Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
Little Buffalo Lake, AB
3536 - 106 Street
Edmonton, AB T6J 1A4
June 24, 1992
On February 4th a New Democrat member of the Provincial Legislative Assembly named John McInnis asked Lubicon advisor Fred Lennarson if there was anything Provincial New Democrat Leader and Leader of the Official Opposition in Alberta Ray Martin could do to help facilitate a settlement of Lubicon land rights. Mr. McInnis offered that perhaps it would be helpful if Mr. Martin convened a group of prominent Albertans to issue a statement urging the Federal and Provincial Governments to settle.
Fred Lennarson suggested that it might be a good idea to first wait and hear the Federal Government's reaction to a Lubicon draft settlement agreement expected at a meeting scheduled for February 14th between Lubicon Chief Ominayak, Federal Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon and Provincial Native Affairs Minister Dick Fowler. When the promised Federal Government reaction to the Lubicon draft settlement agreement wasn't forthcoming on February 14th or at a subsequent meeting between the Chief and the two Ministers on February 21st, Fred Lennarson proposed to Mr. McInnis that it might be more helpful if Mr. Martin convened an independent, non-partisan Citizens Commission to publicly study, compare, assess and pronounce upon Lubicon settlement proposals and the Federal Government's so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" settlement offer.
Over the next couple of weeks the idea of an independent, non-partisan citizens commission convened by Mr. Martin in his official capacity as Leader of the Official Opposition, as distinct from his partisan position as leader of the Provincial New Democrats, was discussed by Mr. Martin and his colleagues. In the end Mr. Martin concluded that such a commission would serve the public interest by helping the public better understand the outstanding issues between the Government and the Lubicons.
On March 12th Federal officials gave the Lubicons a "book" of supposedly new reserve community construction proposals entitled "LUBICON LAKE CAPITAL WORKS". These supposedly new Federal proposals for constructing a Lubicon reserve community made no pretence of responding to detailed Lubicon settlement proposals and in fact only very slightly re-cast the community construction section of the Federal Government's so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer tabled in January of 1989.
On May 6th Federal officials gave the Lubicons a second "book" of supposedly new Lubicon settlement proposals which essentially reiterated the contents of first "book" plus added over 100 pages of general descriptive materials on standard Government programs to which Indians in Canada may apply. In other words "book two" is basically just a more complicated rendition of the Federal Government's so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer; namely, the clearly inadequate so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer plus advice to the Lubicons to apply to normal Government programs to try and obtain funds to finance essential settlement items not covered in the Government's so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer.
At this point it was clear that Federal officials smugly thought that they had the Lubicons over a tactical barrel. As long as the Lubicons stayed at the negotiating table -- behind closed doors at the insistence of the Government -- Mr. Siddon and Daishowa's Tom Hamaoka could deflect criticism and undercut the Daishowa boycott by claiming that appropriate remedial action is being taken and that progress is being made. On the other hand if the Lubicons refused to participate in these sham negotiations officials of the Government and Daishowa could claim that they were doing everything possible to try and resolve the matter but that the unreasonable Lubicons were refusing to talk.
On May 21st Ray Martin announced creation of an independent, non-partisan Lubicon Settlement Commission and deftly stood the tactical situation on end. Without the Lubicons leaving the table the public would now have access to the substantive information necessary for people to be able to decide for themselves whether the Government is taking appropriate remedial action and progress is being made, or if the current round of supposed negotiations is in fact just further reason to criticize the Government's handling of the Lubicon situation.
In other words on May 20th the Lubicons were damned if they stayed at the negotiating table and damned if they left. On May 21st the Government was damned if they appeared before the Lubicon Settlement Commission to answer questions about what was going on -- and damned if they didn't.
The Federal Government's predictable first reaction to announcement of the Lubicon Settlement Commission was "no comment". In a near verbatim replay of a line which representatives of both levels of Canadian Government have used repeatedly over the years to deflect questions about the Lubicon situation, Federal Indian Affairs PR man Wayne Hanna told reporters that the Federal Government wouldn't comment because "the Department doesn't want to jeopardize sensitive negotiations taking place right now".
Chief Ominayak responded to Mr. Hanna's public statement about "sensitive negotiations" by telling reporters that "negotiations are going nowhere, the Federal Government still hasn't responded to Lubicon settlement proposals (presented to them last November 1st) and all Federal representatives keep doing is re-tabling their 1989 so-called take-it-or-leave-it offer".
This kind of exchange in the media between the Lubicons and representatives of Canadian Government of course isn't new. What was new, as representatives of both levels of Canadian Government understood very well, was that within a matter of days the Lubicon Settlement Commission would start pulling the shroud away from what was really happening with Lubicon settlement talks.
To some extent the Fulton Inquiry had the same effect of subjecting the Lubicon situation to outside scrutiny, although that effect was unintentional in the case of the Fulton Inquiry and the Government had the power to simply shut-down the Fulton Inquiry when it became apparent that Mr. Fulton was proceeding as a truly independent third party instead of just another Government apologist. Shutting-down an independent, non-partisan Commission of credible, prominent Canadians was clearly going to be tougher to do.
On May 26th Fred Lennarson received a telephone call from an official of the Alberta Regional Office of Indian Affairs asking about the possibility of arranging a meeting that coming Friday between Mr. Lennarson and Federal Indian Affairs Deputy Minister Harry Swain. The purpose of the meeting, Mr. Lennarson was told, was "to try and identify some common ground". Mr. Lennarson said that he'd discuss the proposed meeting with Chief Ominayak.
The afternoon of May 27th Fred Lennarson advised Departmental officials that Chief Ominayak had authorized him to meet with Dr. Swain. Mr. Lennarson was told that he would receive a phone call from Alberta Indian Affairs Regional Director General Garry Wouters regarding details of the proposed meeting with Dr. Swain.
The evening of May 27th Fred Lennarson received a phone call from Mr. Wouters advising Mr. Lennarson that Mr. Wouters couldn't confirm a Friday meeting with Dr. Swain because Dr. Swain might be called back to Ottawa for Constitutional talks. A tentative meeting time of 1 pm on Friday was agreed, however, and Mr. Wouters promised that either he or Dr. Swain would phone Mr. Lennarson back about the proposed meeting. Mr. Wouters then engaged Fred Lennarson in a broadly ranging discussion of settlement issues, presumably to try and get some sense of how the proposed Friday meeting between Dr. Swain and Mr. Lennarson might go.
About 1:30 pm Friday afternoon Fred Lennarson received a telephone call from Mr. Wouters advising Mr. Lennarson that a meeting was impossible because Dr. Swain had been called back to Ottawa for Constitutional talks. Mr. Wouters asked about the possibility of his meeting with Mr. Lennarson the following Monday or Tuesday. Mr. Wouters was told that Mr. Lennarson had been asked to appear before the Lubicon Settlement Commission along with the Lubicons the following Monday and Tuesday. It's unlikely that Mr. Wouters didn't know about the well publicized Lubicon appearance before the Lubicon Settlement Commission scheduled for the following Monday and Tuesday.
It was later learned that Dr. Swain hadn't left for Ottawa that Friday without first meeting with Lubicon lawyer Bob Sachs. Apparently Dr. Swain had decided that his message to the Lubicons might be better transmitted through Mr. Sachs than Mr. Lennarson.
Dr. Swain told Bob Sachs that "The Minister is ticked-off over being lambasted in the House and the newspapers". He told Sachs that "last week (Swain) had to spend all afternoon with the Austrian Ambassador on the Lubicon issue". He told Mr. Sachs that "Lennarson's been talking to his friends in the Green Party and questions were raised in the Austrian Parliament". He told Mr. Sachs that he'd been instructed by Mr. Siddon to tell the Chief that "you can't suck and blow at the same time". He threatened to "pull the plug" on negotiations if the Lubicons didn't stop commenting publicly on lack of progress in negotiations. He made clear that the Minister was particularly concerned over the proposed Lubicon appearance before the Lubicon Settlement Commission.
The Lubicons appeared as scheduled before the Lubicon Settlement Commission the following Monday and Tuesday, June 1st and 2nd. Lack of progress around the negotiating table was discussed in detail and Bob Sachs reported to the Commission on the threat made by Dr. Swain the previous Friday.
The next day, June 3rd, Alberta Regional Office PR man Wayne Hanna told reporters that Dr. Swain categorically denied making the threat. Mr. Hanna said "Canada doesn't want to pull out of negotiations and is committed to negotiating a settlement and building a new community but...will not negotiate in the media".
The morning of June 4th a Ministerial Special Assistant named Doug Hoover phoned Chief Ominayak and told the Chief that Mr. Siddon would like to speak with him by phone at 1 pm Alberta time. Mr. Hoover said "The Minister is concerned about the log-jam (in negotiations) and wants to see if there isn't something he can do to move things along". Mr. Hoover said "The Minister is prepared to push everything aside and come to Little Buffalo with (Provincial Native Affairs Minister) Fowler tomorrow".
Mr. Siddon phoned Chief Ominayak at 1 pm as promised. He expressed concern over the impact of what he called "the Martin Commission" and asked if the Chief could meet with him and Mr. Fowler in Little Buffalo the following day. Chief Ominayak agreed to the proposed meeting.
Mr. Siddon told the Chief "I thought everything was going fine". "Then", he said, "the press went after me".
Chief Ominayak told Mr. Siddon "Your people have been dealing with the media all along, including a private, confidential meeting with senior CBC staff". (On March 20th, a full month after seeking agreement that negotiations would not be discussed with the media, Mr. Wouters met and discussed media coverage of the Lubicon situation with senior CBC management officials. Senior CBC management officials invited to participate in the meeting included the CBC Director for both radio and TV in Alberta, the Executive Producer of Current Affairs for the CBC in Alberta, the Senior Editor of CBC Radio News in Edmonton, the Director of CBC radio in Edmonton, the Executive Producer of CBC English TV in Edmonton, the Director of CBC English TV in Edmonton, the Senior Editor of CBC Radio News in Calgary, the Director of CBC Radio News in Calgary and the head of CBC-TV in Calgary. It doesn't take much imagination to draw certain pretty unsavoury conclusions about the purpose and intent of such a meeting, especially when neither the Lubicons nor the CBC reporters responsible for covering the Lubicon story were informed of the meeting nor asked for a reaction to Government concerns over Lubicon media coverage. As the senior officials of the CBC of course know, the CBC receives its operating funds from the Government.)
Regarding negotiations Chief Ominayak told Mr. Siddon "I thought things were going fine too until we got a couple of books which threw it all out the window".
Later on June 4th an inter-denominational group of Canadian Church leaders announced that they would re-visiting the Lubicon community of Little Buffalo Lake the following week on a "fact-finding mission". A spokesman for the group said that the Church leaders wanted to see what had happened to the Lubicons since their last visit in 1984 and to then prepare a report for the Lubicon Settlement Commission as well as for the World Council of Churches in Geneva. (Following the 1984 visit the Canadian Church leaders supported a charge by the World Council of Churches that "the Alberta Provincial Government and dozens of multi-national oil companies have taken actions (in the Lubicon area) which could have genocidal consequences".)
The evening of June 4th Mr. Hoover gave New Democrat Member of Parliament Ross Harvey insight into the Mulroney Government's curious definition of what constitutes right and proper behaviour for public officials. During a plane ride from Ottawa to Edmonton Mr. Hoover told Mr. Harvey that Dr. Swain privately admitted threatening to "pull the plug" on negotiations if the Lubicons didn't stop publicly commenting on lack of progress. However, Mr. Hoover asserted, it wasn't Dr. Swain who should be censored for making such threats and then publicly lying about it but Mr. Sachs -- for publicly revealing something supposedly said in anger during a private meeting. Mr. Hoover told Mr. Harvey that "Sachs has permanently damaged his relationship with Departmental officials". He also told Mr. Harvey that "Lubicons settlement proposals are so outrageous that no reasonable person could possibly take them seriously".
Upon arriving in Edmonton Ross Harvey showed his quite different sense of what's right and proper behaviour for public officials by advising Fred Lennarson what Special Assistant Hoover had said. Fred Lennarson told Ross Harvey that Lubicon settlement proposals would shortly be vetted publicly by 12 honest citizens on the Lubicon Settlement Commission and that soon everybody would be able to judge for themselves whether Lubicon settlement proposals are reasonable, as the Lubicons argue, or outrageous as claimed by Hoover and company. (Mr. Hoover was of course at the time of his conversation with Mr. Harvey flying across the country for the Minister's emergency meeting with Chief Ominayak -- a meeting obviously intended to try and deflect the clearly dreaded possibility of a public discussion of Lubicon settlement proposals.)
The morning of June 5th it was widely reported that Mr. Siddon and Mr. Fowler were on their way to Little Buffalo for an "historic meeting" with the Lubicons to get the negotiations back on track. With such short notice it was not expected that reporters would be physically able to get to Little Buffalo to cover the "historic meeting". Much to the chagrin of Messrs. Siddon and Fowler, however, a number of reporters did manage to get to Little Buffalo to cover the "historic meeting".
Messrs. Siddon, Fowler, Wouters and Hoover arrived in Little Buffalo about 1 pm on June 5th. They were served lunch by the Lubicons and then provided with a brief tour of the community. Following lunch Mr. Siddon predictably asked that reporters be barred from the meeting.
After the reporters left Chief Ominayak thanked Mr. Siddon and Mr. Fowler for visiting Little Buffalo Lake and providing an opportunity "to achieve better mutual understanding". Since Mr. Siddon had asked for the meeting, the Chief said, "We would now like to hear what you have to say".
Mr. Siddon said "This is a day long awaited". He said "I think it's important to see the needs and then try to be helpful". He said "That's been my approach over the last two years as Minister". He said "I have traveled across the country meeting with people". He said "We have come to know each other better". He said "We need to re-build the trust which for many reasons has been destroyed over the years.
Mr. Siddon said "There is this feeling that we're not human beings and we don't care". He said "I care". He said "I want to solve problems, not create problems".
