Government "Standard Response Letter" re Lubicon Situation


Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
Little Buffalo Lake, AB
403-629-3945
FAX: 403-629-3939

Mailing address:
3536 - 106 Street
Edmonton, AB T6J 1A4
403-436-5652
FAX: 403-437-0719



December 09, 1991



Enclosed for your information is a copy of a "standard response" letter on the Lubicon situation with related cover note recently sent to Canadian Missions around the world by the Canadian Government. In the letter Canadian officials again demonstrably lie to the international community.



Sending such materials to Canadian Missions around the world makes clear that the Canadian Government is worried about and seeking to deflect international criticism over its handling of the Lubicon situation. Canadian Government concern this time is likely inspired by the international controversy being generated by the growing international boycott of Daishowa paper products.



The purpose of the "standard response" letter is of course to provide Canadian Mission personnel with officially "approved" Canadian Government propaganda on the continuing Lubicon tragedy so that they'll be prepared to respond to anticipated international inquiries, demonstrations, etc. In context it's also clearly part of the Government's major new anti-Lubicon propaganda campaign.



The cover note mentions a so-called "Fact Sheet on the Status of Lubicon Land Claim" sent to Canadian Missions on October 29th. This so-called "fact sheet" isn't attached to the "standard response" letter but is likely the same "Status of Lubicon Land Claim" document faxed to reporters in Canada on December 2nd which falsely claimed, among other things, that "the (UN) Human Rights Committee found the (Federal Government's so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer) is fair and reasonable and would meet any obligation Canada has under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights". (A copy of the so-called "fact sheet" faxed to reporters by the Canadian Government on December 2nd was sent to the mailing list on December 5th along with an analysis).



The cover note also indicates "that there could be some developments in the Lubicon situation over the next while...(and that Canadian Missions)...will be kept informed accordingly". In context this line is not as innocuous as it sounds and is strongly reminiscent of the "IMPLEMENTATION" section of the "Strategic Communications" paper prepared for the Federal Indian Affairs Minister a couple of years ago and discussed in the December 7th mail-out. The "IMPLEMENTATION" section of that "Strategic Communications" paper reads, in part:



"All progress would be publicized to reinforce the good intentions of the government, the fairness of its position, the success of the negotiating process, and to build public pressure on the non- negotiating group to come to the table". (You'll recall that the purpose of the indicated negotiations was to get the James Bay Cree to agree to Canadian Government default on its specific, written, constitutionalized obligations under the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. You'll recall also that the so-called "non-negotiating group" were James Bay Cree who were simply insisting that the Canadian Government honour those explicit, written, constitutionalized obligations. To talk about Canadian Government "fairness" and "good intentions" under such circumstances is of course absurd, although it's exactly the same kind of artfully crafted, deliberately deceitful, self-serving disinformation that the Lubicons are now facing with the Canadian Government's current anti-Lubicon propaganda campaign.)



The "standard response" letter offers little that's new but does provide some creative new twists on Alberta Provincial Government sale of Lubicon trees to Daishowa. It repeats the essentially irrelevant argument that "the forest management agreement between Daishowa...and the province of Alberta specifically excludes logging near the proposed (95 square mile) Lubicon reserve but (admits that Daishowa's logging lease) does overlap (the 10,000 square kilometre traditional Lubicon territory)...where the Lubicon claim aboriginal land rights". It says that "the Canadian Government acknowledges that the Lubicon Band has a valid claim (to reserve lands) under Treaty 8...entered into with the Cree and other Indians in 1899" but says that "under the terms of Treaty 8...the Lubicon Band is no longer considered (by the Canadian Government) to have a valid claim for aboriginal rights to land". It fails to explain how the Lubicons lost the rights to their traditional aboriginal lands through a treaty they never signed -- lands owned and occupied by the Lubicon people since well before the arrival of western Europeans which the Lubicon people have in fact never sold, traded, lost in war nor ceded to anybody in any legally or historically recognized way.



Canadian law provides that rights to aboriginal lands in Canada are obtained by the Canadian Government under something called the Royal Proclamation of 1763. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 in turn establishes that such rights remain with the original aboriginal owners of the land until formally transferred to the Crown through negotiation of a formal land cession Treaty. No such treaty has ever been negotiated with the Lubicon people and official Government records make clear that the Government Treaty Party which negotiated Treaty 8 in 1899 never even entered the traditional Lubicon territory.



