regional director general for Indian Affairs in Edmonton, said last night the Northern Alberta band's council knew the money could be deducted.
"We use provincial regulations in determining our authority in outlining how we pay funds to Indians living on reserves," Wouters said.
But he said if the $1,000 per band member is used for home improvements members won't lose any welfare money. The reserve is 360 km northwest of Edmonton.
Wouters said it's standard for all natives on reserves to have per capita payments counted as earned income.
The more than 600-member band was promised the cash after accepting a $54- million land claim offer from the federal and provincial governments.
The band was formed in August 1989 after splitting from the Lubicon Lake Band because natives were angry about slow land claim talks.
Attachment #15: re-printed without permission from WINDSPEAKER, July 19, 1991
WOODLAND SETTLEMENT ACCEPTED; 'PITIFUL SITUATION' -- OMINAYAK
By Amy Santoro
Windspeaker Staff Writer
CADOTTE LAKE, ALTA.
A "pitiful" situation has been created by Ottawa and the Alberta government by "toying with people," says Lubicon Lake Chief Bernard Ominayak.
"Both Mulroney and the Alberta government should be ashamed of themselves," said Ominayak, following the acceptance of a land settlement by the Woodland Cree Band.
"It's kind of sad the whole thing was operated by Indian Affairs to divide and conquer the Lubicon people," he said.
The Woodland Cree voted overwhelmingly July 6 in favor of a $56-million federal government package.
The Lubicon band rejected a similar offer in 1988 leading some disgruntled members to split from the band.
Following a deadlock in negotiations with the Lubicons, Ottawa created the Woodland Cree band using section 17 of the Indian Act in 1989. About 25 per cent of the band is made up of frustrated Lubicons.
The 700-member Woodland group will receive $1,0000 each later this month. The cash was promised to them if the green light was given to the settlement offer.
Of the 309 eligible voters 264 voted in favor of the deal which gives the breakaway band a 142-km reserve at Cadotte Lake, 60 km east of Peace River, subsurface rights (but not existing discoveries), a total of $19 million from Ottawa and Alberta to be held in trust and to pay band operating costs, $28.8 million for community development and $3 million from the province for vocational training on the reserve.
The grand chief of the Assembly of First Nations is furious over Ottawa's creation of the Woodland Cree Band "to overpower and then eliminate the Lubicon Cree."
The government is using the Woodland Cree "as a Trojan horse to destroy the legitimate rights of Chief Bernard Ominayak and the Lubicon band. The newly created band will soon have nothing -- no money, no mineral rights. It will be the newest victim of Indian Affair's divide and rule policies," said Ovide Mercredi.
Lubicon advisor Fred Lennarson said Ottawa has manipulated the Woodland Cree to accept an offer which won't benefit future generations. "That's why the Lubicons rejected a similar offer.
"They have subsurface rights on land with nothing. They'll have new houses but they'll still be living on welfare. Cardinal is letting himself be used to subvert his aboriginal brothers and sisters to get something for himself," claimed Lennarson.
But Woodland Cree Chief John Cardinal is elated with the settlement. "The land is ours. We'll have running water and new homes. Our lifestyle will improve, we won't be living like they did 50 years ago anymore. We're going to benefit from this."
Cardinal said he's not bothered Treaty 8 chiefs voted June 26 not to recognize the Woodland as a legitimate band. "Recognized or not we were born here. You can get carried away if you think about it but you have to do the best you can. It's not a battle and we won't get political about it."
Following formal signing of documents this summer or fall the membership will discuss future development plans, he said.
Attachment #16: re-printed without permission from WINDSPEAKER, July 19, 1991
"The disgusting situation where the government is trying to create a new band, the Woodland Cree band, to overpower and then eliminate the Lubicon Cree is just another example of bureaucratic immorality and manipulation...Indian Affairs is attempting to use this so-called Woodland Cree band as a Trojan horse to destroy the legitimate rights of Chief Bernard Ominayak and the Lubicon Band. The newly-created band will soon have nothing -- no money and no mineral rights. It will be the newest victim of Indian Affairs' divide-and-rule policies."
National Assembly of First Nations Grand Chief Ovide Mercredi
Attachment #17: re-printed without permission from THE EDMONTON JOURNAL, Sunday, July 21, 1991
A DEAL OR A STEAL?
BATTLE OF THE BANDS
The Woodland Cree have already seen the fruits from their settlement with the federal and provincial governments, but the Lubicons, who rejected an equivalent settlement, liken the Woodland Cree agreement to a dash-for-cash with questionable long-term benefits
Journal Staff Writer
Alberta native leaders have pilloried John Cardinal and refuse to recognize his band, but the chief of the Woodland Cree just shrugs and laughs.
"Who is Treaty 8? Who is the Indian Association? What can they do?" Cardinal scoffed.
