Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
Little Buffalo Lake, AB
3536 - 106 Street
Edmonton, AB T6J 1A4
December 05, 1991
On December 2nd Chief Ominayak received a faxed letter from Federal Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon. Within minutes of receiving the Minister's faxed letter the Chief started receiving inquiries about the letter from reporters who'd obviously received copies of the Minister's letter at the same time as the Chief.
Reporters receiving a faxed copy of the Minister's letter to the Chief also received from the Minister's office a couple of page document entitled "STATUS OF LUBICON LAKE CLAIM". As is usually the case with documents provided by the Canadian Government purporting to provide information on the Lubicon situation, the document entitled "STATUS OF LUBICON LAKE CLAIM" is replete with deliberate and purposeful inaccuracies, distortions, misrepresentations and outright lies.
The Siddon document says, for example, "In 1933 the heads of fourteen families living near Lubicon Lake petitioned the federal government...(and stated)...that they were treaty Indians and mostly members of the Whitefish Lake Band, which had received a reserve in 1908". "However", it says, "the families said they lived apart from the Whitefish Lake Band and that they wanted a reserve of their own at Lubicon Lake".
In fact the 1933 petition is from fourteen Lubicon families whose names had been wrongfully added to the Whitefish Lake Band membership list and who were seeking reserve lands in the traditional Lubicon territory. Their petition was essentially ignored until 1939 when the first Canadian Government party to ever visit the unceded Lubicon territory investigated their claims.
There are two official government reports of that 1939 visit, one by the local Indian Agent and the other by the Inspector of Indian Agencies for the Alberta Region.
The 1939 official report by the Indian Agent reads, in part:
"LUBICON LAKE: called locally Prairie Lake, lies about 26 miles N.W. of Whitefish Lake and is the site of an Indian camp inhabited the year round by some 126 Indians who belong for the majority to the Cree Band at Whitefish Lake; they disclaim this, however, and say that they have no connection with that Band...As it was the first time that a treaty party was afforded the opportunity to visit these Indians in their home district particular pain was taken to scrutinize their claim. It was well noticeable from the outset that these Indians are far different from those at Whitefish Lake...Their leader, Alexis Laboucan, #81, made a short speech well to the point and concisely stated their claim: their Band as a unit has existed forever as far as they can remember, their residence at Lubicon Lake that began well before treaty was ever mentioned; commented on their ability to hunt following the game where it goes but stating their willingness to learn agriculture for the time soon to come when fur will be too scarce for them to make a living at hunting."
The 1939 official report by the Inspector of Indian Agencies for the Alberta Region reads, in part:
"While considered by the Agent as members of the Whitefish Lake Band, these Indians...emphatically stated, through their leaders Alexis Laboucan and Louis Laboucan, Senior, that they had nothing to do with, and that they had nothing in common with the Whitefish Lake Band; that they were a separate Band and always had been..."
Next the Siddon document says "In 1939 the government agreed to recognize (the fourteen families) as a band and to provide a 25.4 square mile reserve for their population of 127 people, in accordance with the provisions of Treaty 8".
In fact, consistent with regular Government practice in dealing with people of the boreal forest -- as distinct from dealing with the large communal aboriginal societies of the prairies where the majority of the people normally lived together in one large camp -- Government officials knew that the group of 127 Lubicons whom they met in 1939 were only part of a larger aboriginal society spread out over the large traditional Lubicon territory. What Government officials typically did when dealing with people of the boreal forest was make provision for those they met and then later make supplementary provision for additional people as these additional people -- so-called "absentees" -- came in from the bush and were included on the membership list. Under these circumstances it was not unusual for one northern aboriginal society to have two or three reserve land surveys as more and more members of the society came in from the bush and were counted for purposes of calculating reserve land size. Records of the Dominion Land Surveyor make clear that Government officials anticipated Lubicon "absentees" to come in from the bush and be added to the Lubicon membership list, increasing the amount of land which the Lubicon people would be entitled to retain for reserve purposes.
