Letters to the Editors of Alberta Newspapers

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

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

September 28, 1991

Enclosed for your information are copies of letters to the editors of Alberta newspapers regarding the anticipated confrontation between Daishowa and the Lubicons.

Attachment #1: Letter to the Editor of THE EDMONTON JOURNAL, Tuesday, September 17, 1991, from Julie A. Welter, Member of the board, Luxembourg branch, Society for Threatened Peoples

The situation of the Lubicon Cree in northern Alberta has been continuously deteriorating during the last 20 years as a result of so-called development activities through national and multinational corporations encouraged by the Alberta government.

While these promoters make enormous profits on unceded aboriginal territory, the rightful owners of the land lose their sources of livelihood, their health and heritage, and their sense of identity, cohesion and self-esteem.

It is impossible for a well-informed neutral observer not to notice that the Alberta government clearly has no intention to recognize and respect any land rights of the Lubicon Cree, but has been using a legal strategy to wipe these people out as a community, and thus, legally, to strip them of their rights.

The Japanese paper giant, Daishowa, plans to clear-cut a huge area on Lubicon territory. Should it go ahead, this would amount to the final blow to the Lubicon Cree.

We must not let this happen, and our society wants to let the Canadian public know that there are people in Luxembourg who are deeply concerned about the Lubicon Crees' situation and prepared to do anything in their power to prevent Daishowa from moving into Lubicon territory.

Attachment #2: The Edmonton Sun, Tuesday, September 24, 1991


A Denmark-based native rights group has added its voice to the lobby trying to stop Daishowa Canada from clear-cutting forest in disputed Lubicon territory.

The International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs has written Daishowa Canada, which operates a pulp mill at Peace River, asking it to steer clear of Lubicon land, about 350 km northwest of Edmonton.

"A jurisdictional dispute is going on between the government of Canada and the Lubicon Indian Nation concerning territorial rights of the Lubicon Cree," wrote Karin Sonne-Jensen of the indigenous-affairs group.

"We will have to remind you that according to aboriginal rights, the territory belongs to the Lubicon Cree until an appropriate solution has been found.

"Therefore we strongly recommend you stay out of the area," the letter concluded.

Lubicon chief Bernard Ominayak has already threatened "potentially violent confrontation" if the firm proceeds with its logging plans.

Daishowa's Canadian general manager Tom Hamaoka, wasn't available for comment yesterday.

Attachment #3: Letter to the Editor of The Edmonton Journal, Friday, September 27, 1991, from Hinton, Alberta, resident Tom Morley

Thank you for JOURNAL editorials and other coverage concerning the Lubicon band and the difficulties it has experienced over so many years.

Likewise, I take great comfort from the letter of Prof. Peter Schwarzbauer of the Forestry Institute, Vienna (Lubicon case betrays PM on human rights, Sept. 7). As an expert, his observations are deeply appreciated.

I agree with him that all commercial dealings with respect to these lands should be discontinued until clarity is reached regarding title.

All religious traditions agree that a person is never free to perform an action which the person does not know to be right or wrong. To do so would mean that he has agreed to act even if his action is evil.

Regarding Lubicon lands from the viewpoint of our legal structure, everyone agrees that title to the land is disputed and has never been adjudicated by any court of Canada. Thus, doesn't it follow that no cutting rights to this land, no revenues from its rich reserves of oil and gas, should be allowed until it is determined to whom it belongs? Failing this, are not our governments negotiating lumber, oil and gas contracts worth millions, without being in good conscience?

I do not see how our governments can be in good faith. For over 50 years the Lubicons have wanted an agreement. But governments do quite well without an agreement. Because they have the power and the force of law behind them, they are free to operate in a moral vacuum and take huge profits at the same time. Meanwhile, the Lubicons are left penniless and their land, as they see it, is left to the prey of a ruthless exploitation.

Surely it would seem to any fair-minded observer that justice in this case, as in so many others involving our aboriginal peoples, is being gravely violated. Nevertheless, whenever the Lubicons, in their understandable anger and frustration, block a road, for example, in the middle of land they have always claimed, they are met by the full force of the law. But what law is being enforced? Is it law that is based on equity and truth?

Fifty years is a long time for Chief Bernard Ominayak and his people to be kept waiting. Ominayak is small, but spiritually and morally he stands tall in the minds and hearts of many Albertans. When one observes that what is being done to him and his people would never be tolerated being done to the rich and the powerful of this province, the disconcerting possibility that the whole affair is replete with the odium of racism and oppression must be entertained.

If the Lubicons are not being treated fairly, and on our part if we believe in the essential solidarity of the human race, then not only are the Lubicons being gravely offended, the humanness of all Albertans is being compromised.

One way -- and in moral terms the only way -- that our governments can show they are acting in good faith with respect to the Lubicons (and thus toward us all) is to place a moratorium on the multimillion-dollar profit-taking from these lands until a just agreement is reached. By so doing, our governments would be placing themselves under law as perceived by all people who struggle to be of goodwill and good conscience, and thereby dispel the appearance that our law is being adulterated by greed and the abuse of power.