"I was born here, I'm an Indian and it doesn't matter what they say, they can't do anything to change that."
The chief of Alberta's newest band -- created, his critics say, by the federal government to skewer the neighboring Lubicons and their land-claim demands -- points instead to the benefits that have flowed to the community of 350 at Cadotte Lake during the last two years.
Since 1989 when the Woodland Cree split off from the Lubicons led by Bernard Ominayak, there has been a new fire hall and water treatment plant for the settlement 400 km north of Edmonton.
"There were so many kids who were getting sick because of untreated water," said Cardinal, who describes living conditions in the isolated community as little changed during the last 50 years.
Many of the one-room log cabins that housed the settlement, when it was moved to Cadotte Lake from Marten River 30 years ago, are still standing and some are still occupied.
Dusty gravel secondary road 686 has replaced the "rabbit trail" to Peace River, "but we still chop wood to make a fire," said Cardinal.
"There is no running water. We're living the way people lived 50 years ago. And that's quite an improvement."
The land and cash settlement with the federal and provincial governments -- accepted earlier this month by a vote of band membership -- promises to bring significant changes to the lives of the Woodland Cree during the next five years.
In addition to 142 sq. km of reserve land, the band will get $19 million from the federal and provincial governments that will be placed in a trust fund. The interest will cover the band's annual operating expenses.
There will be $3 million from Alberta for vocational training and $28.8 million for community development -- roads, houses and running water -- to be paid by Ottawa during the next five years.
"This is a unique opportunity," says Cardinal, who owns the small corner store which is the only retail outlet at Cadotte Lake.
"We're lucky that we became a band. Otherwise we would have been left in limbo with nothing."
"Life has changed here already, and it's going to improve more. I'm a status Indian today. I don't need money for dental, medical, or drugs. I can hunt anytime I want to.
"We live on a reserve, so we're tax-free here."
But after the roads and houses are built, the long term future is less certain for the community where unemployment is high and hunting and fishing provide only subsistence living.
Cardinal readily admits that the Woodland Cree have no plan for economic development beyond the kind of energy that housing and road construction will generate. But he isn't concerned.
"We're in no rush; we're looking for a consultant and now that we have the settlement we can take our time and come up with a plan in the next six months or a year."
The Woodland Cree have subsurface rights but no revenue from existing developments, oil, gas and forestry. Lubicon Chief Ominayak doubts that they will ever see a dime from resource royalties.
"The land has been searched and researched for resources, so it's highly unlikely that they will get anything from having subsurface rights," said Ominayak.
Ominayak's Lubicons have refused a settlement similar to what the Woodland Cree accepted. In January 1989, they rejected a land and cash offer of 90 sq. miles and $45 million.
"It looks like the same kind of offer they proposed to us," said Ominayak, whose decision to reject the 1989 offer led to the creation of the Woodland Cree.
The Lubicons wanted a share of the millions in resource revenue the provincial government and oil companies have been pulling out of their lands since the 1970s. They put a $170 million price tag on their settlement, including an economic development fund.
"There was no money for economic development," he said. "If our members wanted to pursue any kind of economic opportunity independent of the band, we wouldn't be able to assist in any way because of ties and restrictions on the money."
Estimates vary, but the Lubicons have lost 18 to 25 per cent of their estimated 500 membership to the Woodland Cree. They stand to lose perhaps another 10 per cent, if a band at nearby Loon Lake gains government recognition.
The loss of members will result in a lower settlement offer to the Lubicons, one that Ominayak -- disdainful of the Woodland deal -- seems likely to reject.
"We knew the federal government was really trying to beat us down and we see this as part of that," said Ominayak. "But if others get a certain benefit through our efforts then that at least is something."
For the Woodland Cree, Ominayak predicts that after the houses are built and the development money is gone, it will be unemployment and welfare as usual at Cadotte Lake, unless the newly skilled tradesmen can find work away from the reserve.
"The money will disappear awful fast -- then they are back to Square 1," he said.
Unemployment is high at Cadotte Lake and throughout the isolated settlements along secondary highway 686 between Peace River and Red Earth. Fur prices are deeply depressed. Hunting and fishing provide only subsistence living and most of the jobs -- clearing rights-of-way -- call for unskilled laborers.
"Education is the biggest problem," said Cardinal, who went only as far in school as Garde 4 and has trouble reading and writing. "I can sign my name, but when I read, I have to go over some things I don't know how many times to try and understand it."
Other people in the community "are about where I am," he said.
Education in the school built in the last decade at Cadotte Lake stops at Grade 10, "but could go to Grade 12," said Cardinal, who understands it also holds the key for band members who want to become tradesmen.
The provincial government is providing $3 million for vocational training in Cadotte Lake "so we're hoping that some of our people can learn to be carpenters, electricians, or plumbers."