The terms of Treaty 8 are recorded in an existing, written document containing the names of the aboriginal nations which are parties to it. The aboriginal signatories to Treaty 8 are clearly identified both by name and by the aboriginal nation each represented. There are no Lubicon signatories to Treaty 8 and nobody professed to be signing Treaty 8 on behalf of the Lubicons.



The Federal Government's so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer to the Lubicons contains an explicit, written provision whereby the Canadian Government would require the Lubicons to "cede, release and surrender to Her Majesty in Right of Canada all their aboriginal claims, rights, titles and interest, if any, in and to lands and waters anywhere within Canada". Requiring the Lubicons to cede their aboriginal land rights makes little sense if the Canadian Government really believes that the Lubicons no longer retain aboriginal land rights to unceded Lubicon territory.



The Canadian Government's so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer to the Lubicons would also require the Lubicons to formally sign an "adhesion" to Treaty 8. An "adhesion" is the prescribed procedure for joining an existing treaty -- something else which makes no sense if the Canadian Government really believes that the Lubicons are already covered by Treaty 8.



On December 2, 1991, Federal Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon publicly if unintentionally admitted in a letter to the Editor of the Edmonton Journal that the Lubicons were "overlooked when Treaty 8 was signed" (see December 4, 1991 mail-out). While consistent with provisions in the Federal Government's so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer which would require the Lubicons to cede their aboriginal land rights and "adhere" to Treaty 8, Mr. Siddon's December 2nd letter is hardly consistent with the claim made in the "standard response" letter that "the Lubicon Band is no longer considered, under the terms of Treaty 8, to have a valid claim for aboriginal rights to land".



Lastly the "standard response" letter again repeats the clearly deliberate lie that the Lubicons assert unextinguished aboriginal land rights over "an area nearly the size of the Netherlands and Belgium combined". According to the Columbia Encyclopedia the Netherlands is approximately 41,344 square kilometres in size and Belgium is approximately 30,513 square kilometres -- a combined area of nearly 72,000 square kilometres. The unceded traditional Lubicon territory -- as Canadian Government officials know very well -- is approximately 10,000 square kilometres.



The source of the fallacious Federal Government assertion that the Lubicons have "various claims including for an area nearly the size of the Netherlands and Belgium combined" is a legal action filed on behalf on the Lubicons in the early 1980s which mistakenly used erroneous numbers long since formally corrected. Both levels of Canadian Government are well aware of both the mistake and the formal correction but have regularly chosen ever since to ignore the formal correction and instead refer to the incorrect numbers in spite of being publicly set straight each time they do it and clearly knowing better.



The relevance of such numbers games is always dubious but some interesting numbers did jump out off the page when checking the size of Belgium and the Netherlands. According to the Columbia Encyclopedia Belgium and the Netherlands have a combined population approximately the same as Canada but lands nearly 139 times smaller. Thus if the point of this particular Canadian Government lie is that the relatively large size of traditional Lubicon lands somehow makes the Lubicon people unreasonable, then the people of Belgium and the Netherlands might well make the same point with regard to the relatively vast lands claimed by Canadians. Moreover, contrary to Hitler's lebensraum arguments and whatever illusion Canadian Government officials are seeking to create by deliberately exaggerating the size of traditional Lubicon lands, relative population density just simply isn't a tenable basis for seizing lands and resources rightfully belonging to somebody else.


Attachment #1: Documents from External Affairs to Canadian Embassies

UNCLASSIFIED



FROM OTT BPF2527 21 NOV 91



TO BY FAX TO FOLLOWING MISSIONS - ATHNS ATNTA BERN BFALO BGOTA BNATO BONN BOSTN BREEC BRSLA BRU CHCGO CLVND CNBRA CNGNY COPEN CRCAS DALAS DTROT DUBLN GENEV GTNLA HAGUE HKONG HSNKI KLMPR LDN LIMA LNGLS LSBON MANIL MDRID MNPLS MOSCO MXICO OSLO PARIS POECD PRET PRMNY ROME SEATL SFRAN SJOSE SPORE STKHM TAVIV TOKYO VATCN VIENN WDOAS WLGTN WSHDC



DISTR IMH URR RWP PGP



REF OURTEL BPF2469 29 OCT



-- STATUS OF LUBICON LAKE CLAIM



ATTACHED IS A LETTER, APPROVED BY DIAND, WHICH CAN BE USED AS A STANDARD RESPONSE TO QUESTIONS ON THE LUBICON SITUATION. THIS LETTER CAN ACCOMPANY THE FACT SHEET ON THE STATUS OF LUBICON LAND CLAIM SENT TO MISSIONS 29OCT WITH REFTEL.



