Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
Little Buffalo Lake, AB
3536 - 106 Street
Edmonton, AB T6J 1A4
November 22, 1991
Enclosed for your information are copies of a newspaper article and a supposed book review revealing a particularly sad but unmistakable facet of the Government's new anti-Lubicon propaganda campaign. Government officials are now using their motley menagerie of "good Indians" to reinforce and support the carefully crafted anti-Lubicon propaganda line which Federal Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon has been variously pursuing since at least the end of October in a letter to Member of Parliament Jim Fulton.
This new anti-Lubicon propaganda campaign has likely been inspired by the increasingly effective effort to block Daishowa from clear-cutting Lubicon trees prior to a settlement of Lubicon land rights and negotiation of an agreement with the Lubicon people regarding Lubicon wildlife and environmental concerns. While a new anti-Lubicon propaganda campaign isn't exactly sincere negotiations it's still better than where things were earlier this fall when representatives of the Federal Government were simply advising Daishowa to be patient -- that the so-called "Lubicon problem" would soon "blow over" with the complete collapse of the Lubicon society. Government officials are at least now feeling some pressure to respond to the Lubicon situation if not yet in an appropriate and honourable way. Responding in an appropriate way won't likely even occur to representatives of either level of Canadian Government if they think they have any choice.
The effort to block Daishowa from clear-cutting Lubicon trees should therefore be pressed aggressively until Daishowa makes a firm, clear and unequivocal public commitment to stay out of the unceded Lubicon territory prior to a settlement of Lubicon land rights and negotiation of an agreement with the Lubicon people regarding Lubicon wildlife and environmental concerns. Previous experience with Daishowa has conclusively demonstrated that less than a firm, clear and unequivocal public commitment will be ignored by Daishowa as soon as the pressure is off. Once Daishowa makes such a firm, clear and unequivocal public commitment, the oil company with the largest number of operating wells in the unceded Lubicon territory should be targeted for similar attention.
The attached article pertains to a speech made to the Edmonton Rotary Club by an Indian politician with well known ties to the ruling Progressive Conservative Party named Roy Louis. Mr. Louis echoed recent remarks by Federal Indian Affairs Minister Siddon by describing the so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer to the Lubicons as "fair and just" and by warning the Lubicons that they're "going to be left in the dark unless they (accept the Federal Government's so-called take-it-or-leave-it offer)".
Mr. Louis is described in the article as "a former Chief of the Samson Band at Hobbema". He is not. Mr. Louis is rather President of the Wetaskiwin Progressive Conservative Riding Association and a Director from Alberta of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.
The recently re-elected Chief of the Samson Band is Victor Buffalo. Chief Buffalo is in fact a long time supporter of the Lubicon cause who agrees with Chief Ominayak that the so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer is completely unjust, unfair and would forever condemn the Lubicon people to a life on welfare.
The attached book review purports to review the new Goddard book on the Lubicons but is in fact less of a review of the Goddard book than a litany of the reviewer's quirky notions about the Lubicon situation. It quotes unnamed "Chiefs of the Grand Council of Treaty 8" as "privately...(pointing)...to a string of other recent claims settlements in the Treaty 8 area and (suggesting) that (Lubicon Chief) Ominayak has overplayed his hand". It quotes these unnamed Chiefs as saying that "Ominayak has created hardship for his people...and (that) they are (supposedly) voting with their feet (by joining the newly created Woodland Cree Band and still being created Loon Lake Band)". It quotes these unnamed Chiefs as saying that Chief Ominayak "will be a Chief without followers...if he does not settle soon".
If the words attributed to these unnamed Treaty 8 Chiefs sound familiar it's because they're singing the clearly choreographed lyrics of Federal Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon's song -- on cue. In fact without a program identifying who's who -- and this is of course one of the big problems with quoting such unnamed sources -- it's impossible to tell the difference between these unnamed Treaty 8 Chiefs and the Federal Indian Affairs Minister.
It's unlikely, however, that these unnamed Treaty 8 Chiefs consist of more than the same small group who earlier this year tried unsuccessfully to orchestrate Grand Council recognition of the Woodland Cree Band. At that time this small group precipitated such a strong negative reaction from the majority of Treaty 8 Chiefs that they themselves ended up voting against recognition of the Woodland Cree rather than risk being publicly isolated and labelled -- accurately -- as Government stooges.
Attachment #1: THE EDMONTON JOURNAL, Friday, November 22, 1991
LUBICON OFFER WAS FAIR -- FORMER SAMSON CHIEF
But Cree adviser calls Roy Louis a Tory Propagandist
Stories by Jack Danylchuk
Journal Staff Writer
The Lubicon Lake Cree got a "fair and just" offer from the federal government, says a former chief of the Samson band at Hobbema.
"They are going to be left in the dark unless they settle," Roy Louis said in a speech to the Edmonton Rotary Club.
Fred Lennarson, adviser to Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak, said, "Louis's connection with the Tory party is well known. He is a director of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.