The $28.8 million in infrastructure development money will provide training and jobs for five years "and after that they can get employment elsewhere," he said.
Deedee Williams, an apprentice carpenter in Cadotte Lake, figures the house construction work that comes with the settlement will allow him to get his journeyman's papers.
"There'll be work here for a couple of years at least," said Williams, who hopes his household will be among the 120 that will get one of the new houses to be financed by the agreement.
The band office in Cadotte Lake bustles with activity. There are 15 jobs, and records are being placed on a computer system, as the band gets ready for a flow of money from the settlement.
There are already a half-dozen jobs at a construction site where the band is building an equipment maintenance shed, and more jobs where a road is being built into Marten Lake.
A hand-lettered sign tacked to the office wall proclaims the band's vision:
"We the Woodland Cree band will develop and maintain a self-supporting community for our children which respects the individual, all people, the environment and other communities."
Rhoda Lamouche, the band's transportation clerk, is proud of the band.
"We've gone from nothing to something," she said, but acknowledged the strained relations with Lubicons who live just 20 km away.
"There's more hostility there than there is from here," she said.
At Little Buffalo, a lone woman answers the phone in the Lubicon's darkened band office.
"Some people here are quite despondent," says John Goddard, a Montreal writer whose book on the Lubicon will be published this fall by Douglas and McIntyre.
Despite the setback that the Woodland settlement represents, Ominayak is as determined as ever.
"We're not giving up," he said.
Attachment #18: re-printed without permission from ALBERTA NATIVE NEWS, July, 1991
WOODLAND CREE VOTE YES TO $56M
By Deborah Shatz
Nearly two years after their creation, the Woodland Cree have voted to accept a land claim package from the federal government. A referendum was held over two days, with polling stations in four locations and the response was overwhelming. After all the ballots were counted a resounding 98.5 percent of the members who voted had approved the $56 million agreement. Voter turnout was also very high with 86.7 percent or 268 band members voting.
Under the terms of the agreement the Woodland Cree will receive $28.8 million to be used over the next 5 years to develop their community with such things as houses, roads and running water. An additional $19 million will be held in trust from the federal and provincial governments to pay for the band's operating expenses. A reserve of 143 square km is also provided at Cadotte Lake, located 60 kms east of Peace River. The Woodland are given subsurface rights to the land but not to existing discoveries. The band has sold 41 square kms back to the government so their agreement included the price of the land, $512,000. The deal also includes $3 million from the Alberta government to be used for on-reserve vocational training.
Although the Woodland Cree members are pleased with their land claim package, the package and their electoral process have come under fire.
Band Council paid $50 "travel expenses" to each member who voted and band members were promised $1000 if the referendum was accepted.
The band itself continues to be ostracized from other Aboriginal groups and organizations having been denied recognition from both the Grand Council of Treaty 8 and the Indian Association of Alberta.
The Woodland Cree Band was created by the federal government using the controversial Section 17 of the Indian Act which permits them to act unilaterally. The band includes some former members of the Lubicon lake First Nation, who were dissatisfied with the breakdown of their land claim negotiation. Many believe that the federal government created the Woodland Cree in an effort to "divide and conquer" the Lubicon, discredit them and diminish their bargaining power.
The Grand Council of Treaty 8 First Nations recently reaffirmed their decision not to recognize the Woodland Cree. Richard Davis, Vice President of Treaty 8 explained that "it was felt that if the Grand Council recognized the Woodland Cree then it would be as if they are condoning Section 17 of the Indian Act." He indicated that the Council felt strongly that bands should not be created because it suits the "agenda of the federal government" but rather with "consensus of the parent band, chief and band council."
He said that the Grand Council "cannot afford to be used as a tool of the federal government...let the people involved internally sort out their own problems."
John Cardinal, Chief of the Woodland Cree, issued the following statement:
The Woodland Cree Band includes treaty land entitlees who want to get on with their lives and to them a land claim settlement in their lifetime means hope for the future of their children. As a group which includes people with unfulfilled treaty rights Section 17 of the Indian Act has been a welcome provision. A provision which they have utilized to help them negotiate what they feel is a just settlement.
The Woodland Cree Band feels that if they have paved the way for other groups with unfulfilled treaty rights to become recognized bands as per Section 17 of the Indian Act, not to be recognized by the Grand Council of Treaty 8 Nations is small sacrifice. However they sincerely hope that any further use of Section 17 is done co- operatively with both the federal government and the parent band involved with consideration of the rights and interests of the existing band.
Attachment #19: re-printed without permission from ALBERTA NATIVE NEWS, July, 1991
LENNARSON CRITICIZES WOODLAND CREE AGREEMENT
By Brian Savage and Deborah Shatz
Fred Lennarson, a spokesperson for the Lubicon band, characterizes the turnout for the vote by the Woodland Cree which approved a land settlement agreement with the federal government as a "bought election, pure and simple."