Next the Siddon document says "The Second World War intervened and, in the years following (supposedly to 1980), the claim was not pursued". This statement isn't true. What really happened between 1939 and 1980 is a well documented series of scandalous efforts by both levels of Canadian Government to deprive the Lubicons of their unextinguished aboriginal land rights. In the 1940s there were the infamous McCrimmon removals which two independent inquiries found to be completely improper but which basically still stood. During the 1950s and 60s there were the equally disgraceful efforts by Federal officials to wipe out official recognition of the Lubicon Lake Indians as a distinct aboriginal society with land rights through such techniques as enfranchisement by fraud and transferring the names of Lubicon Indians to the membership lists of other Bands -- often without their knowledge or permission. And in the 1970s there was the passing of retroactive legislation by the Alberta Provincial Government taking away rights which the Lubicon people supposedly enjoyed under Canadian law while those rights were actually being argued before the Canadian Courts. (For a more detailed review of developments during this period see John Goddard's book "Last Stand of the Lubicon Cree".)
"During this (1939 to 1980) period", the Siddon document says, "the Band was treated like all other Bands". "It received", the document says, "government support for housing, band salaries and administration, education and social assistance". These statements are lies.
Until the early 1980s the Lubicon people were in fact specifically denied programs and services long generally available to other Indians in Canada - - status and non status alike -- on the basis that they had no recognized reserve lands. During the 1950s and 60s, as part of the Government's deliberate effort to wipe out official recognition of the Lubicon Indians as a distinct aboriginal society with land rights, some individual Lubicons were encouraged to allow their names to be transferred to the membership lists of other Bands in order to receive minimal social welfare benefits and educational assistance for their children. However the Lubicon Nation didn't receive Federal support for "band salaries and administration" until the mid-70s; they received only nominal support in these areas until 1981- 82; they received no Federal housing assistance until 1980-81 and they didn't receive other normally provided program monies until 1981-82.
Next the Siddon document says "In 1980 the Lubicon Lake Band filed a statement of claim in the Federal Court of Canada against Canada, Alberta and various oil companies". It says that the Lubicon action claimed that the Lubicon people "had aboriginal title". "Failing that", the document says, the Lubicon people claimed that "they were within the Treaty 8 area and were entitled to a settlement based upon its benefits". And "failing that", the document says, the Lubicons claimed that "they were promised a reserve which they had yet to receive". This characterization of the Lubicons' 1980 legal action distorts and misrepresents the nature of the Lubicons' 1980 legal action.
In fact the Lubicons' 1980 legal action asked the Canadian Courts to affirm that the Lubicon people retained unextinguished aboriginal land rights over their unceded traditional territory, and, if the Canadian Courts found that they had somehow lost title to their unceded traditional lands, to declare that they were at least entitled to the benefits of Treaty 8 and to award them one billion dollars in damages for loss of their resource-rich, 10,000 square kilometre traditional territory. (At this stage the oil company invasion of the unceded traditional Lubicon territory had just begun, the traditional Lubicon hunting and trapping economy was still basically intact and both levels of Canadian Government were flatly refusing to acknowledge that the Lubicon people had any rights to the unceded Lubicon territory. Through this 1980 legal action the Lubicons were seeking both acknowledgment of their land rights and also to impress upon both levels of Canadian Government that those rights should be taken seriously. Since that time oil companies operating under Provincial Government permits and licences have extracted an estimated 7 billion dollars in resources from unceded Lubicon territory, effectively destroying the traditional Lubicon economy and forcing 95% of the Lubicon people onto welfare in order to survive.)
Having failed to mention that the Lubicon's 1980 legal action sought a billion dollars in damages as well as the benefits of Treaty 8 if the Canadian Courts found that the Lubicon people had somehow lost title to their resource-rich, 10,000 square kilometre traditional territory, the Siddon document says "the Band now seeks $170,000,000" -- as though the Lubicons are being offered the reserve lands sought in the 1980 legal action but are now demanding an additional $170 million. In fact Lubicon demands have not increased. Rather what's happened over the years is that the Lubicon position has simply evolved and been refined in response to dramatically changed circumstances.