Mr. Siddon said "In some way I want to make-up for the injustices of the past and pave the way for the future". He said "As I studied Lubicon history and the background of the problem, I felt that if I could get together with the Chief and Mr. Fowler we could make progress".
Mr. Siddon said "We all have advisors but we have to make the decisions". He said "I therefore decided to do more than rely on advisors".
Mr. Siddon said "I asked to meet with the Chief last November". "Since then", he said, "we have had two or three good meetings".
Mr. Siddon said "It's easy to have a debate when it's all over the newspapers creating the impression that we're fighting with each other". He said "That's not my approach". He said "I'd like to work quietly to solve problems".
"First", Mr. Siddon said, "we need to create a proper reserve and proper community". He said "We need to create a land base and design the kind of community your people need". He said "We should try to get on with it".
Mr. Siddon said "We have done some drilling (to check for sources of potable water) and soil testing and we will be doing some design work so that this community can become a reality". He said "We need to start thinking positively about the kind of social and economic support people need". He said "We don't want to see our progress impeded by controversy".
"Secondly", Mr. Siddon said, "we want creation of the land base agreed with Premier Getty and to correct whatever mistakes were made in the past in the form of compensation". He said "That may have to be mediated or arbitrated but I think we can do that".
"Lastly", Mr. Siddon said, "we are dealing with a major legal question having to do with aboriginal title". He said "I am bound by what the Constitution and laws have to say about that". He said "The way we build that into an agreement may eventually have to be built into an agreement in a legal way".
Mr. Siddon said "If we are all of good will we will be able to solve the situation". He said "I'm not here to negotiate but to see how we can make progress". He said "I hope for a happy day".
Mr. Siddon said "That's why I'm here". He said "I gather that's historic for a Minister -- two Ministers -- to visit". He said "I hope together we can find a solution".
Elder Edward Laboucan said (through a translator) "Welcome". He said "We're glad that you've taken the time to come and see for yourselves". He said "It's been a long time, far too long to achieve a rightful settlement". He said "I hope something will be possible".
Chief Ominayak said "I have a number of remarks to make in response to Mr. Siddon's remarks". "When we met last November 1st", he said, "we tabled our draft settlement agreement with you and you promised a response". He said "We're still waiting for your response".
Mr. Siddon said "I didn't know that we needed to make a response but we will".
Chief Ominayak said "I think if we did get a response to Lubicon settlement proposals we would be able to start moving toward a settlement". He said "Moving toward a settlement won't be possible as long as you keep trying to fit us into your take-it-or-leave-it offer".
Chief Ominayak said "We also need to have the proposed independent cost assessor look at Lubicon settlement proposals as well as at Government settlement proposals". He said "That was the original idea but we've had some trouble achieving agreement on terms of reference". He said "That may be resolved now but we would appreciate your assurance that Lubicon proposals will be included in the independent cost assessor's terms of reference, as well as Government proposals".
Mr. Siddon said "The Government's Lubicon proposal contains the three items discussed". He said "It comes down to a total figure". He said "Federal proposals responded to community construction proposals, vocational training, community funding and it also contained compensation".
Mr. Siddon said "In total magnitude the Government's offer is far larger than any land claim settlement I know in Canada". "But", he said, "the Lubicon request is greater still and far greater than any other land claim that's been done, largely due to the compensation claimed for oil development of traditional Lubicon lands".
Mr. Siddon said "The terms of reference are for a new modern community equivalent to any in the country". He said "The numbers of houses, the size of the school -- that's all tied to numbers and is part of the package we've been discussing". "If your request is for a community equal to any in Canada", he said, "it's there". "However", he said, "if you're asking for more houses than the numbers can justify, or a bigger school than the numbers can justify, we can't do it".
Mr. Siddon said "There's provision for compensation for lost use of lands if reserve lands had been created under Treaty 8 in 1939". He said "That's $25,000 per person plus a proposal development fund plus compensation for things your people haven't enjoyed since the 1930s and 40s".
"If we break these things into these three elements", Mr. Siddon said, "I think it's possible to deal with the community and the fact that the reserve wasn't created but that will mean accepting the terms of Treaty 8". "And the last element of aboriginal land rights and compensation", he said, "something we're not obligated to do -- that becomes a legal question".
Mr. Fowler said "The community would be built while compensation and aboriginal rights is being settled".
Chief Ominayak asked "Does the Government have any document or other evidence that shows the Lubicon people signed Treaty 8 or ever ceded traditional Lubicon lands in any legally or historically recognized way?" He said "The Province has been in here granting all kinds of licences and leases to all kinds of development companies who've been taking billions and billions of dollars worth of Lubicon resources without our permission".
Chief Ominayak said "You speak of supposedly outrageous numbers including Lubicon proposals being eight to ten times richer than the recent Ouje-Bougoumou settlement". He said "We checked that and found that the dollar value of our proposals is well within the parameters of settlement agreements across the country including the Ouje-Bougoumou Cree, who, with a slightly smaller population, settled for a $75 million community construction package compared to a $70 million dollar proposed community construction package for the Lubicons -- with compensation unresolved in both cases".
Chief Ominayak said "Both levels of Canadian Government have benefitted greatly from development of Lubicon lands, extracting billions and billions of dollars worth of Lubicon resources". He said "The proposed Lubicon settlement package is a very good deal for both levels of (Canadian) Government".
Chief Ominayak said "We receive reports that your advisor (Special Assistant Hoover) has been telling people that we will never receive what we seek". "If that's correct", the Chief said, "then there's no need to keep talking".
Chief Ominayak said "Lubicon settlement proposals are the result of long and difficult negotiations with both levels of (Canadian) Government". "What's left", he said, "is what we ended up with after everything that could be taken out was taken out". He said "You've repeatedly promised to respond". He said "We're still awaiting your response".
Chief Ominayak said "I see your people are still trying to fit us into your take-it-or-leave-it offer". He said "Having access to existing programs to which the Lubicon people are entitled anyway is not settlement of unextinguished Lubicon aboriginal land rights".
Mr. Siddon said "You make a very persuasive point Chief". He said "I've directed my officials to see if we can't move forward on building a community". He said "That means programs based on your equivalence to Treaty 8".
Mr. Siddon said "I am sensitive to your concern that your people didn't give up your aboriginal title". "However", he said, "our legal people tell us that legal decisions like Bear Island mean that title was extinguished". He said "It may be a long debate". He said "I can't go to Cabinet and ask for a great deal of money when that debate isn't settled".
Mr. Siddon said "We need to get on with building a community and meeting the social and economic needs". He said "We can get the (reserve) land transferred which I understand is greater than provided by Treaty 8".
Chief Ominayak repeated "Lubicon reserve construction and reserve land proposals are well within what has been provided under Treaty 8 and in other aboriginal land rights settlements". He said "What we're looking for is no more and no less than what's necessary to start rebuilding our society which has been destroyed by your development activity". He said "We would hope that your people would look at our proposals".
Chief Ominayak said "If the independent cost assessors are to look at the issue they must be able to look at all of the proposed items". "If the independent cost assessors agree that the costs are reasonable", the Chief asked, "what will be the position of the Federal Government?"
Mr. Siddon said "It seems to me that if your community comprises 100 families we have the means of determining how many houses, what size school, water, roads". He said "All of those things seem straightforward". "If there's a difference on the number of houses", he said, "our officials can work that out". "But", he said, "we can't build more houses than you have people".
Mr. Siddon repeated "I'm advised that the proposed community is similar to other communities built in Canada". "If you're not satisfied with that", he asked, "I'd like to hear why".
Chief Ominayak said "I'm not talking about building houses for non-existent people but building essential community facilities which are spelled out in detail in the Lubicon draft settlement agreement". He said "As long as you keep shifting the focus away from those proposals and back onto your take-it-or-leave-it offer we won't make any progress".
Mr. Siddon said "We agreed that the days of the take-it-or-leave-it offer are over".
Chief Ominayak said "We agreed but you keep starting at the same point". He said "I hoped through this effort on your part and on the part of the Provincial Government we might make some progress".
Mr. Siddon said "When we started talking last November we weren't talking about anybody's proposal but the need to build a new community to modern standards, the same as with all other communities, and far superior to communities any place else in the world". (In fact following that meeting Mr. Siddon publicly acknowledged receipt of the Lubicon proposals and said that he would be looking at them "very, very carefully". For details on the meeting see mail-out dated November 16, 1991.)
"Then", Mr. Siddon said, "we deal with the land base and some form of compensation". He said "We've agreed on a process to make that possible".
"The third issue", Mr. Siddon said, "is a difficult one". He said "I can't ask Cabinet to break all of the laws and rules on your account".
Chief Ominayak said "We're not asking you to break all the laws and rules". He said "We're asking you to apply the same laws and rules you've applied to others historically". He said "The question is how long have other communities been receiving benefits while we were receiving none."
Chief Ominayak repeated "Our goal is to rebuild our society which has been destroyed for the great benefit of your society". He said "If we're here to see how we can fix this long-standing injustice we have something to talk about". "If all you want to talk about is building another welfare community", he said, "then we have nothing to talk about".
Mr. Siddon said "It wouldn't help to have a house or a school twice as big as necessary". He said "We are talking about training and some compensation and mediation on a larger amount".
Mr. Siddon said "If a significant amount of financial assistance is available your people need to look at the economic development opportunities so that they have some future".
Chief Ominayak said "I agree in general but not on specifics". He said "Your offer doesn't provide what we need to take advantage of the economic development opportunities in a vastly changed world not of our making".
Chief Ominayak said "We can't agree to give up our aboriginal land rights in order to mediate compensation based on those aboriginal land rights". "In the past", the Chief said, "we have agreed to put the question of defining the kind of rights aside to see if we could achieve agreement on the elements of a settlement including compensation". He asked "If we cede our rights first, how can we then negotiate a settlement based on those rights?"
Chief Ominayak said "Premier Getty proposed a three person independent tribunal, with you selecting one person, us selecting one person and the first two selecting a third to decide the questions which we can't settle through negotiations". He said "That might respond to the concerns of your legal people". He said "I'm sure that Premier Getty wouldn't make a proposal which isn't consistent with Canadian law".
Mr. Siddon said "If we agree to go back to the reserve that was promised and some benefits as provided by Treaty 8, if there's an obligation tied to lost programs, benefits and services -- that can be mediated but that requires an acceptance of Treaty 8". "The only other way", he said, "is compensation under aboriginal title but that has to be settled legally".
Mr. Siddon said "I think it might be possible to find the right words through negotiation but in the final analysis you ask me to disregard the law and I can't do that".
Chief Ominayak said "Both levels of Canadian Government bend and twist and break the law as they see fit". He said "We wouldn't be in this predicament if Canadian Government respected its own laws". "However", he said, "we're now in a position where we need a fair and just settlement and the question is how do we achieve that".
Mr. Siddon said "I'm prepared to deal with rights under Treaty 8 in the fullest and fairest amount but I can't break the law". He said "The Federal Government transferred the land to the Province in 1930". He said "The law is that they own it".
Chief Ominayak repeated "We seek a fair and just settlement without bending or breaking any law but we need to understand what we mean when we speak of a process to accomplish that". He said "We won't confine ourselves to a treaty signed nearly 100 years ago by others, which we never signed and which clearly doesn't even reflect what they agreed at that time". He said "If either level of Canadian Government can provide a document or any proof that the Lubicon people ceded their aboriginal land rights in any legally or historically recognized way we'll change our position".
Mr. Siddon said "I thought we were making good progress on building a community and creating a reserve". "My understanding", he said, "was that we were very close a month ago". "That's why I don't understand", he said, "the recent public statements that negotiations aren't going anywhere".
Chief Ominayak said "I thought that we were going somewhere too until we received the first and second bibles".
Mr. Siddon asked "What second bible?"
Mr. Wouters said "A community construction package; an information package on what programs are available; we're proceeding with soil and water testing and Lubicon negotiators wanted to come back and talk about some other items like the ice-skating rink and the swimming pool".
Chief Ominayak asked Fred Lennarson to "describe the first and second bibles".
Fred Lennarson said "Federal settlement proposals book number one tabled on March 12th of this year is largely a verbatim reiteration of the 1989 so-called take-it-or-leave-it settlement offer which even Premier Getty publicly described as deficient in its provisions for supposedly enabling the Lubicon people to once again achieve economic self-sufficiency". He said "Federal settlement proposals book number two tabled on May 6th of this year is essentially book number one plus over a hundred pages of standard Government program information sheets on programs available to Indians in Canada, treaty and non-treaty alike".
Mr. Lennarson said "Overall the numbers in books one and two are revised upward somewhat from the take-it-or-leave-it offer but not enough to take into account the impact of inflation from 1988 to 1992". "The end result", Mr. Lennarson said, "is that the total value of current Federal proposals in real dollars is actually significantly less than the so-called take-it-or-leave-it offer -- to the tune of an estimated 8 to 10 million dollars less".
"The basic difference between Lubicon proposals and Federal Government proposals", Mr. Lennarson said, "isn't that the Lubicons are proposing to build houses for non-existent people, but rather that Lubicon proposals represent an integrated, comprehensive approach intended to enable the Lubicon people to once again achieve social, political and economic self-sufficiency, while Federal Government proposals represent an approach which would provide the Lubicon people with housing and basic services but makes no credible provision for the Lubicon people to re-build a self-sufficient economy or once again manage their own affairs".
"Items missing in the Federal Government's proposals", Mr. Lennarson said, "include a natural gas utility, a combined community improvement shop/vocational training centre, basic commercial enterprises, development of reserve land for agricultural purposes, a community hall, a community recreation centre, an old people's home, a day care facility, local communications capability and a combination fire hall/police station/court house and lock-up".
"Regarding the so-called vocational training program referred to by Mr. Siddon", Mr. Lennarson said, "book number two includes a letter from Mr. Wouters to Mr. Sachs indicating that the Province is considering a proposal from an unknown source to contribute up to a million dollars to possibly pay for adding a typical industrial arts shop to the proposed community high school". He said "Mr. Wouters told me that a creative architect should be able to transform this 200 square metre typical high school industrial arts shop into something pretty close to what the Lubicons want".