"They were given $50 if they voted and $1000 if they voted the right way, that's one way of getting a good turnout and the results you seek to achieve."
The financial inducements to vote were highly unusual when compared to other Indian band elections, says Lennarson.
"This is a Section 17 (of the Indian Act) created society. They're not fooling anyone with this, everyone knows this is something created out of wholecloth."
Woodland Cree Chief John Cardinal maintains however that his council was not buying the election when it provided $50 to each member who voted in their recent land claim referendum. He explained to the media that the money was given as travel compensation or to help out if a person had to miss some work in order to vote.
"It may look like we're buying votes," Chief Cardinal told the Canadian Press "but that was not our intention...They could have come and voted 'no' and we'd still have paid them. We had no way of knowing what they voted."
Cardinal also dispelled the notion that they bought votes by promising $1000 to each band member provided the referendum was passed. According to the chief, the money simply reflects each member's share of the settlement deal.
The Chief Electoral Officer, Roger Cardinal who is an official with the Department of Indian Affairs, is quoted as saying that "a lot of people came from out of town and they got their gas money...The band took great pains to ensure a person's right to a free vote was protected."
According to Lennarson, fallout of this agreement will be how Aboriginal people will look at the federal government and its dealings with Native people.
"What this does is make you look real close at anything that does look good. These are not honourable men we're dealing with and I don't believe them until or unless we have it locked in tight and in the bank."
As examples of the government's questionable dealing with Natives Lennarson cites the breakdown of the land settlement with the Aboriginal groups in the NWT where separate groups are now negotiating with the government, and the James Bay Cree, where the federal government was found to be in default but "the government ignores the arbitration."
"You shouldn't assume the problem is solved," remarks the Lubicon advisor, "just because they say something half-decent once in a while."
After looking at the agreement the Woodland Cree have signed, Lennarson, who says he had two lawyers go over the document, has many reservations about the possible precedents it may have set.
"The agreement actually provides that if the land has some sub-surface resources, they (the Cree) don't have any sub-surface rights, but for land that doesn't have sub-surface resources the rights have been transferred."
According to Lennarson the Woodland Cree get "up to $35 million to build a community, the same take it or leave it offer the Lubicon got.
"It doesn't say, we're giving you $400,000 to build a health unit, it says 'we have information that Health and Welfare may have money to do this and we suggest that you go talk to Health and Welfare' -- the document is full of ifs, ands and buts."
A breakdown of the money the Woodland Cree claim to receive is revealing, explains Lennarson.
"They're given $19 million for what's called socio-economic development in two funds, one's called capital funds in the amount of $15 million, the other is revenue funds at $4 million."
The latter fund has provisions for per capita distribution per year up to 25 percent. If you take the figure of 500 people at the maximum of 25 percent each Cree would receive $2000 per year and the fund would be depleted within four years.
"Two thousand dollars is not going to solve all your problems," says Lennarson.
Lennarson says the document is not clear on the breakdown of the other fund. It would appear $10 million goes into a bank account and the other $5 million will be doled out over a five year period with interest being ploughed back into the capital fund, probably at around four percent, something similar to the Heritage Trust fund.
"Of the capital fund," says Lennarson, "they can spend up to a third of it per year on economic development. That leaves about $7 million and it's no longer earning the interest it was, and it's down to just over $3 million the year after that if they do the same.
"Do you want to take on the responsibility of building an economy for $3 million a year over a three year period and support a population on $2000 a year per capita distribution? Because that's what they got," claims Lennarson.
Asked about the legal representation the Woodland Cree received, Lennarson is scornful.
"The lawyer was selected, hired and paid by the Federal government. The Woodland Cree were flown to Edmonton in a chartered plane and introduced to their lawyer named Bob Young, from Calgary, in the offices of Indian Affairs.
"It's really nice when you get a lawyer working for both sides of the table, then you don't get any disagreements."
It is scenarios like this that make Lennarson upset.
"From my point of view they (the government) don't have any credibility at all. What the chief of the Woodland Cree is saying is that 'others can criticize us but we've got more than we had before'. The problem is they're setting one hell of a precedent for the rest of the Aboriginal people trying to negotiate land rights, and that's what the government wants -- to undermine Aboriginal groups."
Chief Bernard Ominayak's reaction was one of sadness, according to Lennarson, "that Aboriginal people can be used like this."
Lennarson believes that this agreement "will now be used in negotiations by the government against the Lubicon's own land claims," something that Lennarson finds offensive.
"They're setting up a precedent for Aboriginal people across the country that Aboriginal land rights are worth no more than a house on a lake and a life on welfare, and you have to understand if Aboriginal societies don't protest this, the government can use section 17 to take apart any band in the country."
People must make it known to the government that their actions are unacceptable, says Lennarson, if they want any changes to be made.