By 1983 it was clear that there was no hope of effective redress for continuing destruction of Lubicon lands and the traditional Lubicon economy through the Canadian Courts. The traditional Lubicon economy and way of life was in a shambles. And the Lubicon people were forced to start thinking about both different strategies for defending their vital interests and about what would be required to make the then obviously necessary transition to a hopefully viable new economy and way of life. The different strategies for defending themselves have included things like the Olympic and Daishowa boycotts; the need to develop a hopefully viable new economy and way of life resulted in the comprehensive settlement package first presented to Federal Indian Affairs Minister David Crombie in 1984 -- the same package now calculated to cost $170 million in 1988 Canadian dollars.
The Siddon document says that the $170 million sought from the Canadian Government by the Lubicon people "is a demand for the band's share of programs and services since 1899". It is not. What the Lubicon people seek is to negotiate a comprehensive settlement of their valuable aboriginal land rights which will enable them to make the tough and expensive transition from a once viable hunting and trapping economy, utilizing their 10,000 square kilometre traditional territory, to a hopefully viable new economy and way of life on a much smaller 246 square kilometre Indian reserve.
The proposed Lubicon settlement agreement would include a number of elements including housing, community infrastructure, basic community facilities, a small commercial centre, development of reserve lands for agricultural purposes and an investment fund to provide the Lubicon people with on-going interest revenues. Reserve set-up costs for things like housing, roads, a school, a community hall, a health centre, a general store, an administrative office and development of reserve lands for agricultural purposes are calculated to cost approximately $70 million in 1988 Canadian dollars. The other $100 million would be used for the proposed investment fund. (If the investment fund generates interest revenues after inflation at about the same rate as similar funds in Alberta and Alaska, the Lubicon people could expect to receive annual interest revenues of about $4.5 million to help them make the aforementioned tough and expensive transition from a once viable hunting and trapping economy and way of life to a hopefully viable new economy and way of life.)
Alternatively, of course, and if given the option, the Lubicon people would much prefer to simply keep their unceded, resource-rich 10,000 square kilometre traditional territory.
When the Siddon document talks about a Lubicon "demand for the band's share of programs and services since 1899", it's in fact talking only about the issue of financial compensation owing from the Federal Government -- using an approach first suggested in 1985 by Federal Inquiry Officer E. Davie Fulton.
Prior to 1985 the Lubicons were seeking damages from the Federal Government for destruction of their traditional lands and way of life, breach of fiduciary responsibility, loss of use and other basically legalistic categories of damage. Mr. Fulton argued that such categories were difficult to qualify and quantify and suggested instead calculating the value of the programs, benefits and services which the Lubicon people should have been receiving from the Federal Government since Treaty 8 was signed in 1899 but weren't.
The Lubicons told Mr. Fulton that they were not a party to Treaty 8 and therefore made no claim to lost programs, benefits and services under Treaty 8.
Mr. Fulton argued that such programs, benefits and services were the right of Indians across the country, whether signatories to a treaty or not, and again made the case that calculation of lost programs, benefits and services would be the easiest way to calculate damages against the Federal Government. The Lubicons consequently agreed to simplify their damage claims against the Federal Government as Mr. Fulton suggested, checking the archives to identify how much money had been allocated by the Federal Government for Indian programs over the years, identifying the number of Indians those monies were allocated to serve, calculating a per capita, deducting the value of programs and services received (primarily since 1980), and adding Bank of Canada interest rates and Statistics Canada inflation rates. The resulting figure was $167 million in lost programs, benefits and services from the Federal Government (to say nothing of the estimated $7 billion in natural resources illegally expropriated from unceded Lubicon lands under the auspices of the Provincial Government).
The Siddon document says that the Government of "Canada has invited the band to pursue (the question of financial compensation) in the (Canadian) courts", which, it says, "the Lubicon Lake Band has refused to do". Again this statement isn't true. What the Federal Government in fact did was give the Lubicons a "take-it-or-leave-it" offer which explicitly excluded the possibility of going to court to sue for financial compensation or anything else, while at the same time falsely claiming publicly that the so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer allowed the Lubicons to go to court and sue for financial compensation.