Mr. Lennarson said "The Lubicons have proposed a 2,500 square metre combined community improvement shop/vocational training centre where they could learn such things as heavy equipment operation and maintenance while actually maintaining community-owned road graders and four wheel drive tractors, and things like carpentry while actually prefabricating elements of their community construction program such as residential housing roof trusses". He said that he told Mr. Wouters that "it would be quite an architectural feat to transform a typical 200 metre high school wood-working shop and two car automotive shop into the 2,500 square metre combined community improvement shop/vocational training centre envisioned by the Lubicons". He pointed out that "The specifications for the proposed community shop/vocational training centre envisioned by the Lubicons weren't simply pulled out of the air but were provided to the Lubicons by the Provincial Advanced Education Department -- the people responsible for providing such vocational training in Alberta -- given the types of training the Lubicons are proposing to conduct".
Regarding supposed compensation for lost programs, benefits and services", Mr. Lennarson said, "the Federal Government's proposal would provide $25,000 per capita for each person whose ancestors were supposedly not counted elsewhere as having received the so-called economic development benefits of Treaty 8". "This is a formula", he said, "which could hypothetically yield anywhere from near zero up to a maximum of about $12 1/2 million towards some $23 million in basic Lubicon economic development proposals".
"It's interesting to compare this new Federal Government approach to calculating the value of lost programs, benefits and services", Mr. Lennarson said, "to the approach discussed in 1985 with earlier Lubicon Ministerial appointee the Honourable E. Davie Fulton, which", he said, "without bending or breaking any laws, and without addressing the question of treaty versus aboriginal rights, would generate in the range of $110 to $167 million". "This new approach to calculating the value of lost programs, benefits and services", Mr. Lennarson said, "thus represents another significant regression from earlier discussions".
Mr. Siddon said "Our approach to these kinds of things is to make available (reserve) land and a new community and funds which the Lubicons can use to design their own economic development, plus to provide access to other Federal programs such as the Pathways to Success Program and the Aboriginal Economic Development Program".
Mr. Siddon said "I believe strongly in education and training but it's not a matter of us telling you what's good for you".
"If Mr. Lennarson says there's not enough money", Mr. Siddon said, "there are a number of programs to which the Lubicons can apply to make it bigger".
Mr. Siddon said "I thought Mr. Wouters and Mr. Sachs were the negotiators". He said "I don't know where Mr. Lennarson gets off saying no progress is being made". He said "It's your right to decide how you want to proceed, how you want to spend your money, what programs you want to apply for".
Mr. Siddon said "If Mr. Sachs and Mr. Wouters agree with what Mr. Lennarson says I'll be surprised".
Chief Ominayak asked Bob Sachs to comment.
Bob Sachs said "Back in February we looked at a time frame which has long since passed". He said "One thing is to make sure there is a full time, dedicated group of negotiators".
Mr. Sachs said "We've fallen behind the time frame the Minister and the Chief talked about". He said "This has caused me personally a great deal of frustration".
Mr. Sachs said "I want to proceed as fast as possible on the technical stuff". He said "I want to proceed in an accelerated time frame and that hasn't taken place".
Mr. Wouters offered "I can commit full time people to speed things up". He said "We can set some deadlines".
Mr. Siddon said "One of the things that didn't happen is that we haven't had a (Ministers and Chief) meeting since February". He said "I have a time frame in mind too". He said "There will be an election in the next year". He said "I want a solution by then".
Mr. Siddon said "I want to take to Cabinet in September a settlement proposal". He said "I hope to sign a memorandum of understanding in August that I can take to Cabinet, that Mr. Fowler can take to the Provincial Government and that Chief Ominayak can take to the Lubicon people".
Mr. Siddon said "I'm not interested in playing to the media". He said "I can do that just as effectively as you can but I'm not interested in playing to the media". He said "I'm interested in solving problems".
Mr. Siddon repeated "I'd like to have a memorandum of understanding in August, go to Cabinet in September and start construction in the spring".
Chief Ominayak said "We can sign the Lubicon draft settlement agreement right now and save time". He said "It's already drafted in agreement form".
Mr. Fowler said "Mr. Siddon has explained that we can't break the laws of the land". He said "We still need to find a process". He said "I believe in my heart that we can do that". He said "The Lubicons may not get everything they want, and the two Governments may give more than they think they have to, but somehow, someway we have to find a way to give the Lubicons what they need".
Mr. Fowler said "We can't do it in one or two years". He said "That's why we have programs in place to help over time".
Mr. Fowler repeated "We have to get a process in place".
Chief Ominayak said "We need a process which will enable the Lubicon people to achieve a fair and just settlement".
Mr. Siddon said "I want to make it clearly understood that I have no hesitation to talk to the press". "But", he said, "my recollection is that we weren't going to negotiate in the press". He said "We had the understanding that we would refrain from negotiating in the press".
Mr. Siddon said "We have to find a solution". He said "I suggest that we meet again at the end of June". He repeated "I hope to sign a memorandum of agreement at the end of August".
Chief Ominayak said "In closing, as far as the media is concerned, I wish you would keep in mind last November when you asked me for a private, confidential, off-the-record meeting with no media involved or informed and then met with the Editorial Board of the Edmonton Journal immediately before our meeting, told them about our meeting, implied falsely that I'd requested the meeting, told them that the take-it-or-leave-it offer wouldn't be changed except to be reduced to take into account the Woodland Cree and so on".
Mr. Siddon said "I was only trying to help the people of Edmonton hear the other side of the story". He said "It hasn't happened since".
Chief Ominayak said "Mr. Wouters has since had a private, confidential meeting with the senior management of the CBC".
Mr. Siddon said "I can guarantee that won't happen again".
Chief Ominayak asked again for a detailed response to the Lubicon draft settlement agreement.
Mr. Siddon said "We will provide it but we won't necessarily agree with you".
Chief Ominayak asked again for assurance that Lubicon settlement items will be included in the terms of reference of the independent cost assessor.
Mr. Siddon said "We can include them but we won't necessarily agree with what the independent cost assessor says".
Mr. Siddon said "Under the new funding agreements, the Chief and Council decide how they want to spend money".
Chief Ominayak said "That's exactly what we're doing". He said "That's why we prepared and presented our draft settlement agreement".
Mr. Siddon said "The figure we've worked up is for a fully modern community at about $30 to $35 million". He repeated "It will be the equivalent of any in Canada". He said "If you want to spend the money in different ways that's your decision".
Chief Ominayak said "We can't make $200 million out of $35 million".
Mr. Siddon said "I'm only talking about community construction".
Chief Ominayak asked Mr. Fowler about previous Provincial commitments.
Mr. Fowler said "Any commitment made by the Province still stands".
Chief Ominayak said "The Premier told me $10 million which has since shrunk to $5 million".
Mr. Fowler said "My understanding was $5 million". "But", he said, "I will discuss it with Premier Getty". He said "The Premier has said many times that he's totally bound by whatever agreement he made".
Chief Ominayak said "Thank you for coming but I don't know if we're any further ahead".
Mr. Siddon said "We've heard each other".
Mr. Fowler said "Mr. Siddon has promised you a detailed reaction". He said "I think you have a right to it". He said "We won't necessarily agree".
Mr. Fowler said "I also would like a commitment to meet again in four weeks".
Mr. Siddon proposed that Mr. Wouters and Mr. Sachs get together for a follow-up meeting.
Mr. Siddon thanked the Lubicons for agreeing to meet him and said "I promise the work will continue". He then passed out "friendship pins" to the Lubicon Council explaining that he had passed them out to people across Canada.
On June 11th Member of Parliament Ross Harvey asked Mr. Siddon's Parliamentary Secretary Ross Reid about Dr. Swain's meeting with the Austrian Ambassador and "whether or not the government is sufficiently concerned with the impact of the Lubicon situation on Canada's international reputation to undertake at the very least to provide the Lubicon people with a detailed point by point response to the Band's draft settlement proposal".
Mr. Reid said "The Minister met on June 5 with Chief Ominayak and they discussed a number of things". He said "The most important thing is the mutual commitment by the Lubicon and by the government to seek a successful, fair and appropriate negotiation and resolution of this dispute".
"Both sides have committed", Mr. Reid said, "first, to pursuing that result and second, they have both committed not to negotiate in public". "Certainly for me to take a step in that direction", Mr. Reid said, "would not serve the interests at all of a share (sic)".
Also on June 11th the Canadian Church leaders made their earlier announced return visit to Little Buffalo Lake. The next day the Church leaders held a press conference on their visit in which they decried lack of a settlement, charged that lack of settlement was causing "a whole way of life and culture (to be) destroyed", encouraged the Federal Government to cooperate with the Lubicon Settlement Commission and made "a renewed appeal for a Lubicon settlement".
In their comments the Church leaders described the plight of the Lubicon people as "a disgrace as well as a tragedy". They said "people are dying, individually and collectively". They said "It is clear that something must give if this situation is not to degenerate further". They said "A settlement is needed now; it cannot wait". They made clear that they "do not expect the Lubicon people to carry this struggle alone".
On June 17th Commission Co-Chair Jacques Johnson advised Chief Ominayak that both Mr. Siddon and Mr. Fowler had declined to appear before the Commission. Ministerial Special Assistant Hoover told Father Johnson that Mr. Siddon couldn't appear because of a supposed agreement with the Chief "not to negotiate in public". Mr. Fowler told Father Johnson that he had no intention of appearing before the "pseudo" Lubicon Settlement Commission because Ray Martin had no power to establish such a Commission, that the Commission had no power to do anything and that "anybody can set up a Commission like that". Father Johnson asked for "any comments" the Chief might have to the position being taken by the two Ministers.
Chief Ominayak wrote Father Johnson denying the existence of any agreement which would prevent either Mr. Siddon or Mr. Fowler from appearing before the Commission, indicating that as far as he knew there's nothing in the parliamentary rules or in law which would prohibit the Leader of the Official Opposition from establishing a Citizens Commission with exactly the same powers to assess and recommend as might be held by a similar Commission established by the Government, and saying "Moreover the Lubicon people would welcome Mr. Fowler and Mr. Siddon appearing before the Lubicon Settlement Commission and answering questions about their respective Lubicon settlement offers, which", he said, "they have publicly described many times as 'generous', and about Lubicon settlement proposals, which", he said, "they have publicly described many times as 'unreasonable'". "Hopefully", the Chief wrote, "a full public vetting of Lubicon settlement proposals and Government settlement offers will let people decide for themselves who's being 'generous' and who's being 'unreasonable' ".
On June 18th Ross Harvey made a statement on the Church Leaders June 11th Lubicon visit to the Canadian House of Commons. Mr. Harvey pointed out that it was a visit by these same Church Leaders eight years ago "that first drew the attention of the world to the destruction of the Lubicon people's traditional way of life and the ongoing refusal of Canadian Government's to deal fairly with them".
"If anything", Mr. Harvey said, the Church leaders found that "things have become worse and government intransigence more calamitous". He said "Death and disease run rampant". He said "The very spirit of the (Lubicon) people is being ground to dust".
Mr. Harvey said "This ugly stain on Canada's record must be removed". He said "The Canadian government must begin real negotiations with the Lubicon Nation, in good faith and starting with a detailed point-by-point response to the (Lubicon draft settlement agreement).
On June 19th Father Johnson received a faxed letter from Mr. Siddon in which Mr. Siddon claimed "In past discussions I was asked by Chief Ominayak not to comment publicly on any aspect of the negotiations". "During my recent visit to Little Buffalo", Mr. Siddon claimed, "I reaffirmed this pledge with the Chief's approval".
Mr. Siddon told Father Johnson "I am sure you realize that as a Minister of the Crown I am in no position to break my promise to Chief Ominayak". He said "As the Commission of Review is very much a public forum and as substantive negotiations are at a very delicate stage, I am sure you will appreciate the necessity of honouring my commitment to Chief Ominayak". "It is for these reasons", Mr. Siddon concluded, "that I must respectfully decline your invitation to appear before the Commission at this time".
Asked for his reaction to Mr. Siddon's June 19th letter Chief Ominayak only shook his head sadly. It's always been very tough for the Lubicons to do business with people whom the Chief once described as sitting across the table from you and lying just like they were telling the truth.
There is of course no agreement of the kind described by Mr. Siddon although the propensity of successive Federal Government representatives to both insist upon and then breach such agreements is well known. The only discussion between the Chief and the Minister on what Mr. Siddon inaccurately characterizes as "negotiating in public", as graphically illustrated by the exchanges during the June 5th meeting, consisted of the Minister repeatedly suggesting that there should be no public comment, and the Chief pointing out that Federal representatives don't respect their own position on this issue.
Copies of related correspondence and media coverage are attached.
It would be helpful if people would write Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney demanding that he instruct his Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon to provide the repeatedly promised a point-by-point reaction to Lubicon settlement proposals, without which a settlement of Lubicon land rights is inconceivable, and also to instruct Mr. Siddon to appear before the Lubicon Settlement Commission and answer questions about the Federal positions and settlement proposals, since without such public scrutiny of the process a settlement is also inconceivable.
It would additionally be helpful if people would write Alberta Premier Don Getty demanding that he instruct his Native Affairs Minister Dick Fowler to appear before the Lubicon Settlement Commission and answer questions about the Provincial Government's position on settlement issues and proposals, since otherwise Federal representatives will simply employ the time-honoured tactic of blaming the Province for lack of settlement.
It would additionally be helpful if people would send the Lubicon Settlement Commission copies of their letters to the Prime Minister and the Premier, as well as to let the Commission know of their views on the continuing Lubicon tragedy and the work of the Commission.
It also wouldn't hurt to write Ray Martin a letter commending him for trying to help facilitate a settlement. Political leaders who do the right and honourable thing should be acknowledged and encouraged.