"That is the hat he is wearing. He is just mouthing propaganda. I don't think he even knows what's in the government's take-it-or-leave-it offer," said Lennarson.
Ominayak agreed to a 246-square-km land offer in 1988, but rejected ottawa's $45-million cash settlement. The Lubicon chief recently met Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon in an effort to resume negotiations.
But neither side has changed its position. Ominayak still wants $170 million. Siddon suggested that because some Lubicons have defected to the Woodland Cree, the federal offer might be less than $45 million.
Louis was also critical of a recent statement by Regena Crowchild. The president of the Indian Association of Alberta said she did not consider herself to be a Canadian when she appeared before the Legislature's committee on constitutional reform.
"I have always considered myself a strong treaty Indian, a strong Albertan and a strong Canadian," he said.
"Indians are saying that we want to be part of the whole. We are the true Canadians. This is our ancestral land."
Louis said Indians are seeking self-government, "to control their own destiny," after years of being ruled by the Indian Act, which he called a document of apartheid.
Attachment #2: THE EDMONTON JOURNAL, Sunday, November 10, 1991
BOOK ARGUES FOR SWIFT AND FAIR LUBICON SETTLEMENT
LAST STAND OF THE LUBICON CREE
By John Goddard
Douglas & McIntyre
228 pp., $26.95
The title of John Goddard's book is prophetic.
After a lifetime of wrestling for a fair settlement, Lubicon chief bernard Ominayak seems to be running out of time and support from where he needs it most -- his own people.
Since January 1989 when Ominayak rejected Ottawa's take-it-or-leave-it offer, Lubicons have been slipping quietly away -- to the Woodland Cree last summer and soon to another band seeking recognition at nearby Loon Lake.
Ominayak and his wife Louise have separated; she has taken their children to live at Cadotte Lake, centre for the newly formed Woodland Cree Band.
Publicly, the chiefs of the Grand Council of Treaty 8 pledge their support to the Lubicons. But privately, they point to a string of other recent claims settlements in the Treaty 8 area and suggest that Ominayak has overplayed his hand. He has created hardship for his people, the chiefs say, and they are voting with their feet. If he does not settle soon with Ottawa, he will be a chief without followers.
It is on that gloomy note that Goddard, a former wire service reporter, ends his thorough examination of the Lubicons' history. LAST STAND OF THE LUBICON CREE is told from the band's point of view. But given the facts, who could think that perspective is unfair?
Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon, for one. He is convinced that the government's offer is fair and that the real opposition comes not from Ominayak, but from Fred Lennarson, an adept and abrasive student from the Saul Alinsky school of social activism.
Goddard devotes a chapter to Lennarson, who has made a career in Canada of advising Indians -- among them Harold Cardinal and Ominayak -- on how to twist the federal government's tail.
Alinsky was a master tactician. There is a story, possibly apocryphal, of how Alinsky won the day for city of Chicago maintenance workers. To demonstrate to disbelieving politicians just how essential and powerful his clients were, Alinsky had them create lineups at every public toilet at Chicago's main airport.
Lennarson was an adept student. While Ominayak has been a study in quiet determination, Lennarson has turned the Lubicons' plight into an international story -- to the embarrassment of the Canadian government and the annoyance of industrial giants like Daishowa.
Even before Ottawa unveiled its take-it-or-leave-it offer in 1989, government hacks were massaging every available media contact with the story that the Lubicons' ordeal would be over -- if only Lennarson would go away.
The Lubicons are Lennarson's only meal ticket, is the story Siddon and his hacks still circulate. With Lennarson gone, the government's offer would be snapped up. Siddon, one of the dullest men in Canadian political life, remains convinced of that.
Just before Siddon met last week for the first time with Ominayak, he told THE JOURNAL'S editorial board that with their advisers and of the way he and the chief would have a much better chance of reaching an agreement.
Goddard is the first writer to lay out the Lubicons' history, and after reading LAST STAND OF THE LUBICON CREE, it would be difficult for most to honestly deny the legitimacy of their claim to much more than Ottawa offered in 1989.
Had it not been for the meddlesome intervention of a federal public servant, the Lubicons would have had a reserve long ago. It would have included enough oil, gas and timber to make the band one of the wealthiest in Canada.
The Lubicons' last demand was for $170 million and the government's last offer was $45 million.
Last summer, the Woodland Cree, the band Ottawa built, got $47.5 million. The Loon Lake people are in line for $30 million. Even if the two new bands siphon off 30 per cent of the Lubicon membership, a settlement with Ominayak will cost at least $35 million.
The final land component for the three bands will likely be twice the 246 sq km the province offered the Lubicons in 1989. Had the federal government been at all willing to negotiate, it probably could have struck a deal three years ago that would have been no more expensive and certainly much less mean-spirited.
Goddard makes a strong case for a swift and fair settlement with the Lubicons. After finally setting down the book, a reader is left to wonder just what it is about this small band of Cree that brings out the very worst in federal bureaucrats and politicians.