Given the Lubicon people's well documented experience with the Canadian Courts, they of course have absolutely no intention of letting Judges appointed by the Canadian Government unilaterally determine the value of their lands and way of life. They tried for 13 painful years to get the Canadian Courts to make Canadian Government obey Canadian law, only to have the Government change the law retroactively while one of their actions was before the courts; then they faced an ex-oil company head lawyer turned Provincial Court Judge who decided in spite of uncontested evidence to the contrary that the Lubicon people had no traditional way of life left to protect; then they faced an Appeal Court Judge who was the ex-family lawyer of the Provincial Premier and ex-partner of the head oil company lawyer on the case; then they had their application to have development activity in their area frozen denied by a panel of Provincial Court Judges who decided that the Lubicons didn't need an injunction to protect their land rights because they could supposedly "restore the wilderness" with money damages if they could ever prove that they own their unceded traditional lands; then they faced an ex-oil company lawyer turned Supreme Court Judge who declined to even hear their appeal and has since retired from the Bench and been appointed to the Board of one of the major oil companies operating in area; then they were told that for procedural reasons there was not one single court in Canada prepared to hear their aboriginal rights case against the Federal Government even though the Federal Government has exclusive Constitutional responsibility for dealing with aboriginal land rights in Canada. (After studying this horrific Lubicon legal history the UN Human Rights Committee agreed that the Lubicons stood no chance of achieving effective legal redress from the Canadian Courts.)
Next the Siddon document claims that the UN Human Rights Committee "found that the (take-it-or-leave-it) offer which Canada has already made to the band is fair and reasonable and would meet any obligation Canada has under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights". This is not what UN Human Rights Committee decision says, nor, according to Committee officials, is it what Committee members intended.
The actual wording of the UN Human Rights Committee decision reads as follows:
"Historical inequities, to which the State party refers, and certain more recent developments threaten the way of life and culture of the Lubicon Lake Band, and constitute a violation of article 27 (of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) as long as they continue (underlining added). The State party proposes to rectify the situation by a remedy that the Committee deems appropriate within the meaning of article 2 of the Covenant. (Article 2 says basically that each party to the Covenant, which includes Canada, undertakes to ensure that the rights of all people living within its boundaries are respected.)"
The finding that Canada is in violation of article 27 as long as historical inequities and recent developments which threaten the way of life and culture of the Lubicon people continue is of course a far more clear-cut finding than the finding that Canada "proposes to rectify the situation with a (unspecified) remedy that the Committee deems appropriate..." Asked by reporters to clarify the second part of the decision Committee officials were quoted as saying that "the wording was left deliberately vague so that both parties can interpret it their own way and get back to the table". (Legal scholars have subsequently interpreted the wording of the decision as only supporting a negotiated rather than litigated settlement, especially since the Committee had earlier concluded that the Lubicons couldn't achieve effective legal redress within Canada -- not as approving the Federal Government's so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer which Committee members knew was untenable when they found Canada in continuing violation until the matter is settled.)
Enclosed for your information is a copy of Mr. Siddon's letter to Chief Ominayak, a copy of Chief Ominayak's letter of response, a copy of the Siddon propaganda document sent to reporters and copies of related media coverage.
Attachment #1: News Release via Canada NewsWire, Ottawa 613-563-4465
Attention News Editors:
FEDERAL AND PROVINCIAL MINISTERS TO MEET WITH LUBICON BAND AFTER CHRISTMAS
OTTAWA, Dec. 2/CNW/ - Alberta will join with the federal government early in the new year to seek a solution to the Lubicon land claim. Indian Affairs and Northern Development Minister, Tom Siddon today released a letter sent recently to Bernard Ominayak, inviting the Chief to join the session.
"I requested a meeting between all three parties to further talks on the Lubicon land claim," said Siddon.
In the interim, the Minister said he hoped federal and Lubicon negotiators would resume discussions on the land claim so a fair settlement to all parties involved can be found.
