Statement by Grand Chief Ovide Mercredi on Lubicon Struggle

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

November 14, 1991

Attached for your information is a copy of a newspaper article on a recent statement of support for the Lubicon people by Ovide Mercredi, Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

Windspeaker, November 8, 1991


By Jeff Morrow

Windspeaker Contributor


Canada's top Native leader has stepped up support of the Lubicon Lake Indian Band despite assurances by the federal and provincial governments to reconcile the half-century-old land claim dispute.

And he wants the public to renew their oath of support.

Assembly of First Nations Grand chief Ovide Mercredi says Daishowa Canada's 40,000 sq. km forestry agreement near Peace River also threatens the band's chances for a territorial claim.

He has issued a plea for "fair-minded Canadians" to mass a non- violent protest to stop clear-cut logging of the 10,000 sq. km tract of land claimed by the band until agreement is concluded.

"The Lubicon people have told me they will do whatever is necessary to prevent this destruction. As national chief I support their firm stand," he says. "The Lubicon Lake First Nation need the support of all Canadians."

Mercredi says the forestry agreement includes land inhabited and used by the Lubicons for hunting.

Last month federal Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon announced he will consider resuming negotiations with Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak in an effort to end a three-year-old deadlock over a $45 million compensation deal for the band.

And earlier this month, Alberta Solicitor General Dick Fowler said the provincial government is standing by the 1988 Grimshaw Agreement which offers the Lubicon band a large tract of disputed land, pending federal approval.

Both levels of government have made efforts to undermine the beleaguered northern Alberta band by splitting their ranks and selling off parcels of their disputed land, Mercredi charges.

"I wonder what the Lubicons have done to receive such treatment," he says. "The Lubicons themselves are convinced clear cutting will be a death blow to their First Nation."

In a press release issued from his Ottawa office Mercredi urged Canadians to step up their support to protect the Lubicons from extinction.

"I hesitate to use words like 'attempted genocide' but I do ask fair-minded people to consider what the governments of Canada and Alberta have done to this embattled First Nation," Mercredi said.

Lubicon negotiator Fred Lennarson said the government's commitments to end its dispute with the band are not to be taken seriously. And Mercredi's declarations attest to it.

The public shouldn't be taken in either, Lennarson said, claiming that the band is not prepared to put their protests on ice while Siddon makes up his mind to resume talks.

"The issue is still hot as the Son of a Gun," he said. "We've put a lot of pressure on them (government) and they're starting to move a little bit. But we haven't made any progress yet."

Lennarson said Daishowa could get itchy fingers too: "If they decide to go in (to log in Lubicon territory), we're right back at it -- but we're not about to let Daishowa off the hook," Lennarson said.

Lennarson insisted that the Lubicon Indians have not reduced their demands despite the creation two years ago of the Woodland Cree settlement at Cadotte Lake. The Woodland Cree, he says, are part of a government ploy to cut down the number of Lubicon Indians and minimize their rights.