Attachment #4: Letter to the Editor of THE WINDSPEAKER, September 27, 1991, from Stephen Corry, Director General, Survival International, London, England


Editor's Note:

A copy of this letter, which was sent to Tom Hamaoka, vice-president of Daishowa Canada Company Ltd. in Vancouver, was also sent to the Windspeaker.

Dear Mr. Hamaoka:

Survival International is concerned about Daishowa's forest management operations on Lubicon land in Alberta.

As you are aware, the Lubicon people have been waiting many years for a just settlement of their land claim. In the absence of a legal settlement traditional Lubicon territory remains unceded to the Canadian Government or the province of Alberta.

By accepting timber rights offered to it by the government of Alberta on land which still belongs to the Lubicon Indians and then by proceeding with timber harvesting on that land -- albeit through subcontractors -- the Daishowa Corporation has become a party to the dispute between the Lubicon people and the Alberta and Canadian governments.

If Daishowa, whether directly or through subcontractors, proceeds with planned clear-cut logging operations on traditional Lubicon lands this fall, irreparable damage will be done to the remains of the traditional Lubicon economy.

We therefore urge you to ensure the Daishowa Corporation complies not merely with Canadian but also with international law and refrains from all operations in Lubicon territory until a just and final settlement has been agreed to between the Lubicon Lake Indian Nation and the federal and provincial governments.

Attachment #5: Letter to the Editor of THE WINDSPEAKER, September 27, 1991, from Oliver Kluge, Member of Big Mountain, Munich, Germany


Dear Editor:

The Lubicon Lake Indian Nation faces a deadly threat from the huge Japanese pulp and paper manufacturer Daishowa.

The ever worsening situation of the Lubicon Crees has been monitored with very great concern by many European support organizations for years. The Lubicons have been struggling for 50 years to get a reserve from the Canadian government. The process showed gross miscarriage by both levels of government and by the Canadian judicial system.

In the 1970s oil exploration was undertaken on untouched lands. Exploratory drilling and detonations chased away the Lubicons' game which irrevocably destroyed their lifestyle and constituted a crushing blow to the Lubicon society. The lethal blow could be the selling of leases by the Alberta government to Daishowa, permitting clear-cut logging of an area of almost 30,000 square kilometres. That area entirely blankets the Lubicon traditional lands. Lands, over which the government has no jurisdiction because neither Alberta nor Canada have acquired legal ownership in any historically recognized way. Canada is under UNO observation for its continuing violation of human rights.

Daishowa has constructed a huge pulp mill in Peace River, which uses sulfate pulp generation and a chlorine-based bleach process. The sulfate process is so environmentally dangerous it is outlawed in most of Europe and even in Daishowa's home country, Japan. The chlorine-based bleach is about to have the same fate as the sulfate process.

This pulp mill was heavily subsidized by the Canadian government and the wood supply was also heavily subsidized. One can only imagine how many jobs could be created if all these subsidies were invested directly into Canadian companies instead of being swallowed by a huge multinational.

Daishowa pays so-called stumpage fees of 28 cents a cubic metre for hardwood and $2 a cubic metre for softwood. At these rates a stand of 16 aspen trees (16 metres tall) is worth about $1.40 to the province. Converted to bleached kraft pulp by Daishowa its worth rises to $950 and refined to paper (by Daishowa of course) its worth reaches up to $2,000. This incredible discrepancy is also the only reason imaginable why Daishowa is able to transport its pulp and paper literally halfway round the globe to Europe and still beat Scandinavian prices! European stumpage fees for comparable wood are 80 times higher.

Daishowa bought or contracted nearly every single small logging enterprise in the vicinity of Peace River. Daishowa is using these companies for a dual tactic. Firstly they are prepared to go into small fractions of the land to do fast logging, and to immediately pull out. Secondly, they are used to circumvent an agreement which Daishowa Canada made with the Lubicons to avoid unceded Lubicon territory at least until a settlement is reached. Daishowa now claims either this agreement does not bind the subcontractors or that the whole agreement does not exist. Surely a strange expression of Japanese honor.

Now, Daishowa threatens the Lubicons to start large scale clear-cut logging this year. For the Lubicons this means extinction. We, the European support groups who have been watching the Lubicons' struggle for so many years, have decided it is of no use to try to persuade Daishowa to do anything.

We know who Daishowa's customers are. But it is not true European Indian support organizations are trying to disrupt the Canadian economy. When we are calling on Daishowa's customers to boycott paper, the production of which means a violation of human rights, we are not doing this to kill a job, but to save a life. And we are serious about it.

Of course, the argument we hear now is "we are afraid of losing our jobs." Although this may seem tragic, for the Lubicons the alternative is to lose their lives. You may decide yourself which one weighs heavier.

(Editor's Note: Kluge enclosed a document with his letter, which indicated a unanimous resolution was passed in Germany at the 7th European Meeting of North American Indian Support Groups in July demanding Daishowa stay out of traditional Lubicon territory until the band's land claim was resolved. The support groups represented Aboriginal nations and organizations from Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.)