Chief Bernard Ominayak
Lubicon Lake Indian Band
PEACE RIVER, Alberta
Dear Chief Ominayak:
I very much appreciated the opportunity to meet with you in Edmonton on November 1, 1991 to discuss in general terms the Lubicon Lake Band's land claim.
I have now had an opportunity to review the settlement proposal which you gave me during the meeting. It appears to me that the total of the monetary demands contained in the proposal, not including the value of land and minerals offered by Alberta, is in excess of $200 million. As we discussed at our meeting, direct comparisons of your proposal to other land claim settlements are dependant on the number of members of Lubicon Lake Band at the present time. It is fair to say, however, that your demands far exceed any land claim settled with other bands. For instance, your proposal is perhaps eight to ten times as rich as the recent major Ouje- Bougoumou Cree settlement.
Nevertheless, except on the issue of $60 million in compensation demanded from each of Canada and Alberta, there appears to be little difference between the Band and Canada on the substantive elements contained in your proposal and those which Canada would consider as possible within the context of an overall settlement. Indeed, Canada's and Alberta's 1989 offers contain most of what you now propose for a settlement. The main difference between us relate to money. This is especially important to keep in mind because the usually contentious issue of land has already been resolved.
Given our mutual concurrence on what most of the issues are, I believe there is sufficient common ground for renewed substantive discussions between Canada, Alberta, and your representatives. To that end, I have contacted the Honourable Dick Fowler, the Alberta Minister Responsible for Native Affairs, who has agreed to a suggestion that the three of us meet to explore the best forum of renewed talks. Mr. Fowler has indicated he will be available for a meeting in early February. Could you please advise me if that timing is convenient for you.
Tom Siddon, P.C., M.P.
cc: The Honourable Dick Fowler
STATUS OF LUBICON LAKE CLAIM
In 1933, the heads of fourteen Indian families living near Lubicon Lake petitioned the federal government. They stated that they were treaty Indians and mostly members of the Whitefish Lake Band, which had received a reserve in 1908. However, the families said they lived apart from the Whitefish Lake Band and that they wanted a reserve of their own at Lubicon Lake.
In 1939, the government agreed to recognize them as a band and to provide a 25.4 square mile reserve for their population of 127 people, in accordance with the provisions of Treaty 8.
The Second World War intervened and, in the years following, the claim was not pursued. During this period the band was treated like all other bands. It received government support for housing, band salaries and administration, education and social assistance.
THE LUBICON CLAIM
In 1980 the Lubicon Lake Band filed a statement of claim in the Federal Court of Canada against Canada, Alberta and various oil companies.
The Lubicon claim was in three parts:
- they had aboriginal title; failing that,
- they were within the Treaty 8 area and were entitled to a settlement based upon its benefits; and failing that,
- they were promised a reserve which they had yet to receive.
The band now seeks $170,000,000. Its case against Canada is a demand for the band's share of programs and services since 1899 -- an issue which Canada has invited the band to pursue in the courts. The Lubicon Lake Band has refused to do this.
In 1984, it started an appeal to the United Nations Human Rights Committee. The Committee's finding confirmed what the Government of Canada has already acknowledged -- that an obligation to the Lubicons exists which must be settled.
The Human Rights Committee found that the offer which Canada has already made to the band is fair and reasonable and would meet any obligation Canada has under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. After examining the facts, the U.N. agreed that the government offer to the Lubicon Lake Indians is an appropriate remedy. When this decision was released in May, 1990 the Minister for Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Tom Siddon, indicated the government's desire to resolve this matter and expressed the hope that band leaders would accept the offer.
The Lubicon leadership has so far refused. The government cannot impose a settlement on the band.
For further information: Monika Quinn, Press Secretary, Minister's Office, (819) 997-0002; Bob Coulter, DIAND, (819) 994-1241
Attachment #2: December 4, 1991, letter from Chief Ominayak to Tom Siddon
Dear Mr. Siddon:
I received a faxed copy of your November 29th letter on December 2nd, shortly before I started received calls about it from reporters to whom it had apparently been faxed simultaneously. I of course realized immediately upon reading it that much of your letter had been primarily written for the benefit of others, since both you and I know better.