Letters to the Prime Minister should be addressed to:
Prime Minister Brian Mulroney
Government of Canada
Letters to the Premier should be addressed to:
The Hon. Don Getty
Premier, Government of Alberta
Letters to the Lubicon Settlement Commission should be addressed to:
Fr. Jacques Johnson, OMI
Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review
10336 - 114 Street
Edmonton, AB T5K 1S3
Letters to Ray Martin should be addressed to:
The Hon. R. Martin
Leader of the Official Opposition
Attachment #1: April 07, 1992, Letter from Daishowa Vice-President Tom Hamaoka to Mr. Peter A. Mertens, Executive Vice-President, Country Style Donuts
Dear Mr. Mertens:
Further to your letter of March 26, 1992, we are also very concerned about Country Style Donuts being drawn into the Lubicon issue and have been doing everything in our power to prevent this from happening.
Since my February 7th letter, there has been some real progress. Federal and Provincial government officials have been meeting regularly with the Lubicon representatives since the middle of February and we understand that negotiations are going well. In fact, our sources indicate that the Lubicons are very encouraged with the proposals tabled to date and that there is expectation of a settlement sometime this year.
Given that these talks have been going so well and that there is a good chance of an agreement, Daishowa is now seeking every method to extend the moratorium on logging in the areas of concern to the Lubicons.
We hope that this new position is satisfactory to your company and that you will continue as one of our valued customers.
I look forward to your reply and in the meantime, will keep you informed of any progress in this matter.
Attachment #2: Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (6:30 A.M.), Friday, May 15, 1992
CBC Radio: It's hard to tell where Lubicon land claim talks are headed. Depending on who is doing the talking, there are different versions of how negotiations are going. Last week, the Federal Minister of Indian Affairs said they were making good progress. But the Lubicons are saying there is no noticeable progress. A Band advisor, Fred Lennarson, says Ottawa is playing a public relations game.
Fred Lennarson, Lubicon Advisor: The only way that I can interpret it -- given what's actually going on at the table -- is that Mr. Siddon is making statements like this in response to people criticizing him for not doing anything. Basically what he says is "We're making progress, we're at the table, I can't talk about it, of course, but everything's going fine, you needn't worry about."
CBC: Federal officials promised the Lubicon Cree a reserve in 1939. The two sides are trying to work out details of a land claim settlement. The latest round of secret talks started in mid-February.
Attachment #3: Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (7:30 A.M.), Friday, May 15, 1992
CBC Radio: Confusion surrounds the status of land claim talks between Ottawa and the Lubicon Cree Indians of northern Alberta. Both sides have been holding private meetings since mid-February. The Government says it's making "good progress". But the Indians tell a different story. Byron Christopher explains.
Byron Christopher, CBC: Tom Siddon, the Federal Minister of Indian Affairs, was in Alberta last week and he told reporters they were making "good progress" in land claim talks with the Lubicon Indians. An advisor with the Lubicon Indians does not agree. Fred Lennarson says there is no noticeable progress. Even so, Lennarson says, the Lubicons will continue to negotiate.
Fred Lennarson, Lubicon Advisor: The reasons the Lubicons are staying at the table is because they're hoping progress will be made. But so far what the Federal Government has put on the table is essentially no different than what they put on the table in January of 1989.
Christopher: The Lubicon Indians are involved in a land ownership dispute with the Federal Government. The Lubicons, who have never signed a Treaty, claim they own a big chunk of land east of Peace River, land that is rich in natural resources. The Government maintains the land belongs to the Crown. Byron Christopher, Edmonton.
Attachment #4: Transcript of CKUA Radio News Broadcast (12:00 Noon) Wednesday, May 20, 1992
CKUA Radio: A representative of the Lubicon Indians says it's becoming clear that Ottawa's using the current round of negotiations as a stalling tactic. Fred Lennarson says that in the months the talks have been going on, Federal officials have still not given a detailed response to Lubicon proposals and are sticking to their "take-it-or-leave-it" offer of January 1989. Lennarson says it seems Ottawa just wants to string out the process until the Lubicons give up. But Lennarson says it's tough for the Lubicons to walk away from the non-productive talks.
Fred Lennarson, Lubicon Advisor: It's a very tough position for the Lubicons. Clearly there will be no settlement unless there are negotiations. But my personal conclusion -- and I'll represent it as such -- is that the Government is simply using the facade of negotiations as a tactic in order to buy time while the Lubicon society continues going down the drain.
CKUA: Lennarson says there will be some kind of development in the next few days, with supporters of the Lubicons planning to take action on their behalf to shake things up but he wouldn't elaborate.
Attachment #5: May 21, 1992, News Release by Ray Martin, Alberta New Democrat Leader of the Opposition
LUBICON COMMISSION LAUNCHED
Ray Martin, MLA
Leader of the New Democrat Opposition
Ray Martin, leader of the Official Opposition, today announced a Commission of Review of the negotiations between the federal, provincial and the Lubicon Lake Indians.
"This is an independent, non-partisan Commission that I was asked to organize by the Lubicons," Martin said. "Negotiations on this issue have been stalled since 1989, so it is time to try to break the impasse."
The 11 member Commission will assess the relative merits of the latest proposals on the negotiating table.
"I do not expect this Commission to settle the Lubicon issue," Martin said. "But I do expect the work of the Commission to provide a new start for Negotiations."
Members of the Commission are participating on their own time and with their own resources or the resources of their organizations.
For more information:
Attachment #6: May 21, 1992, News Release by the Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review
The Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review met for the first time on May 20, 1992.
"As a group of concerned and interested citizens of Canada, we are looking for a way to bring this problem to an end," Father Jacques Johnson, Provincial Superior of the Missionary Oblates, and co-chair of the Commission, said at a press conference here.
"All members of the Commission have an interest or concern in this situation and are bringing their diverse backgrounds to search for ways to move the negotiating process along," Father Johnson said.
"We are looking for input from all participants in the process so that sufficient good will can be generated to allow meaningful negotiations to resume."
Father Johnson stressed that the commission is independent of any political parties and is not prejudging motives of any of the parties to the negotiations.
"Over the course of the next two months, we hope to inform the public through open hearings with all the parties to the negotiations," Johnson said.
A list of the members of the Commission is attached.
For more information:
Father Jacques Johnson
LUBICON SETTLEMENT COMMISSION OF REVIEW TERMS OF REFERENCE
Whereas negotiations between the federal government and the Lubicon Lake Indians have been stalled without progress since January 1989;
And whereas talks between the Lubicon Lake Indians and the provincial government of Alberta collapsed in June of 1990;
And whereas the public interest requires an independent, objective review of both the federal government proposal and the Lubicon Lake Indian proposal for settlement of Lubicon Lake land rights;
And whereas the federal government's most recent offer of March 1992 has not advanced the negotiations;
And whereas because of the lack of progress Lubicon society continues to deteriorate at an alarming rate;
Now therefore, this Commission of Review that has been convened will have responsibility to investigate, compare, assess and report publicly on:
The report of the Commission shall be completed and released before the July 31, 1992.
Jennifer Klimek, co-chair, environmental lawyer, partner in Karoles, Mintz, Majeski, Edmonton. Ms. Klimek has practices law for seven years; prior to this, she nursed for seven years in Alberta and Northwest Territories.
Father Jacques Johnson, o.m.i., co-chair, Provincial Superior of Missionary Oblates, Grandin Province, Edmonton. Missionary among Northern Alberta native peoples, Provincial Superior of 145 missionaries working in Alberta and Northwest Territories.
Wilfred Barranoik, president and general manager Northtown Paint and Wallcoverings Centres, past president Alberta Chamber of Commerce, Edmonton.
Michael Asch, professor of anthropology, University of Alberta. Professor Asch worked on the Dene claim in Northwest Territories and testified before the MacKenzie Valley Pipeline Commission. Author of Home and Native Land. Edmonton.
Regena Crowchild, president, Indian Association of Alberta, member of the Sarcee Nation, resides at Enoch Reserve.
Menno Wiebe, Director: Native Concerns, Mennonite Central Committee (Canada), Winnipeg. Mr. Wiebe is a member of the Aboriginal Rights Council (Project North).
Don Aitken, president, Alberta Federation of Labour, Edmonton.
Normand Boucher, president, Boucher Bros. Lumber Ltd., Nampa. The Boucher Brother's mill has operated for 35 years in the Peace country.
Theresa McBean, petroleum industry consulting engineer, Calgary. Ms. McBean's engineering experience includes 14 years with majors, minors and consulting engineers both domestically and internationally. She is a member of the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta.
Colleen McCrory, Valhalla Society, New Denver, British Columbia. Ms. McCrory has worked at the grassroots level, organizing and educating the public on conservation issues for 17 years. Recipient of the Governor General's Award, 1983, Equinox Award, 1989, Global 500 Award and the Goldman Environmental Prize (1992), which is awarded to one individual on each continent.
Ms. McCrory is sharing her duties as co-commissioner with:
Sandy Day, owner earthcycle paper corp., co-owner, You Make a Difference Company, High River. Member of advisory board, Canada Trust's "Friends of the Environment Foundation", founding member, Foothills Recycling Society and Recycling Council of Alberta.
John G. MacMillan, President, MacMillan Construction Northern Ltd., Peace River. Mr. MacMillan is a third generation resident of the Peace Country. His company has provided seismic and oilfield construction services for 43 years.
Attachment #7: Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (5:30 P.M.) Thursday, May 21, 1992
Krysia Jarmicka, CBC News: The Alberta New Democrats have announced the formation of a Commission to help settle the land claim by the Lubicon Indians. The 11 member Commission includes the President of the Indian Association of Alberta, the head of the Alberta Federation of Labour, the President of a sawmill and an engineer with the oil industry. The Commission says it will hold public hearings over the next two months before writing a report.
Attachment #8: Transcript of CFRN TV News Broadcast (6:00 P.M.) Thursday, May 21, 1992
Daryl McIntyre, CFRN: There's another attempt to resolve the decades-old impasse between the Lubicon Indians of northern Alberta and the Federal Government. Land claim negotiations have stalled and mediation efforts by the Alberta Government have made little headway. That's why the Lubicons have asked Opposition Leader Ray Martin to form an independent commission to assess the various proposals on the table. The New Democrats formed the 11-member panel but Martin says that this group will be strictly non-partisan.
The Hon. Ray Martin, Leader, Official Opposition, Alberta: In fact there're people from different political parties on this Commission, and this is the last I will have to do with the Commission. They will be on their own. I want to stress they're doing it on their own time and their own resources.
McIntyre: The panel is made up of academics, labour and business leaders, and a Catholic missionary. They plan to complete the report on the state of land claim negotiations by the end of July.
Attachment #9: May 22, 1992, Edmonton Journal
AD HOC PANEL STUDIES LUBICON LAND DISPUTE
Committee hopes to spur stalled talks
Journal Staff Writer
An unofficial committee drawn from the ranks of the clergy, academics, lawyers, labor leaders, environmentalists and loggers has entered the Lubicon Cree land claim dispute.
Introduced at a news conference Thursday by New Democrat leader Ray Martin, the 12-member panel is to report by July 31 on its assessment of government offers and Lubicon demands.
"Our goal is to bring both sides together on some common ground," said panel member Don Aitken, Alberta Federation of Labour president.
Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak welcomed the creation of the committee and said the band will present its position at public sessions, but it is not yet clear if the governments of Ottawa and Alberta will participate.
Ominayak, federal Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon and Dick Fowler, Alberta minister responsible for native affairs, revived land claim negotiations last November.
A spokesman for Fowler's office said that two months ago the talks were turned over to technical advisers, who are assessing the Lubicon demand -- valued at $170 million.
Ottawa's last offer was $45 million and 246 square km., but Siddon has said that offer might be reduced because of a $47.5 million settlement last year with the Woodland Cree, whose band list includes some former Lubicons.
A potential settlement with the Loon River Cree, another northern band with some former Lubicon members, could also affect the 1989 offer to the Lubicon.
Federal and provincial officials met for the first time earlier this week with the Loon River band, but a settlement of their claim is at least two years away.
Although some committee members have close ties to the New Democrats, Martin said "I want to stress that this is an independent, non-partisan commission that I was asked to organize by the Lubicon people to break the impasse."
Father Jacques Johnson, provincial superior of the missionary Oblates, and co-chair of the commission, said "We have to bring about a conclusion to this situation of Lubicons living in a state of growing deterioration because of a lack of just settlement."
"There is very strong public support for any action that will lead to a resolution," said commissioner Menno Wiebe, a member of the Mennonite Central Committee.
Other members of the panel are Edmonton lawyer Jennifer Klimek; William Barranoik, a past president of the Alberta Chamber of Commerce; Michael Asch, a University of Alberta anthropologist; Regena Crowchild, president of the Indian Association of Alberta; Normand Boucher, Nampa logging company owner; Theresa McBean, a Calgary engineer; environmentalists Colleen McCrory and Sandy Day; and John MacMillan, a Peace River oil-field construction company owner.
Attachment #10: Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (6:30 A.M.) Friday, May 22, 1992
Phil Henry, CBC: The Lubicon Indians of northern Alberta are keeping their fingers crossed that a new Commission announced yesterday will help get their land claim settled. Provincial New Democrats set up the Commission which plans to hold public hearings over the next two months then make recommendations on how to settle the dispute. Some members of the Commission are in the oil business and logging. The Chief of the Lubicon Indians says that doesn't bother him. Bernard Ominayak says because industry is now in the disputed territory, it should be part of the solution.
Chief Bernard Ominayak, Lubicon Lake Indian Nation: It's in the best interests of all people concerned -- especially in northern Alberta where a lot of leases have been issued by the Alberta Government to the logging companies and also to oil companies.
Henry: The Lubicon Cree of northern Alberta have been trying to get a reserve since 1939.
Attachment #11: Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (4:30 P.M.) Friday, May 22, 1992
Krysia Jarmicka, CBC News: The Federal Government is refusing to say anything about a Commission set up by the Alberta New Democrats to try and settle the Lubicon land claim. The 12-member group was announced yesterday. It plans to make recommendations to the Federal and Provincial Governments. Wayne Hanna with Indian and Northern Affairs won't comment on the Commission. He says the Department doesn't want to jeopardize sensitive discussions taking place now. Federal and Provincial officials have been negotiating with Band lawyers since mid-February.