2. DIAND INFORMS US THAT THERE COULD BE SOME DEVELOPMENTS IN THE LUBICON SITUATION OVER THE NEXT WHILE. WE WILL KEEP YOU INFORMED ACCORDINGLY.



CONCENTRE; PLEASE FAX ATTACHED 1/1 PAGE


2/2



UNCLASSIFIED



SUGGESTED BASIC TEXT FOR RESPONSE ON LUBICON INDIAN BAND ISSUE



Dear Sir or Madam:



I am writing in reply to your letter regarding the Lubicon Indians.



The Canadian government acknowledges that the Lubicon Band has a valid claim under Treaty 8, which was entered into with the Cree and other Indians in 1899. The treaty rights form the basis of offers of the Canadian and Albertan governments to the band. In January 1989, the governments of Canada and Alberta made a formal offer which includes: land for a reserve, inclusive of mines and minerals; $34 million to build a new community with new houses, community hall and school; a $10 million economic development package as well as $500,000 for a trust fund to assist elders pursue a traditional way of life. The offer would provide band members with the opportunity to pursue either a meaningful traditional lifestyle or to participate in the modern Canadian economy. (The offer is described more fully in the attached information sheet.)



Regarding resource extraction, any petroleum resources which were ever under the lands identified for the reserve in the formal government offer, are still available to the band, once the land claim is resolved and the land set aside as a reserve. As well, no logging has occurred on this land. The forest management agreement between Daishowa Canada Co. Ltd. and the province of Alberta specifically excludes logging near the proposed Lubicon Band reserve but it does overlap wit areas where the Lubicon claim aboriginal land rights. While the Lubicon Band has made various claims, including for an area nearly the size of the Netherlands and Belgium combined, the Lubicon Band is no longer considered, under the terms of Treaty 8, to have a valid claim for aboriginal rights to land.



The Lubicon have been made a fair and reasonable offer by the Canadian and Alberta governments. The United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC) decision, on the case brought by the Lubicon, said that the government offer to the Lubicon was an appropriate remedy. Other Indian bands in the area, with claims as valid as that of the Lubicon Band, have signed settlements with terms similar, though less generous, than those offered to the Lubicon.



The settlement of land claims is an important part of the Canadian government's Native Agenda and many initiatives have been undertaken to accelerate settlements with aboriginal groups in various parts of Canada.



Thank you for writing regarding the Lubicon Indians.



Yours sincerely,


Attachment #2: Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast

Tuesday, December 24, 1991



CBC Radio



The Lubicon Cree Indians of northern Alberta are accusing the federal government of spreading false information about their land claim. The government sent a memo this fall to more than 50 Canadian embassies and offices around the world. The memo instructs staff on what to tell people who claim Ottawa isn't treating the Lubicon fairly. A Lubicon advisor says the memo contains a "blatant lie". Byron Christopher reports.



Byron Christopher, CBC



Fred Lennarson says the government memo is full of garbage, but the part that gets him is what they're saying about the size of the Lubicon land claim. According to the memo, a "standard response letter" is to be mailed to people who complain about government treatment of the Lubicon. The letter contains this information: "The Lubicon Band has made various claims including an area nearly the size of the Netherlands and Belgium combined..." That works out to about 72,000 square kilometres. Lennarson says the Lubicon land claim is nowhere near that.





Fred Lennarson, Lubicon Advisor



The traditional Lubicon territory, as the government knows very well, is approximately 10,000 square kilometres. They are sending information to the international community that the Lubicons are asserting aboriginal rights over an area 7 times the size the Lubicon are actually asserting land rights over...and they know it. They are flat out lying to the international community.



Christopher



The memo was written by External Affairs, and approved by Indian and Northern Affairs. The standard response letter also mentions that the United Nations Human Rights Committee describes the government offer to the Lubicon as an "appropriate remedy". What the government letter does not say is that Canada violated the U.N. Charter on Human Rights, but that by negotiating with the Lubicon, Ottawa was taking a step in the right direction. The U.N. refuses to say whether the Canadian offer was fair or not. Lubicon support groups are active in Europe, Japan, the U.S. and Australia. People at External Affairs were not available for comment.

Byron Christopher, CBC News, Edmonton.