As the Lubicon people have indicated publicly on a number of occasions, the total value of the Lubicon draft settlement agreement which I gave you on November 1st is approximately 170 million 1988 Canadian dollars -- not in excess of $200 million as you claim in your letter. Should Federal officials have difficulty with these calculations we can make people available to help them figure it out.
Neither is it accurate to say, as you do in your letter, that the value of Lubicon demands, excluding the value of land and minerals, "far exceed any land claim settled with other Bands". The recent Ouje-Bougoumou Cree settlement in Quebec, for example, which you claim has a value of only 1/8th to 1/10th of Lubicon settlement proposals, is in fact quite comparable. With a slightly smaller total population, the Ouje-Bougoumou Cree received over $79 million for reserve set-up costs compared to projected Lubicon reserve set-up costs of approximately $70 million. In both cases as you know, the question of compensation remains outstanding.
Excepting compensation, you say, "there appears to be little difference between the Band and Canada on the substantive elements contained in (the Lubicon draft settlement agreement) and those which Canada would consider as possible within the context of an overall settlement." "Indeed", you say, "most of what (the Lubicon people) propose for a settlement...(is contained in)...Canada's and Alberta's 1989 offers". Therefore, you say, "the main differences between us relate to money".
If what you're saying about agreement on the so-called "substantive elements" is essentially true instead of being just another Federal Government word game deliberately intended to mislead, then perhaps the only remaining issue between us really is money -- in which case I'm sure that a resolution of our differences on compensation can be achieved through some form of independent, third party arbitration.
I would caution you, however, that the Lubicon people don't consider things like our proposed old people's home, community hall and combined community shop/vocational training centre to be just unimportant details which we're prepared to write off in order that the Canadian Government can keep us forever in a state of social, economic and political dependence. We consider things like our proposed old people's home, community hall and combined community shop/vocational training centre to all be essential elements in our plans for rebuilding our shattered economy and way of life -- without which there will be no settlement of Lubicon land rights.
In the hope that you and your Provincial counterpart are finally serious about achieving a settlement of Lubicon land rights -- in spite of all that you've both been doing lately to suggest otherwise -- I look forward to a meeting with you and Mr. Fowler in early February. As I told you when we met on November 1st, if the will is there on the part of the Federal and Provincial Governments I'm sure that we can find ways to arrive at a mutually satisfactory solution.
Bernard Ominayak, Chief, Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
Attachment #3: Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (7:30 A.M.) Friday, December 06, 1991
Phil Henry, CBC News
There's hope the Lubicon land claim talks may resume. Negotiations with Ottawa broke down nearly 3 years ago. The Chief of the Lubicon Band says he's taken up an offer by the Federal Minister of Indian Affairs to meet in early February. As Byron Christopher explains, the meeting will try to lay the groundwork for full-fledged talks.
Byron Christopher, CBC News
On Monday Tom Siddon -- the Federal Minister of Indian Affairs -- made the pitch to Chief Bernard Ominayak that they get together. It would be a meeting, in his words, to "explore the best forum for renewed talks". In other words, "Let's get together to talk about how we can start up these land claim talks again." Siddon suggested sometime in early February. He also said that Dick Fowler, the man responsible for Natives in Alberta, could join them. Ominayak has now agreed to that meeting. But he says he will only meet if Tom Siddon and Dick Fowler are serious about negotiations.
Chief Bernard Ominayak, Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
I don't think we can afford to sit around and talk about the weather and so on any longer. I think we've got to start dealing with facts. We've got a very serious problem that needs to be dealt with and that would be our purpose and intent at any given meeting.
If the three men are going to meet, the question is where? Previous meetings have been in Edmonton and Ottawa. Chief Ominayak thinks maybe they should find a new place to meet.
For our part we'd certainly welcome a meeting right at Lubicon if these people are interested in dealing with the problem.
The Lubicon Nation has been trying to sign a treaty with the Canadian Government for more than 50 years. Byron Christopher, CBC News, Edmonton.