Attachment #12: May 28, 1992, Edmonton Sun
LAND CLAIM DELAYS 'FRUSTRATE' LUBICONS
Chief accuses federal, provincial governments of 'fooling around'
By David Bray
The federal and Alberta governments are "fooling around" in efforts to settle the 50-year-old Lubicon Lake band land claims, says Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak.
"It's getting pretty frustrating," Ominayak said in Edmonton yesterday. "We can't spend any more time sitting around having coffee."
He was speaking to reporters after joining an Alberta Federation of Labour rally at the legislature.
About 300 union, student, seniors and aboriginal representatives took part in the rally as part of the AFL's annual convention.
Ominayak told reporters government officials are to blame for the lack of progress in talks over the band's claim to land centered on Little Buffalo, 345 km northwest of Edmonton.
Talks with Ottawa have been stalled since 1989. Negotiations with Alberta collapsed in June 1990.
The federal government has offered the Lubicon Cree $45 million and 246 sq. km of territory. The band wants $167 million, a demand Ottawa has said is too high.
Premier Don Getty, a strong backer of the Lubicons, has said the federal offer isn't enough to ensure the 500-member band's future economic development.
Ominayak said yesterday federal and provincial ministers have agreed on a process to settle the land claim but nothing is happening.
"They turned it over to their people and their people do everything in their power to take it apart," he said.
"Either they put somebody in charge who can do the job or the minister himself does it. Any more of this fooling around or take-it-or-leave-it offers aren't going to go (anywhere)."
Ominayak said he's still optimistic a settlement can be worked out on the band's claim which dates back to 1939.
Alberta New Democrats launched an 11-member commission last week to study the talks in a bid to get negotiations moving. A report is expected by July 31.
Alberta's native affairs minister Dick Fowler wasn't available for comment yesterday.
Attachment #13: May 31, 1992, Edmonton Sunday Sun
LUBICON HEARINGS BEGIN
Lubicon Lake band chief Bernard Ominayak is slated to head a parade of witnesses tomorrow as public hearings begin in Edmonton on the band's 50-year-old land claims.
The hearings, called by the Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review, are scheduled to run tomorrow and Tuesday at St. Joseph's Parish Hall, 11355 Jasper Avenue.
Alberta New Democrat leader Ray Martin set up the committee this month to assess the Lubicon claims in a bid to get the stalled negotiations moving again. The commission is expected to release its report by July 31.
The 500-member band last year rejected a federal government of $45 million and 246 sq. km of land centred on Little Buffalo, about 345 km northwest of Edmonton. The band is seeking $167 million, a demand Ottawa has said is excessive. Talks with Ottawa have been stalled since 1989. Negotiations with Alberta collapsed in 1990.
Attachment #14: Transcript of CFRN Television News Broadcast (11:30 P.M.) Monday, June 01, 1992
Chris O'Brien, CFRN: The land claim dispute between Alberta's Lubicon Indian Band and the federal and provincial governments moved one step closer to being resolved today. The Lubicon claim is the subject of a special Commission hearing this week in Edmonton. Earlier today the Commission heard the Natives' concerns. Next they'll hear officials from both levels of government. A final report containing various recommendations is expected by the end of next month.
Attachment #15: Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (6:30 A.M.) Tuesday, June 2, 1992
Phil Henry, CBC: A new Commission has begun looking into the Lubicon Lake Indian land claim dispute. The Commission was set up by Alberta's New Democrats last month. It's intended to be a non-partisan citizens group which will make recommendations on how to bring the sides together. The Lubicon Cree of northern Alberta have been trying to settle their land claim for more than 50 years. Yesterday the Commission began public hearings in Edmonton, but the Lubicons were the only ones there to answer questions. Jennifer Klimek, a co-chair of the Commission, says her job will be harder if Ottawa doesn't take part in the process.
Jennifer Klimek, Commission Member: We'll have to look at what information we have and assess it in light of the written proposals. It would certainly be beneficial to hear their explanation of it, to be able to ask them why and how come these things are in there. But if they don't show up I guess we won't have that opportunity.
Henry: Klimek says the Commission has invited the federal government to take part in the hearings but so far there's been no response from Ottawa.
Attachment #16: June 02, 1992, Edmonton Journal
LUBICONS WON'T ACCEPT 'NEW ZOO'
Journal Staff Writer
The Lubicon Cree are being offered "a new zoo" by the federal government to give up their land claim, says spokesmen for the band.
Chief Bernard Ominayak told an unofficial commission trying to break the deadlock in the land claims negotiation that no progress has been made since talks began nearly four years ago.
"They're stalling and stalling and stalling," Ominayak told the 12-member commission created by the Alberta New Democrats.
"In the meantime, they're stealing and stealing and stealing. They're stealing our resources 24-hours a day."
Oil revenues from production in the area has been estimated at $8 billion, he said. "With the billions of dollars that have been extracted from our traditional territory, there has not been one red cent come to the community other than welfare."
Although commission members describe themselves as non-partisan and self-supporting -- they're paying their own way -- the members are sympathetic to the Lubicon cause.
Co-chairman Jennifer Klimek said that in spite of the panel's leanings, she hoped people wouldn't dismiss the report when it's released.
The federal and provincial governments have been invited to appear before the commission later this month but have not yet replied.
The eight commissions Monday at the first public meeting, held in the basement of St. Joseph's Basilica, outnumbered spectators if the media weren't counted.
Ominayak, flanked by his advisers (lawyer Bob Sachs and consultant Fred Lennarson), said the ban claims about 10,000 square km between the towns of Red Earth and Peace River. It also wants compensation of about $170 million.
Ottawa has made a take-it-or-leave-it offer of $45 million and 246 square km.
"This is a proposal that in my judgment, and the judgment of every other person I know who's looked at it closely, would be tantamount to building a zoo for the Lubicons -- a new zoo -- and then feeding them on welfare," Lennarson said. "That's the difference."
Attachment #17: June 03, 1992, Edmonton Journal
LUBICONS FED UP WITH CLOSED-DOOR LAND-CLAIM TALKS
Journal Staff Writer
The Lubicon Cree say they are fed up with playing politics and anxious to make all settlement negotiations public.
Negotiations don't seem to work behind closed doors, Chief Bernard Ominayak told an unofficial commission Tuesday.
The commission, set up by the Alberta New Democrats to break the four-year deadlock over land claim talks with Ottawa, is holding hearings in the basement of St. Joseph's Basilica.
"We're not any closer to a settlement than we were in the past," Ominayak said, "but nevertheless we are here."
The Lubicon reject the federal government's take-it-or-leave-it offer of $45 million and 246 sq. km of land. They want...$170 million in compensation for hardships on traditional native lifestyles wrought by land developers and oil production.
"We've been compromising and compromising and waiting and waiting for many years for an agreement," Ominayak told the 12-member commission, which describes itself as non-partisan but sympathetic toward the Lubicon cause.
"(The government) doesn't like to see native people stand up and fight."
Even if the Lubicon accepted the settlement "it would take another five years of red tape before any money came through," said Ominayak's adviser Fred Lennarson.
Commission member Menno Wiebe says it is important to go public with such information.
"The fact that the government deprives the public of the content of negotiations questions the democratic system," said Wiebe, a member of the Mennonite Central Committee.
Commission co-chairman Jennifer Klimek said the report, which will assess government offers and Lubicon demands, is due by the end of July.
Attachment #18: Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (6:30 A.M.) Wednesday, June 3, 1992
Phil Henry, CBC: A lawyer for the Lubicon Indians says the Federal Government wants to muzzle the Lubicon Chief, Bernard Ominayak. Bob Sachs made the comment at a public hearing in Edmonton yesterday. A citizens' commission is trying to find ways to settle the Lubicon land claim dispute. Sachs told the Commission he met with Harry Swain, a Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs last week. He says Swain told him the Federal Minister of Indian Affairs didn't like comments Chief Ominayak had made about the slow pace of land claim negotiations. And Sachs says he was told Ominayak had better stop commenting publicly on the talks.
Bob Sachs, Lubicon lawyer: Apparently the Minister didn't particularly like those comments and so Mr. Swain delivered the message that unless the Chief kept quiet they were going to pull away from negotiations.
Henry: Sachs says the government may already have broken off negotiations which resumed in February, but he says Ominayak will not stop speaking out about the Lubicon situation. The Lubicon Cree of northern Alberta have been trying to settle their land claim for more than 50 years.
Attachment #19: Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (4:30 P.M.) Wednesday, June 3, 1992
Krysia Jarmicka, CBC News: A Federal official is denying he said Chief Bernard Ominayak should stop talking to reporters about how land claim talks are going. Yesterday the lawyer for the Lubicon Cree reported that Harry Swain, the Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs, told him "Ominayak had better keep quiet". Bob Sachs said that if Ominayak didn't keep quiet, the government would "pull the plug" on talks. Sachs says the comments were made on Friday. Swain couldn't be reached for a response, but a department spokesperson says Swain "categorically denies" making the comments. Wayne Hanna also says the government will not negotiate through the media. Bob Sachs stands by his account. He says Swain made the threat not once, but several times during their discussion.
Attachment #20: Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (5:30 P.M.) Wednesday, June 3, 1992
Krysia Jarmicka, CBC News: A Federal official denies he said Chief Bernard Ominayak should keep quiet about how land claim talks are going. Ottawa and the Lubicon Cree Indians have been negotiating since February. Yesterday a Band lawyer accused the official of trying to muzzle Chief Ominayak. Byron Christopher reports.
Byron Christopher, CBC News: It was Bob Sachs, the lawyer for the Lubicon Nation, who made the allegation. He said Harry Swain, the Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs, warned him last week that Bernard Ominayak better keep quiet about how talks were going. Ominayak had told reporters that talks were going nowhere. His remark followed a comment by the Indian Affairs Minister to reporters that talks were going great. According to Bob Sachs, Swain threatened to "pull the plug" on negotiations if Ominayak continued to speak out. I could not reach Harry Swain, but the head of the Department's Communications Branch in Alberta, Wayne Hanna, said Swain categorically denies making those comments. Hanna also had this to say.
Wayne Hanna, Alberta Indian Affairs Communications Director: Canada doesn't want to pull out of the negotiations and is committed to negotiating a settlement and building a new community. But Canada will not negotiate in the media.
Christopher: Bob Sachs is sticking to his story about the threats allegedly made by Swain. He said he and another man at the meeting made notes on what was said.
Bob Sachs, Lubicon Advisor: It was mentioned on more than one occasion in various forms including phrases such as "we'll pull the plug" and phrases like "you can't suck and blow at the same time".
Christopher: The federal government maintains the talks are still on. Byron Christopher, CBC News, Edmonton.
Attachment #21: June 1992 Alberta Native News Editorial by Dale Stelter
WHEN WILL JUSTICE BE DELIVERED TO THE LUBICON?
As Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak, accompanied by several Lubicon members and two band advisers, spoke to the Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review, one question kept going through my mind.
How many times does this story of the decades of destruction, deceit and betrayal that have been perpetrated upon the Lubicon have to be told? How many times, before the federal and provincial governments finally find the moral fibre and honour necessary to give the Lubicon a proper and just settlement? As has been the case on nearly every other occasion that I have heard Chief Ominayak speak, you could look around and see the shocked looks on the faces of many of the people in the audience.
At the same time, there are many parts of the Lubicon story that, no matter how many times I hear or come across them, always leave me feeling as if I've been kicked hard right in the stomach. And it seems that there are always some additional components of the story to learn about.
The courage and determination that the people this small band of northern Cree have shown, in the face of staggering and seemingly impossible obstacles and odds, literally defies description. No matter how many atrocities that either level of government and the omnivorous resource companies have piled upon the Lubicon, they have survived and they're still here.
Similarly, in comparison to the courage and integrity of the soft-spoken Chief Ominayak, many so-called leaders in non-Native society should be hanging their heads in glaring, abject shame.
The question must also be asked yet again as to what kind of a society this is, in which great numbers of people would not only allow the disgraceful and despicable treatment which the Lubicon -- and Natives across the country -- have had to endure, but would also turn their backs upon the whole thing.
And while large numbers of people define a life crisis in terms of choosing what kind of designer clothing to buy, and try to instantly improve the quality of their life by buying a more expensive car, the plight and the agony of the Lubicon continue.
Even in the face of such rampant self-interest and hopeless apathy, the Lubicon, with characteristic tenacity, are steadily reaching more and more people across the country and around the world, and the list of supporters continues to inexorably grow. Hopefully, the day is not far in the future when the numbers of such supporters can help the Lubicon turn back the tide represented by morally shipwrecked governments, and by the rotted-out values of the chronic clothes-and-car-buyers who help elect them.
Attachment #22: Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (5:30 P.M.) Thursday, June 04, 1992
Krysia Jarmicka, CBC News: Members of an Ottawa-based group that advocates justice for Native people plans to visit the Lubicon Cree Indians next week. Seven members of the Aboriginal Rights Coalition plan to be in Little Buffalo on June 11th. The group is inter-denominational. People traveling to Little Buffalo include Roman Catholics, Mennonites and Anglican. A delegation from the same group was in the area in 1984 on a "fact-finding" visit. A group spokesman says they want to see what has happened in 8 years and prepare a report for the World Council of Churches in Geneva. During its 1984 visit, the aboriginal rights coalition criticized the federal government for not doing enough to protect the Indians. It also supported a claim by the World Council of Churches that the Lubicons were victims of "cultural genocide."
Attachment #23: Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (7:30 A.M.) Friday, June 5, 1992
Phil Henry, CBC News: Church leaders who visited northwestern Alberta in 1984 to assess the Lubicon Indian situation are planning a return visit. Members of the Ottawa-based church group, the Aboriginal Rights Coalition, say they'll visit Little Buffalo on June 11th. Eight years ago after a visit to the Lubicons, the group criticized the federal government for not doing enough to protect the Cree. A group spokesperson says they want to see what has happened since then. Lorna Schwartzentruber says after the visit the group will file a report with the Canadian Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.
