Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
Little Buffalo Lake, AB
3536 - 106 Street
Edmonton, AB T6J 1A4
December 18, 1991
Enclosed for your information is a copy of a letter which Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak recently sent to the U.N. Human Rights Committee. The Chief's letter up-dates the Committee on the Lubicon situation and advises the Committee how the Canadian Government is using the Committee's U.N. decision as a key element in its current anti-Lubicon propaganda campaign.
December 18, 1991, letter from Chief Bernard Ominayak to the United Nations Human Rights Committee
Mr. Jakob Th. Moller
Chief Communications Unit
Centre for Human Rights
United Nations Office
CH-1211 Geneve 10
RE: Communication No. 167/1984
The Lubicon people wish to apprize the Committee of developments respecting the Committee's March 26, 1990, decision on violation of Lubicon rights under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We also wish to inquire about promised Committee follow-up on that decision.
There have been no negotiations between the Lubicon people and the Government of Canada since January 24, 1989, when Canadian Government representatives deliberately broke down negotiations with a surprise "take-it-or-leave-it" settlement offer known in advance to be untenable because it provided the Lubicon people with absolutely no hope of ever again becoming socially, politically or economically self-sufficient. Since that time Canadian Government representatives have reiterated repeatedly that their clearly unacceptable so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer will not be changed.
In essence the Canadian Government has offered to build houses for the Lubicon people and to support us forever on welfare -- like animals in the zoo who are cared for and fed at an appointed time -- in exchange for our acquiescence to the deliberate destruction of our self-sufficient way of life and the pillage of our resource-rich 10,000 square kilometre traditional territory. The genocidal consequences for aboriginal people of such an arrangement are well known and are a national disgrace in Canada with aboriginal people suffering 90% plus unemployment rates, overcrowded and inadequate housing, high disease and alcoholism rates, high illiteracy rates, infant mortality rates nearly twice the national average, average life expectancy 10 years shorter than the national average, violent deaths three times more common than among non-aboriginal people, death by poisoning or injury four times more common, an overall death rate four times higher than other people in the country and the highest suicide rate of any racial or ethnic group in the world.
Continuing Subversion of Lubicon Rights and Society
As predicted Canada has proceeded apace with efforts to subvert rights which the Lubicon people supposedly enjoy under Canadian law and to tear Lubicon society asunder, creating a whole new aboriginal society with supposedly equal rights to our unceded traditional territory out of disparate individuals technically belonging to a half-a-dozen different aboriginal societies from the surrounding area, selecting and paying a lawyer to "negotiate" a settlement of aboriginal land rights over our unceded traditional territory supposedly on behalf of this new Government-created aboriginal society, promising to pay the members of this new Government-created aboriginal society $1,000 each (which they learned later would be deducted from their normal welfare payments) if they accepted this Government contrived settlement agreement, and then publicly claiming that the Lubicon people no longer hold unextinguished aboriginal land rights to our traditional territory, because, supposedly, "other natives, who shared those traditional lands with the Lubicons either signed or adhered to Treaty No. 8".
The very wording of the Canadian "Indian Act" legislation under which this new "Band" was created illustrates the nature of the problem faced not only by the Lubicon people but also by all of the aboriginal people in Canada. Certainly such provisions directed at any other distinct people or political jurisdiction in the country is both unimaginable and would be rightly condemned as an unacceptable violation of civil and political rights. The operative section of that 1985 Canadian "Indian Act" legislation reads, in part:
"17.(1) The Minister may, whenever he considers it desirable...constitute new Bands and establish Band lists with respect thereto from existing Band lists, or from the (Government-created) Indian Register, if requested to do so by (an unspecified number of) persons proposing to form the new Band. (In this case the Government of Canada actually sent agents into the area surrounding the traditional Lubicon territory to solicit and organize such a request.)
"(2) Where pursuant to subsection (1) a new Band has been established from an existing Band or any part thereof (underlining added), such portion of the reserve lands and funds of the existing Band as the Minister (in his sole discretion) determines shall be held for the use and benefit of the new Band. (This clause literally gives the Minister the legal power to take apart any aboriginal society in the country and to distribute the lands and resources rightfully belonging to that aboriginal society as he sees fit.)
"(3) No protest may be made...in respect of the deletion from or the addition to a Band List consequent on the exercise by the Minister of any of his powers under subsection (1)."
Committee Members Now Implicated in the Genocide of the Lubicon people
Most recently, and in response to Lubicon efforts to block clear-cutting of trees in our unceded traditional territory by a Japanese forestry company to whom the Alberta Provincial Government has sold the timber rights to a huge 41,000 square kilometre area which completely blankets our 10,000 square kilometre traditional territory -- something which would almost certainly complete the genocidal process being deliberately and systematically directed against the Lubicon people by the Canadian and Alberta Governments -- the Canadian Government initiated a major new anti-Lubicon propaganda campaign claiming, among other things, that "the Human Rights Committee found the (take-it-or-leave-it) offer which Canada made to the (Lubicon people) is fair and reasonable and would meet any obligation Canada has under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights". Thus has the Government of Canada now used the imprecise wording of the Committee's Lubicon decision to implicate the members of the Human Rights Committee in the genocide of the Lubicon people -- much in the same way that the Nazis implicated the international community in the Holocaust by citing refusals of other countries to accept German Jews.
Lastly we would like to know what if anything has happened with promised Committee follow-up on the decision. We were advised by Committee staff at the time of the decision that a Special Rapporteur would be appointed to follow-up on the Committee's decision and that Canada would be reported annually to the General Assembly so long as the violation of our rights continued -- along with other violators of the International Covenant such as South Africa. The violation of our rights clearly continues. We've heard nothing from or about any "Special Rapporteur". And we're distressed to note that Canada is not even being reported to the General Assembly as being in continuing violation of our rights under the Covenant.
As a people whose society is being systematically destroyed and whose members have literally been dying while the Committee spent years contemplating our increasingly desperate plight, it seems to us that the Committee could at least now keep its promise to annually report the results of its tragically ineffectual decision on continuing violation of our civil and political rights to the General Assembly.
Bernard Ominayak, Chief
Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
Mr. Antonio Gonzalez, Director
International Indian Treaty Council
Messrs. Erasmus and Dussault, Co-Chairpersons,
Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples
Grand Chief Ovide Mercredi
Assembly of First Nations
Grand Chief Matthew Cooncome
Grand Council of the Crees
U.N. Human Rights Committee Members --
Mr. Andreas Mavrommatis
Mr. Nisuke Ando
Mlle. Christine Chanet
Mr. Vojin Dimitrijevic
Mr. Rein A. Myullerson
M. Birame Ndiaye
M. Fausto Pocar
Mr. Omran El Shafei
Mrs. Rosalyn Higgins
United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland
Sr. Julio Prado Vallejo
Sr. A. Serrano Caldera
Mr. S. Amos Wako
Mr. Bertil Wennergren
Mr. Rajsoomer Lallah
Mr. Francisco Jose Aguilar Urbina
Mr. Janos Fodor
Mr. Kurt Herndl
Mr. Walsed Sadi