Attachment #4: Transcript of CBC Newsworld TV Broadcast (11:20 A.M.) Friday, December 06, 1991
Bob Nicholson, Canada Live:
Coming up on the Canada Live Regional Desk today -- the Lubicon Indian Band gives it another try. The Lubicon Indians live in northern Alberta. They've been fighting for a treaty for more than 50 years now. In February, the Chief of the Lubicons will try one more time to start a new set of negotiations with the Federal and Provincial Indian Affairs Ministers. Coming up, we'll talk with the Chief of the Lubicons.
One of the oldest and most publicized of the Native land disputes in Canada may be back on track, at least at the bargaining table. The dispute involves the Lubicon Indians from northern Alberta, and the Federal and Provincial governments. The Lubicons, a couple of years ago, resorted to a blockade around their tribal territory to press their claims for land for a reserve. They've been fighting for a treaty since 1939. In the past couple of years talks have virtually broken down. But now there's a sign of hope. New talks are scheduled for February. Bernard Ominayak is the Chief of the Lubicon Band and he joins me from Edmonton. Chief Ominayak, welcome to Canada Live.
Chief Bernard Ominayak, Lubicon Lake Indian Nation: Thank you.
Nicholson: What do you think is doing to come of this meeting with Mr. Fowler and Mr. Siddon in February?
Ominayak: I would hope that it leads to some serious discussions and to a final fair and just settlement for my people.
Nicholson: Do you think it's going to do that?
Ominayak: It's hard to say at this point when the indications aren't that. For example, the last time Mr. Siddon requested a meeting with myself -- a one-on-one meeting with no media, I got to Edmonton and he was in a meeting with an Edmonton editorial board discussing what he was going to be discussing with me...His latest letter he sent to me he also sent to the mainline media. So these kinds of questions arise as to what this Minister is doing. It seems to me the letter was meant for people other than myself.
Nicholson: Chief Ominayak, since the last time you negotiated on the land claim settlement the Federal Government has made a settlement with the so- called Woodland Cree which evidently took away some of your Lubicon members. Do you see your support and your membership dwindling away as the years go by?
Ominayak: That's the hope and the wish of the Federal Government. They've made great efforts in trying to do that but I don't think they were successful to any degree, for example, in dealing with the Woodlands. Now they've moved to the next community to the east of us where they are doing similar things. They've got the same lawyers involved and the same thing taking place. They're still fooling around that way.
Nicholson: Are you still going back to the table with the same demands you went with three years ago?
Ominayak: Yes, of course. One of the important things is that we'd like to start building a future for our younger generations. In order to do that we're going to have to look at some money. That's one of the things that we would like to have in place. There's been a lot of going back and forth, a lot of propaganda is being dished out by the Federal Government. For example, they say, "We're prepared to negotiate" and we say "Fine, let's negotiate". Then they throw their "take-it-or-leave-it" offer back on the table.
Nicholson: Chief Ominayak, I really wish you luck with this. I hope you get the settlement. Thank you for talking to us today.
Ominayak: Thank you.
Attachment #5: Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (8:30 A.M.) Friday, December 06, 1991
Phil Henry, CBC News
Land claim negotiations may start up again between the Lubicon Indians and Ottawa. Negotiations broke down nearly 3 years ago. Yesterday, the Chief of the Lubicon Indians agreed to a request from the Federal Minister of Indian Affairs to meet in early February. Tom Siddon requested the meeting on Monday. The purpose of the meeting would be to discuss a time and place for full-fledged land claim talks. Chief Bernard Ominayak says he'll meet if the Ministers are serious about negotiations. Ominayak says the big issue is money.
Chief Bernard Ominayak, Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
Of course. We realize that our way of life has been destroyed. They've extracted billions of dollars in resources off our lands and these resources are legally ours. Yet we are forced onto welfare. And in the process we've lost our livelihood. Now we've got to replace it with something else, which is going to cost some money. That's what we've been saying to both levels of Government. That's a crucial issue and it has to be dealt with.
The Lubicon Nation has been trying to sign a treaty with the Canadian Government since 1939. The Band wants at least $170 million. The Government has made an offer worth up to $45 million. The size and location of the reserve was settled several years ago.