Attachment #24: Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (8:30 A.M.) Friday, June 5, 1992
Phil Henry, CBC News: CBC News has learned that the Minister of Indian Affairs is flying to northern Alberta this morning to talk with the Chief of the Lubicon Indians. Tom Siddon will be meeting Chief Bernard Ominayak at noon. The meeting will be in Little Buffalo about 100 kilometres east of Peace River. It's the first time the federal Minister of Indian Affairs has visited the Cree settlement. He'll be accompanied by Dick Fowler, the Provincial Minister responsible for Natives. Relations between the federal government and the Lubicons have been strained lately. Lubicon negotiators have accused Ottawa of trying to muzzle Chief Ominayak with threats. They say Ottawa told them that the Chief shouldn't talk to reporters about the land claim negotiations. The Lubicons have been trying to get a reserve for more than 50 years.
Attachment #25: Transcript of CKUA Radio News Broadcast (12:00 Noon) Friday, June 5, 1992
CKUA: Federal Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon is meeting today in Little Buffalo with Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak. This is the first time a federal Indian Affairs Minister has visited the Lubicon settlement. Lubicon advisor Fred Lennarson said Siddon indicated he wants to get the on-going land claim negotiations back on track. Lennarson says he has no idea whether anything new will come out of the meeting. However, Lennarson says this likely won't be a closed session as in the past, because Ominayak has been invited to bring along anyone he wants.
Fred Lennarson, Lubicon Advisor: I won't be surprised if this meeting is an open meeting. That's been the Lubicon position all along. They would rather do all of this business openly here and in Ottawa and in Edmonton and any place else because when these things happen behind closed doors we then get all kinds of statements made by government officials which bear little relationship to the truth. So we'd rather have it all happen in the open so people can see for themselves what's going on.
CKUA: The Alberta Minister Responsible for Native Affairs, Dick Fowler, will also be at today's meeting. The Lubicon have been trying to get a reserve for more than 50 years.
Attachment #26: Transcript of CFRN TV News Broadcast (11:30 P.M.) Friday, June 5, 1992
Chris O'Brien, CFRN: Negotiations continued today on a controversial land claim dispute involving Alberta's Lubicon Indian Band. Federal Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon says he and his provincial counterpart explored a variety of issues today with Lubicon Band leader Bernard Ominayak. Siddon became the first federal Minister to visit the Little Buffalo reserve in northern Alberta. He promised not to prolong the land claim dispute any further. The Lubicons first applied for a land and cash settlement over 50 years ago.
Attachment #27: Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (12:00 Noon) Friday, June 5, 1992
Phil Henry, CBC News: The federal Minister of Indian Affairs is on his way to northern Alberta to meet with the Chief of the Lubicon Indian Band. The Band and Ottawa are trying to work out a land claim agreement. Our reporter Byron Christopher is following the story in Peace River.
Byron, why is this meeting important?
Byron Christopher, CBC News, Peace River: Land claim talks between the Lubicon Cree and the federal government are probably at the make-it-or-break-it point. As you know the two sides resumed negotiations in Edmonton around mid-February. These talks were behind closed doors, as they say. But this week on Tuesday the doors were pried open a bit when the lawyer for the Lubicons, Bob Sachs, dropped a bombshell at a public meeting in Edmonton. Sachs told people that federal officials threatened Chief Bernard Ominayak that they'd "pull the plug" as they put it on land claim talks if Ominayak didn't stop talking to reporters about how talks were going. Ominayak and advisor Fred Lennarson, for that matter, have been telling reporters that talks are not going too well. Tom Siddon, the Indian Affairs Minister, has been saying the opposite. He's been saying that talks are going great. So that's part of the problem. But inside sources tell me that Tom Siddon is making a more determined effort than previous Crown Ministers in getting the Lubicon land claim settled. Remember this dispute has dragged on since 1939. The importance and the urgency of this meeting is underscored by the fact that a.) Tom Siddon asked for the meeting; b.) he put the call in yesterday to the Band and flew out today; and c.) he's willing to meet Chief Bernard Ominayak on Ominayak's turf and no Indian Affairs Minister has done that before.
Henry: CBC reporter Byron Christopher.
Attachment #28: Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (4:30 P.M.) Friday, June 5, 1992
CBC: Krysia Jarmicka is here with the latest in regional and local news. Krysia, the news that Tom Siddon had gone up to meet with Chief Bernard Ominayak sort of got people anticipating that maybe there has been a settlement. Is there any word yet?
Krysia Jarmicka, CBC News: Well, there's no settlement to the Lubicon land claim in spite of those high level talks in northern Alberta this afternoon. Tom Siddon, Minister of Indian Affairs, met for more than an hour with Chief Bernard Ominayak and 30 other members of the Lubicon Band. Dick Fowler, the provincial Minister Responsible for Natives was also there. The meeting took place in a machine shed at Little Buffalo, one hundred kilometres east of Peace River. Siddon wouldn't say how much progress was made today but he did say the trip was worth it.
Tom Siddon, Federal Minister of Indian Affairs: I'm hopeful that by coming here and by listening to the people, the Elders and also having them have an opportunity to hear of the approach that we're taking that I feel optimistic. I'm always optimistic that the solution can be found...
Jarmicka: Ominayak said little was accomplished. He said he hoped the government would seriously consider an offer he made more than 6 months ago. He says Ottawa agreed today to study the offer. It's not known when the two sides will meet again.
Attachment #29: Transcript of CBC TV News Broadcast (8:30 P.M.) Friday, June 5, 1992
Kathy Daly, CBC: History was made today for northern Alberta's Lubicon Indians. For the first time ever, Canada's Native Affairs Minister visited the Lubicon settlement. He wanted to see in person what have been called some of the most atrocious living conditions in Canada. For years the Lubicons have waged a bitter fight with Ottawa to win a land claim settlement. But as Rick Boguski tells us tonight, despite today's visit, the Lubicons aren't optimistic anything's going to change.
Rick Boguski, CBC, Lubicon Territory: The Lubicons have been trying to reach a land claim settlement with the federal government for more than 50 years, yet this was the first time any Federal Minister had ever visited their settlement.
Dick Fowler, Alberta Minister Responsible for Native Affairs: Do you know where the Band Office is?
Boguski: The Lubicons weren't sure why Tom Siddon had come. When his office called yesterday, all anyone would say was that the Minister wanted to get negotiations back on track. But Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak insisted on serving him lunch first.
(Boguski To Siddon) What did you think driving in? What were your impressions of what you saw?
Tom Siddon, Federal Minister of Indian Affairs: Well, I've seen a lot of Alberta country and what are you asking me to comment upon?
Boguski: I'm just asking what you think of the settlement?
Siddon: I think it's like some communities I've visited. I'm not here to speculate on that I'm here to meet the Chief.
Boguski: I'm not asking you to speculate I'm asking you your impressions of the community.
Siddon: Look, would you mind if we have our lunch? Okay?
Boguski: You can't tell me what your impressions are?
Siddon: Well, we'll meet the Chief and then we'll talk later. Okay?
Boguski: Some watched as the two sides sat down to their noon meal. Outside others wondered about an agreement but few, it seemed, were holding out much hope.
Bryan Laboucan, Lubicon Community Member: Can't hope for anything.
Boguski: Why not?
Laboucan: This land claim's been going on for over 50 years now. It seems like it should have been over a long time ago.
Boguski: After lunch Siddon and his provincial counterpart were taken on a 10 minute driving tour to see first-hand on how the Lubicon live, a close-up view of a community where there's no running water, no paved roads and more than 90% unemployed. It's been referred to as Canada's third world.
Lillian Whitehead, Lubicon Community Member: We also hope things could be better but it's not easy. I would like to get the claim settled as soon as possible.
Boguski: Talks between the two sides have been on and off for years. This latest round of negotiations began last February. The federal government has offered these people a package worth up to $45 million. But the Lubicons say that's nowhere near what they need. They're looking for up to $170 million to create a new reserve and get their people back on their feet again. In a closed door meeting, talks went on for nearly two hours, and at the end there seemed to be little movement.
Siddon: Well, if you were to look at the elements of the proposal you'd find that the cost to build and construct a fully modern community adequate to the number of people here and all of the necessary infrastructure, as with other communities we've been constructing across Canada, would be between $30 and $45 million.
Chief Bernard Ominayak, Lubicon Lake Indian Nation: I would say there's quite a difference. As long as the other side is trying to keep us under the umbrella of the "take-it-or-leave-it" offer tabled back in 1989, then no process is going to work.
Boguski: Despite that, the Lubicons have asked the Minister to get back to them on a counter-offer the Band has drafted. A package that's still worth about $170 million. Tom Siddon says he'll try and arrange another meeting within the next 4 weeks. Rick Boguski, CBC News, Little Buffalo.
Attachment #30: Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (5:30 P.M.) Friday, June 5, 1992
CBC: Tom Siddon, the Minister of Indian Affairs, met for about 2 hours today with members of the Lubicon Cree including Chief Bernard Ominayak. The meeting took place in a machine shed in Little Buffalo a hundred kilometres east of Peace River. The Minister asked for the meeting to help resolve the long-standing Lubicon land claim. As Byron Christopher reports from Little Buffalo, it's difficult to tell how much progress was made.
Byron Christopher, CBC, Little Buffalo: The meeting was not open to reporters. When it was over, Tom Siddon spoke first. He said it was important for him to meet with members of the Lubicon community, but he refused to be pinned down on how much progress, if any, had been made today. Siddon said they're close on some issues but not so close on others.
Tom Siddon, Federal Minister of Indian Affairs: I'm not going to get into elements of the matters which we've been discussing with Chief Ominayak and with the Province of Alberta until we have an agreement, so there's no question of talking about bottom lines or the details of that today.
Christopher: I asked Siddon if he was any closer today than last week, but he replied, "That's a hypothetical question." He said, "There's still time to make a deal, but not a lot of time." But he says he's optimistic that something can be worked out. Here is what Chief Bernard Ominayak thought about today's meeting.
Chief Bernard Ominayak, Lubicon Lake Indian Nation: In the overall we really didn't accomplish very much today. Hopefully once he gets back and looks at the draft proposals from our side of the table we can get into some serious discussions.
Christopher: Ominayak says the federal government is finally going to get back the Band on the proposal it put in about half a year ago. He says that should be happening soon. And he says once that is done, he'll have a better idea where talks are going. Byron Christopher, CBC News, Little Buffalo.
Attachment #31: June 06, 1992, Edmonton Journal
OTTAWA, LUBICONS STILL DEADLOCKED
Journal Staff Writer
Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon came half-way across Canada to meet with the Lubicon Cree Friday, but had nothing new to offer in their 50-year-old land claim dispute.
"He's trying to confine us to the take-it-or-leave-it offer that led to this," Lubicon chief Bernard Ominayak said after a 90-minute meeting.
Siddon asked for the meeting when negotiations between the Lubicon chief and Edmonton-based Indian Affairs officials broke off over the latest federal offer.
His request coincided with the opening of an inquiry into the Lubicon situation by a commission created by the Alberta New Democrats.
The Lubicon want $170 million in government money, but Siddon said the cost to build a fully modern community would be $30 to $45 million.
"That would be supplemented with an economic development fund, a training fund, compensation for the fact that the reserve should have been created 50 years ago," he said.
"It is vastly less than the $170 million."
Siddon, whose visit to the community 100 km east of Peace River was the first by an Indian Affairs minister, said he felt it was important to go.
Accompanied by Dick Fowler, Alberta's minister for native affairs, Siddon met with Ominayak and about 30 community members in a metal hut.
Ominayak hopes Siddon will respond at their next meeting in four to six weeks to the Lubicon draft proposal the minister received last November when he first met with the Lubicon leader.
Attachment #32: Transcript of CP News Story Saturday, June 6, 1992
Little Buffalo, Alta. (CP)
Tom Siddon came halfway across Canada to meet with the Lubicon Cree on Friday, but the Indian Affairs minister had nothing new to offer in the 50-year-old land claim dispute.
"He's trying to confine us to the take-it-or-leave-it offer that led to this," Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak said after the 90-minute meeting.
Siddon asked to meet when negotiations between the Lubicon Chief and Indian Affairs officials in Edmonton broke off over the latest federal offer.
The Lubicon want $170 million in government money, but Siddon said the cost to build a fully modern community would be $30 million to $45 million.
"That would be supplemented with an economic development fund, a training fund, compensation for the fact that the reserve should have been created 50 years ago. It is vastly less than the $170 million," the minister said.
Siddon, whose visit to the community 580 kilometres northwest of Edmonton was the first by an Indian Affairs Minister, said he felt it was important to go.
Accompanied by Dick Fowler, Alberta's minister for native affairs, Siddon met with Ominayak and about 30 community members in a metal hut that serves as a store and equipment shed.
A torrential rain that swept the settlement filled deep ruts in the parking lot with water; the car carrying Siddon and Fowler had to be pushed out of the mud.
Ominayak hopes Siddon will respond at their next meeting in four to six weeks to the Lubicon draft proposal the minister received last November when he first met with the Lubicon leader.
The money the Lubicon want includes $100 million in compensation from Ottawa and Alberta for resources extracted from about 10,000 square kilometres the band claims as traditional territory.
"That will probably have to be resolved in a court of law," Siddon said.
The Lubicon have been fighting for a reserve since Ottawa decided more than 50 years ago they should no longer be recognized as Indians.
Attachment #33: Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (7:30 A.M.) Saturday, June 6, 1992
CBC News: The federal Minister of Indian Affairs made a special trip to northern Alberta yesterday to help solve the Lubicon land claim. The Lubicon Cree have been fighting for a reserve for more than 50 years. The Minister, Tom Siddon, traveled to Little Buffalo to meet with the Lubicon Chief and Band Elders. Byron Christopher was there and filed this report.
Byron Christopher, CBC, Lubicon Territory: Tom Siddon was welcomed into the machine shop at Little Buffalo by three Native drummers. Siddon said he traveled to Little Buffalo so he could meet face-to-face with the Lubicon Cree. He and Chief Bernard Ominayak had what's known as a frank discussion on where the Lubicon land claim is going. I can't tell you what was talked about because reporters were not allowed into the meeting. When the meeting was done, Ominayak said not much had been accomplished. He said further talks would hinge on what the feds thought about the Band's counter-offer, an offer given to Ottawa half a year ago.
Chief Bernard Ominayak: Our negotiators have suggested that they get back together in the next few days to try and agree to a process and a timetable that would enable them to do some serious negotiating.
Christopher: Tom Siddon said he was optimistic but he said he warned the Lubicon Cree that his government wouldn't be talking forever.
Tom Siddon, Federal Minister of Indian Affairs: I stressed to the Chief and Council here my belief that we have time but we don't have a lot of time over the next few months to settle this.
Christopher: The government has offered the Lubicons a package worth up to $45 million. The Lubicons say they need nearly 4 times that to build their community and their economy. There's no word on when talks will continue. Byron Christopher, CBC News, Little Buffalo.
Attachment #34: Transcript of CKUA Radio News Broadcast (8:00 A.M.) Saturday, June 6, 1992
Erin Carpenter, CKUA News: The Chief of the Lubicon Indians in Alberta says the federal government is still giving them the same old "take-it-or-leave-it" offer to settle their 50 year old land claim. Federal Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon went to the Lubicon reserve in Little Buffalo northwest of Edmonton yesterday to meet with Ominayak. Siddon says it would cost between $30 and $40 million to build a fully modern community on the reserve. But the Lubicons are asking for $170 million. Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak says he was hoping more would come out of the meeting but he adds it's encouraging the two sides are talking almost 2 1/2 years.
Chief Bernard Ominayak, Lubicon Lake Indian Nation: We would certainly like to have seen a more productive meeting than we had, but at the same time I guess we've got to try and make every effort possible to try and get a fair and just settlement for our people.
Carpenter: Ominayak says he'll meet with his Band Council to decide their next move.
Attachment #35: June 10, 1992, Peace River Record-Gazette
SIDDON, FOWLER VISIT LUBICONS AT LITTLE BUFFALO
By Diana Rinne
While Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak was glad to welcome Federal Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon to Little Buffalo last Friday, he had hoped for "something more productive" to come from the meeting.
"We're not really any farther ahead than we were, but as long as we're talking it's good" he said following a meeting with Siddon.
Siddon and Alberta Native Affairs Minister Dick Fowler arrived in Little Buffalo close to 12:30 p.m. and were served lunch before taking a tour of the community, approximately 100 km east of Peace River.
It was the first time Siddon and Fowler had visited Little Buffalo and Ominayak felt it was "high time."
"The invitation's been there for quite some time now," he said. "It's good that they're here but what's more important is what comes out of the meeting. We're here to listen to what the minister has to say."
Prior to the meeting, Ominayak said he hoped the minister would provide some response to the Lubicon's draft proposal to settle the 50-year-old land claim. That proposal is calling for $167 to $200 million settlement in addition to a reserve covering more than 250 square kilometres.
During the last round of talks in 1989, the federal government offered the Lubicons a $45 million cash settlement with a land base of 246 sq. km.
"I think it's time to get down to some serious discussions rather than them trying to restrain us with a take it or leave it offer," he said before going into a meeting with Siddon, Fowler, the Band Council and the Elder's Council.
Siddon was cautiously optimistic about moving towards a settlement with the Lubicons following the meeting. "Hopefully by coming here and listening to the people I feel optimistic that a solution will be found," he said.
"It's a very important part of my job to get out to see the people, find out what their needs are and hear from them," added Siddon.
In terms of a timetable for the land claim to be settled, Siddon wouldn't speculate. "We are not that far apart," he said, "I think we are moving towards a form of understanding. It's my belief that we have time but we don't have a lot of time."
Ominayak said that time tables had been talked about and he expected another meeting for some serious discussions would be held within the next six to eight weeks.
Later on this week, Little Buffalo will play host to a delegation from the Aboriginal Rights Coalition. Seven people, including five church leaders will make a solidarity visit to the Lubicon community, Thursday, June 11.
The trip is focused at gaining a first hand assessment of changes and progress in land settlement negotiations in Little Buffalo since the coalition's last visit in 1984.
Attachment #36: June 11, 1992, excerpt from House of Commons Debates
Mr. Ross Harvey (Edmonton East): Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
In consequence of questions asked in the Austrian parliament on May 5, the Austrian ambassador to Canada sought an audience with the minister during the week of May 18. He expressed the Austrian government's concerns about the situation of the Lubicon Indian people and their treatment at the hands of successive Canadian governments.
The minister being unavailable, the ambassador met with the deputy minister for the better part of an afternoon.
Can the parliamentary secretary advise whether or not the ambassador discussed what further steps, in addition to his meeting with the deputy minister, the Austrian government was considering taking regarding the Lubicon situation?
Mr. Ross Reid (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development): Mr. Speaker, first I thank my colleague for notice of this question.
I can confirm that the deputy minister did meet with the Austrian ambassador at his request. They spent a long time discussing not only the current status of the Lubicon negotiation but particularly reference to the accusation in the motion from the Parliament that talked about clear-cutting.
The deputy minister made it very clear to the ambassador that while Daishowa holds the rights, they are not and have not been logging within that sensitive area.
Mr. Ross Harvey (Edmonton East): Mr. Speaker, I must thank the parliamentary secretary for an answer, although of course it was only glancingly related to the question.
Among other matters raised it is my understanding that the ambassador spoke of possible Austrian overtures to the CSCE and other European countries and, as well, consideration of Austrian imports of Canadian lumber.
In any event, let me ask the parliamentary secretary whether or not the government now is sufficiently concerned with the impact of the Lubicon situation on Canada's international reputation to undertake at the very least to provide the Lubicon people with a detailed, point by point response to the band's draft settlement proposal which it has had now since the last 1980s and to which it has never yet responded.
Mr. Ross Reid (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development): Mr. Speaker, it is difficult to win in this House. You get accused of not answering the question; you get accused if you answer too much. So I will try to keep to the question.
The minister met on June 5 with Chief Ominayak and they discussed a number of things. The most important thing is the mutual commitment by the Lubicon and by the government to seek a successful, fair and appropriate negotiation and resolution to this dispute.
Both sides have committed, first, to pursuing that result and, second, they have both committed not to negotiate in public. Certainly for me to take a step in that direction would not serve the interests at all of a share.
Attachment #37: June 12, 1992, Statement by Church Leaders
EIGHT YEARS LATER
A STATEMENT BY CHURCH LEADERS ON THEIR RETURN VISIT TO THE LUBICON
Alarmed at the seriousness of Lubicon grievances in 1984, representatives from various Christian denominations undertook a mission to Little Buffalo to discuss those concerns directly with the Lubicon people.
At that time we reported that the well documented allegations presented to us were substantially correct. These included human rights violations, loss of a traditional economy, a social structure being severely tried, and unity amongst the people being threatened from without. Furthermore, we saw how oil and gas development without Lubicon consent, has placed the traditional lifestyle of the Lubicon Cree in serious jeopardy.
On June 11, 1992, eight years later, a delegation of church leaders and representatives made a follow-up visit to the Lubicon. We are deeply saddened and distressed to see that there has been no settlement between Canada and the Lubicon Nation on their legitimate land rights during this period. While we acknowledge that there are complexities with any such agreement, we are perplexed by the fact that the Federal Government has not resolved this situation. Specifically that the Federal Government has not responded to the Lubicon proposal to date is disturbing.
We found that in addition to the extensive oil and gas development we witnessed in 1984, we now report the encroachment of forestry development, including logging practices and pulpmill pollution with push any remaining possibilities of traditional activity to extinction. We are pleased to confirm that logging was stopped over this past winter. We call upon the forest industry to respect Lubicon jurisdiction on their traditional territory during this period of negotiations.
In 1984, trust and confidence in the social structure of the band was being severely tried. In 1992 we are keenly aware of the unrelenting stress on the families and young people of this community. Alcoholism and related tragedies, increasing school drop out, and family breakdown have taken an enormous toll on the lives of the Lubicon people.
The importance of education as key in building a future for Lubicon children was stressed to us. The need for a realistic economic base from which to move into the future is essential.
We stand in awe of the Lubicon for their persistence in a difficult struggle. We stress that legal responsibility for the Lubicon Lake Band lies with the Federal Government now as it did in 1984. We express the hope that the independent Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review may provide helpful initiatives. We urge the Federal Government to meet with this Commission.
We come away from this visit with a renewed appeal for a Lubicon settlement. We do not expect the Lubicon to continue to carry this struggle alone. It is clear that something must give if this situation is not to degenerate further. A settlement is needed now. It cannot wait.
MEMBERS OF THE DELEGATION
Rt. Reverend Donald Sjoberg, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
Reverend William F. Phipps, Representing the Moderator, United Church of Canada
Reverend Dan Zehr, Executive Director, Mennonite Central Committee Canada
Ms. Linda Winsky, Edmonton Interchurch Committee on Aboriginal Rights
Mr. John Phillips, Justice and Peace Commission, Oblates of Mary Immaculate of Grandin Province
Mr. John Stellingwerff, Chair, Edmonton Interchurch Committee on Aboriginal Affairs
Ms. Lorna Schwartzentruber, Coordinator, Aboriginal Rights Coalition (Project North)
Archbishop Henri Legere and Canon Isaac Graham also came to Little Buffalo with the delegation. Because of previous commitments, they were unable to spend the entire day with us.
Attachment #38: Transcript of CKUA Radio News Broadcast (12:00 Noon) Friday, June 12, 1992
Don Bell, CKUA News: A coalition of Canadian churches and aboriginal rights groups says Alberta's Lubicon Indians have suffered enough and it's time the federal government reach a settlement with the Band. Some members of the coalition visited the Lubicon reserve in northern Alberta in 1984 and yesterday they made a return visit. Today members of the coalition held a news conference in Edmonton and they said the Lubicon Band is depressed its 50-year old land claim is still unresolved and that other Canadians should join them in urging a quick settlement. CKUA's Erin Carpenter reports.
Erin Carpenter, CKUA News: The 7-member coalition of churches and aboriginal rights groups has supported the Lubicon Indians' land claim for years. They've just come back from talking with Band leaders on the northern Alberta reserve and say they now plan to increase the pressure on the federal government to settle the long-standing dispute through a letter-writing campaign and urging their membership to become more vocal in supporting the Lubicons. Rev. Bill Phipps is with the United Church of Canada. He says the Lubicons are depressed and dejected with how long the land claim negotiations have dragged on.
Rev. Bill Phipps, United Church of Canada: They're totally exhausted. And I don't think we understand what our society, in having the negotiations go on so long, is doing to these people. It's a disgrace as well a tragedy...
Carpenter: Phipps says it's encouraging talks have reopened between the Lubicons and the federal government after a two year impasse. But the coalition is urging Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon to go a step further and meet with the Lubicon Settlement Commission. The independent panel was set up by the Alberta New Democrats and recently held two days of hearings on Lubicon grievances. Meanwhile neither the Lubicons nor the government are talking publicly about the negotiations, but it is known that the two sides aren't even close to common ground. Ottawa recently offered $45 million and 246 sq. kms. of land. The Lubicon are asking for $170 million. Erin Carpenter, CKUA News, Edmonton.
Attachment #39: Transcript of CKUA Radio News Broadcast (5:15 P.M.) Friday, June 12, 1992
Don Bell, CKUA News: A delegation of Canadian church leaders and aboriginal rights groups is turning up the heat on the federal government to quickly resolve the Lubicon Indians' 50-year old land claim. The delegation has just returned from the Lubicon settlement north of Edmonton and says Band members are discouraged they still don't have a deal with Ottawa. As CKUA's Erin Carpenter reports, the 7-member delegation staged a rally at the federal government building in Edmonton today to protest the drawn out negotiations.
Erin Carpenter, CKUA News: Several Natives sing a song in support of the Lubicons while aboriginal groups and church leaders criticize the federal government for not helping reach a quick settlement with the Band. Rev. William Phipps is with the United Church of Canada. He told a rally today the Lubicon are suffering while Ottawa takes its time resolving their land claim.
Rev. Bill Phipps, United Church of Canada: While they are doing that people are dying, individually and collectively. A whole way of life and a culture is being destroyed.
Carpenter: Phipps and other members of the delegation are telling people to write to their MPs and the Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon to push for a quick settlement. Edmonton New Democrat MP Ross Harvey was at today's rally. He says the government's stalled on the issue long enough, but adds he's encouraged it's reopened negotiations with the Band. He says Ottawa should take a hard look at the Lubicons' most recent proposal.
Ross Harvey, New Democrat M.P.: If we can get a point by point response from the federal government on that proposal I think we're going to be well on the way to a settlement.
Carpenter: The Lubicon are asking for $170 million...Ottawa has offered $45 million and a 246 sq. km. land package. It's not known if the two sides are any closer to finding common ground. Neither side is talking publicly about the negotiations. In the meantime the church coalition and aboriginal groups will turn up the heat on the federal government. Lorna Schwarzentruber of the Aboriginal Rights Coalition says it's the only way to help reach a quick settlement.
Lorna Schwarzentruber, Aboriginal Rights Coalition: I don't think we can afford to stop. We need to be optimistic and just pray that every little bit can help.
Carpenter: Erin Carpenter, CKUA News, Edmonton
Attachment #40: Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (5:30 P.M.) Friday, June 12, 1992
Krysia Jarmicka, CBC News: A group of church leaders is again calling on Ottawa to settle a land claim with the Lubicon Lake Indian Band. The group held a news conference and rally in Edmonton today to make that point. The church leaders have just returned from a visit with members of the Lubicon Band in Little Buffalo in northern Alberta. Lydia Newfeld reports.
Lydia Newfeld, CBC News: The visit to Little Buffalo was a follow-up to one made by some of the same church leaders in 1984. Rev. Bill Phipps with the United Church of Canada says the group found that little has changed for the Lubicons in the last 8 years. At a news conference and rally in Edmonton this afternoon, Phipps and the other church leaders again urged Ottawa to take the initiative and settle the land claim dispute with the Lubicon.
Rev. Bill Phipps, United Church of Canada: ... Individually and collectively, a whole way of life and a culture is being destroyed. We are here to say that this has to stop, that finally this government has to come to terms with their responsibility on behalf of you and me and all the Canadian people.
Newfeld: Phipps also called on people to write letters to federal members of Parliament and hold sit-ins at MPs offices in an effort to pressure Ottawa into a settlement. The Lubicon land claim battle has been waging for over 50 years. The Cree Indian Band rejected a bottom-line offer from the federal government for $45 million and 246 sq. km. of land. The Band is asking for $170 million in compensation. Lydia Newfeld, CBC News, Edmonton.
Attachment #41: Transcript of CBC TV News Broadcast (8:30 P.M.) Friday, June 12, 1992
Bob Chelmick, CBC News: Canadian church leaders held a rally in Edmonton this afternoon in support of the Lubicon Indians. They're angry with the federal government which has refused to sign a land claim agreement with the Lubicon Band. As Rocky Woodward tells us now, the church groups displayed their disappointment at the rally in front of Canada Place.
Rocky Woodward, CBC News: Earlier this afternoon a Native drum was heard on the streets of Edmonton. The message the drum played was for stronger solidarity with the Lubicon Cree in northern Alberta. The rally was initiated by a group of Canadian church leaders in support of the Lubicons.
Rev. Bill Phipps, United Church of Canada: ... but it's been since 1939 that the Lubicon Nation has not had a land claim settlement. Particularly in the last 12 years, the Lubicon people have been fighting for a settlement to no avail.
Woodward: The church group recently returned from a visit to the Lubicon community at Little Buffalo. The last time they were there was 8 years ago, and they say nothing has changed.
Phipps: We went up again yesterday to talk with people and what did we find? We found that the conditions have deteriorated. Their traditional lifestyle has been totally destroyed by the oil and gas and forestry industries.
Woodward: Edmonton MP Ross Harvey showed up at the rally. He called on people to get behind the Lubicons.
Ross Harvey, New Democrat Federal MP: ... That's very important, because in the long run it is going to be the steadfastness of the Lubicon people coupled with the steadfastness of people like you that is going to bring them the just settlement they deserve.
Woodward: But today the church groups believe there is hope for the Lubicon. A lot more hope than 8 years ago.
Phipps: It looks like the Minister Tom Siddon went up there and maybe there's a little bit of an opening to have serious negotiations and resolve this.
Woodward: ... Church leaders say they will continue pressing the federal government to honor the Lubicon demand. For CBC News, I'm Rocky Woodward.
Attachment #42: June 17, 1992, letter to Chief Ominayak from Jacques Johnson, Co-Chair, Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review
Yesterday, June 16, Jennifer Klimek and I had a telephone conversation with Mr. Doug Hoover, special assistant to the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, Tom Siddon, in Ottawa. We were asking for an answer to our invitation for the Federal Government to send representatives to the Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review hearings to be held on June 22.
Mr. Hoover told us that there was a letter on Mr. Siddon's desk and that the Minister was expected to review or sign that letter in the very short term. Mr. Hoover volunteered to tell us the thrust of the letter which was a refusal to appear before the Commission on the basis of an understanding between yourself, Chief Bernard, Dick Fowler and Tom Siddon, that there would be no negotiation taking place in the public eye. Mr. Hoover felt that it would be impossible for the Federal Government to send anyone to appear before the Commission as there are sensitive negotiations taking place right now, and that to reveal some of these negotiations to the public at this time, may jeopardize the chances of a settlement taking place.
Our position is that the Commission's role is not to negotiate publicly, but to try to understand the positions of all parties concerned and make recommendations and report to all parties as well as the public of our findings. I would like to inform you also that the Alberta Minister of Native Affairs, Dick Fowler, faxed me a letter last night indicating that the Provincial Government would not appear before what he calls the "Pseudo Commission" for much the same reasons as the Federal Government has put forward. Would you have any comments on this?
Sincerely yours, Jacques Johnson
Attachment #43: June 18, 1992, excerpt from House of Commons Debates
Mr. Ross Harvey (Edmonton East): Mr. Speaker, in 1984 the Canadian Council of Churches sent an observer delegation to Little Buffalo Lake in north-central Alberta. Their mission was to investigate and report on the living conditions and treatment by Canadian governments of the people of the Lubicon Cree Nation.
It was this delegation that first applied the term genocidal to the situation they found. It was this delegation that first drew the attention of the world to the destruction of the Lubicon people's traditional way of life and the ongoing refusal of Canadian governments to deal fairly with them.
Last Thursday, eight years later, a second Canadian Council of Churches delegation traveled to Little Buffalo Lake. Their conclusions? If anything, things have become worse and government intransigence more calamitous. Death and disease run rampant. The very spirit of the people is being ground to dust.
This ugly stain on Canada's record must be removed. The Canadian government must being real negotiations with the Lubicon Nation, in good faith and starting with a detailed point-by-point response to the Lubicon's 1990 draft settlement offer.
Attachment #44: June 18, 1992, letter to Fr. Jacques Johnson from Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak
You ask for my comments regarding the reasons given by Mr. Fowler and Mr. Siddon for refusing to appear before the Lubicon Settlement Commission. My comments are as follows:
While it's true that representatives of the Federal Government have consistently refused to negotiate in public, which would have been the preference of the Lubicon people especially after years of non-productive negotiations behind closed doors about which Government representatives have made all kinds of ridiculous claims, there is in fact no agreement between Mr. Fowler, Mr. Siddon and myself which would prevent either Mr. Siddon or Mr. Fowler from appearing before the Lubicon Settlement Commission.
Moreover the Lubicon people would welcome Mr. Fowler and Mr. Siddon appearing before the Lubicon Settlement Commission and answering questions about their respective Lubicon settlement offers, which they have publicly described many times as "generous", and about Lubicon settlement proposals, which they have publicly described many times as "unreasonable". Hopefully a full public vetting of Lubicon settlement proposals and government settlement offers will let people decide for themselves who's being "generous" and who's being "unreasonable".
Regarding Mr. Fowler's characterization of the Lubicon Settlement Commission as a "pseudo" Commission one can only presume that Mr. Fowler for some reason thinks only the government can establish a "real" commission. To our knowledge, however, there's nothing in the parliamentary rules or in law which prohibits the Leader of the Official Opposition from establishing a citizens commission with exactly the same powers to assess and recommend as might be held by a similar commission established by the government. Without taking anything away from Mr. Martin who is certainly to be commended for establishing the Lubicon Settlement Commission, it seems to us that the credibility of any such independent citizens commission depends more upon whether it's generally seen as needed and useful than upon who initially perceived that need and acted upon it.
Following years of frustrating, non-productive discussions between the Lubicon people and both levels of Canadian Government -- during which much of what the Lubicon people owned and valued as a people has been systematically destroyed by government directed multi-billion dollar development activity conducted in our unceded traditional territory without our consent and over our protest -- the need for some kind of truly independent third party to help resolve Lubicon land rights is painfully clear. We would have welcomed the establishment of such an independent third party by either level of Canadian Government but in fact both levels of Canadian Government have instead consistently blocked, rejected and/or subverted efforts at independent third party mediation, including the Federally commissioned independent inquiry conducted by Mr. E. Davie Fulton which was rejected and ultimately subverted by both levels of Canadian Government, the Lubicon proposal to reinvolve Mr. Fulton as an independent third party mediator responsible to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, which was rejected by the Federal Government; Mr. Getty's proposal to establish an independent three person tribunal, which was rejected by the Federal Government; and the Federal Government's proposal to appoint a single mutually agreed mediator -- which the Federal Government itself then subverted by actually withdrawing the names of Federal candidates for mediator which the Lubicon people found to be acceptable.
Hopefully Mr. Fowler's and Mr. Siddon's refusal to appear before the Lubicon Settlement Commission isn't just more of the same. If it is hopefully that refusal won't prevent the Lubicon Settlement Commission from studying and drawing conclusions about the Government's Lubicon Settlement Proposals, as well as perhaps about the refusal of both levels of Canadian Government to cooperate with the Commission.
With all of the problems currently being faced by both levels of Canadian Government one would think that Mr. Fowler and Mr. Siddon would welcome any help they could get in resolving this long-standing dispute. Certainly the Lubicon people appreciate the Commission's concern and willingness to try and help.
Hopefully Mr. Fowler and Mr. Siddon will both reconsider and agree to appear before the Lubicon Settlement Commission.
Sincerely, Bernard Ominayak
Attachment #45: June 19, 1992, letter from Federal Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon to Jacques Johnson
Dear Father Johnson:
Thank you for your letter of May 21, 1992, inviting me to meet with the Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review on June 22 or 23, 1992.
As you may be aware the Honourable Dick Fowler and I met with Chief Ominayak in Little Buffalo on June 5, 1992 to discuss the band's land claim and the status of negotiations. In this regard, I am pleased to advise you that negotiations are continuing and that we plan to meet again by mid-summer. In past discussions I was asked by Chief Ominayak not to comment publicly on any aspect of the negotiations. During my recent visit to Little Buffalo, I re-affirmed this pledge with the Chief's approval. I am sure you realize that as a Minister of the Crown I am in no position to break my promise to Chief Ominayak. As the Commission of Review is very much a public forum and as substantive negotiations are at a delicate stage, I am sure you will appreciate the necessity of honouring my commitment to Chief Ominayak. It is for these reasons that I have to respectfully decline your invitation to appear before the Commission at this time.
Your determined efforts on behalf of the Lubicon people are greatly appreciated, and I hope my inability to appear in person will not detract from your group's work.
Yours sincerely, Tom Siddon
Attachment #46: June 24, 1992, letter to the Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review from the Taskforce on the Churches and Corporate Responsibility
The Taskforce on the Churches and Corporate Responsibility is a national ecumenical coalition of the major Christian churches in Canada. Its role is to assist its members in implementing policies adopted by them in the area of corporate social responsibility (list of members appended).
In 1983, the Lubicon Lake Indian Nation appealed to Canadian churches for support in their struggle for recognition of their aboriginal rights. In response, the Taskforce on the Churches and Corporate Responsibility has raised concerns with industry and government for nearly a decade about the effects on the band of industrial development within its traditional territory.
Through correspondence, meetings with management, and participation in shareholder meetings, the Taskforce has persistently encouraged companies in the energy and forest sectors to respect Lubicon aboriginal land rights. This is consistent with Canadian church policies that call for no new major industrial development on unsurrendered land until either native land claims are settled, or until terms governing that development are negotiated satisfactorily with the native people concerned.
Although the primary concern of the Taskforce is corporate social responsibility, with respect to the Lubicon, we have viewed corporate actions within the framework of provincial and federal government policies. Based on our experience with corporations, the provincial and federal governments, and the Lubicon, we believe any consideration of the federal government's settlement offer and the Lubicon's response should take into account the following points.
The social, cultural and environmental consequences of industrial development have been severe on the Lubicon and their traditional territory. This was pointed out as early as 1983 by a World Council of Churches study. Under these circumstances, the Taskforce has sought changes in corporate practices, while simultaneously urging the federal and provincial governments to quickly reach a just settlement. While none of the corporations so addressed agreed to cease their development activities until the land claim was settled, some began discussion of environmental and jurisdictional questions with the Lubicon.
The failure to reach a timely resolution of this matter has imposed extreme hardship on the Lubicon while governments and industry have carried on relatively undisturbed. While significant financial advantages have flowed to both government and industry, the Lubicon have experienced social, cultural and economic disruption, including in particular the serious decline of traditional resources.
Therefore, as you examine and compare the federal government's proposed settlement and the Lubicon response, we hope you will consider the following elements, which we consider essential to a just settlement:
Financial compensation for past resource extraction and special economic development funding are two important elements include din the Lubicon proposal but missing from the federal government offer. The federal government offer thus ignores the significant private and public benefits that have been derived from natural resource sales while imposing social, cultural and economic costs on the Lubicon.
We wish you well in your task and hope the results of your work will speed a just and final settlement.
Sincerely, Rev. Dr. Ray Hodgson, Chairperson
Attachment #47: June 1992 letter from the Aboriginal Rights Coalition to Federal Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon
Dear Minister Siddon:
We understand that an Independent Citizen's Commission has been formed to review the Lubicon Lake Nation settlement. We also understand that this Commission has heard from the Lubicon regarding their proposal during Commission meetings last week in Edmonton.
It is vital that the federal government offer be presented to the Commission. We encourage your participation as a sign of your deep desire in resolving the present impasse. The media are watching this with great interest.
Sincerely, Lorraine Land, Co-Chair
Attachment #48: June 08, 1992, letter from Sister Beryl, St. John's Priory to Federal Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon
I continue to follow the Lubicon Lake land rights issue with a great deal of interest, and prayer. I have your letter of May 26, written in answer to one of mine. I did not find much indication that you are determined to bring this matter to a satisfactory solution -- 1981 was when I first began to understand the situation. Living in Alberta over the past ten years has shown me that neither the provincial nor the federal governments are truly committed to a solution.
I wish to bring to your attention the initiative being taken by Mr. Ray Martin who has organized an independent enquiry into the Lubicon land rights. Hearings were scheduled for the Lubicon, who attended and gave evidence, for the federal and provincial government representatives -- neither of whom sent representatives to support what seems to be a most helpful initiative. If the federal and provincial governments are so committed to settlement, why were they not there to assist this grass-roots effort? I might add that there are a number of highly qualified people involved on the enquiry, all of whom are giving their time and expertise.
I request that you and your advisors give high priority to reaching a just settlement of these land rights for the Lubicon.
Yours sincerely, Sister Beryl