Transcript of Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review Public Hearing, June 29, 1992
Commission Members Present:
Commission Members Absent:
Jennifer Klimek: ...provincial offers. An invitation had been extended to both Mr. Siddon and Mr. Fowler and their departments to appear. That has been declined, so our objective today is to look at their written materials and to make some observations and list our concerns or questions we may have about them.
You (the public) are more than welcome to attend for this part. We're going to just have an open discussion among the Commissioners which you are more than welcome to observe.
Now I'd like to open it up to the Commissioners. I guess maybe the best way is to just sort of go around the table a couple of times so everybody gets to address their concerns until we think we've addressed everything that needs to be done. So maybe I'll start at that end. Do you want to start Don, or do you want to start Michael? Sandy? Sandy's got a few.
Sandy Day: Thank you. I guess my first question would be I'd like to know what happened in 1939 that a reserve was not established for the Lubicon people. It seems to me from my reading that everything was in place to proceed and then it didn't happen. I would like to know if there's any background or if anyone has any information that can clarify this point for me.
Jacques Johnson: I have some concerns regarding what is agreed between the Lubicons and the federal and provincial governments and what is still a stumbling block from the point of view of the governments in regards to the final settlement. I read a Communique dated January 24, 1989, shortly after the Lubicon and government break-down of negotiations. This Communique is signed Ken Colby, Federal Spokesperson in which he claims the following:
"Negotiations towards settlement of the land claim by the Lubicon Lake Indian Band have broken off, after the band rejected Canada's offer of $45 million in addition to the 95 square mile reserve the Band wanted.
"The Band is demanding additional compensation of between $114 and $275 million."
This seems to contradict what the Lubicons have told us three weeks ago when they stated that they wanted a total of $170 million, not only compensation but infrastructure and so on.
The Federal Communique continues:
"During 8 weeks of negotiations, concensus was reached among government and band negotiators on the key issues of membership, reserve size, community construction and delivery of programs and services. However, the negotiators were unable to reach agreement on the issue of cash compensation."
So I understand from this that according to the federal government the only stumbling block would be the issue of cash compensation. And this is really in conflict with what the Lubicons have told us...Just as an example, if we look at the new medical centre and what the federal government is offering -- I refer back to the text, page 22, of the 1989 (Government) offer -- it's tab #1 in your red book -- it says here under clause #2.10 entitled "Community Health Unit":
"It is recommended that the Band discuss funding with NH&W" -- I believe that is National Health and Welfare -- "Preliminary information indicates that National Health and Welfare may fund $350,000."
"May fund" -- it seems that there are many government programs that could be (approached) by the Lubicon people...but the government says "is being funded".
There are statements that explicitly state, for instance, that there's a sum of $4 million available for different Lubicon development programs. But when we look in the fine print, different programs to which the Lubicons may apply, and if they qualify, the government "may" fund it. It seems to me that this is far from being a very solid commitment on the part of the federal government. It's not remotely close to being cold cash or to being a secure commitment. They could be just as easily turned down.
So I have some questions to the federal government on how they would explain to us how they view this variety of different programs as being part of a final settlement, when nothing is remotely close to being final. I have other questions, but I'll pass.
Jennifer Klimek: Are there any comments on any of the questions that Jacques or Sandy had just before we move on? I think we should address their concerns if we can.
Michael Asch: I know a little bit about what happened in 1939. Most of it comes from reading secondary literature and the rest of it comes from talking to individuals. I'm not certain of that I speak with authority, that this is the answer, but the ballpark within which that answer lies has to do with dropping the priority for actually doing a survey of the lands for the Lubicon in the period after 1939 due to, at least in some people's opinions, the pressing urgency of the war effort, so that it was not in fact surveyed. The reserve was not in fact surveyed. Then after the war, according to what I've read, the federal government asked the provincial government -- I'm sorry, the provincial government asked the federal government about doing the survey and the federal government did not do it and ultimately the provincial government went ahead and did development on those lands.
Sandy Day: Thank you. I have just a couple of comments just to add to what Jacques has said. The key item for me is that Native people tend to think in a circle. I had such a strong feeling after the last set of hearings that all the items they're asking for become a part of the whole. And if you take something out, such as the vocational school, it leaves a gaping hole in the whole circle of what they want. The gaping hole in that case is that the young people cannot stay on the reserve. They cannot train there to fix their own equipment, to build (roof) trusses for the homes that they want to build. By not having a place for their elderly on their reserve, if that is not included in the settlement, that takes that vital element of their society out from them. So that the elderly people are not included or are not a part of, are not there to teach the young people. I think this is such a key issue in the whole process. It's as if there are two different languages being spoken.
I would really like the federal people to try to listen with their hearts to this kind of language that goes in a circle and that in order to do that, I think they have to look closely at the proposal that is put before them from the Lubicon people, and to look at it and see that it incorporates their whole sense of community as a Native people. I would like to include that to ask for a response from the federal government regarding that.
Jennifer Klimek: Are there any other comments on what either Sandy's or Jacques' questions and comments?
One concern I would like to address to the federal government -- or maybe someone here can address it -- is the fact of, just going back to basics, having listened to the Lubicons, my understanding is they don't view themselves as being part of Treaty 8, that they're looking for a comprehensive settlement. I'd like to know whether government sees that. From what I've read and in discussions with people they view these people as being part of Treaty 8, they should get no more or no less, they should get what was there. I'd like to find out how they're approaching this on, I guess, a philosophical (basis) or a basis for that -- what they're coming to the table with. If they're seeing it as Treaty 8, then are they ignoring everything else or are they willing to look at that or how do they view it. I don't know if anyone here has any comment on that but it's certainly a question for me.
Michael Asch: I'll address a little bit of that when I get to my questions.
Menno Wiebe: A preliminary response to the question -- I thought we heard the Lubicon representatives advocate for a comprehensive settlement which would mean outside and beyond Treaty 8, but then there are some ingredients in the negotiations which indicate some willingness to stay within the scope of Treaty 8. The Grimshaw Agreement is really based on the 128 acres per person.
So the Lubicon Cree also have to live with the other friends and relatives and whole other bands in the surrounding area. So as not to alienate themselves from them or to do one better, they have stayed within that frame of land area. To me it looks like considerable discipline has been exercised here. So it doesn't come through as clean-cut to me so far. The comprehensive claim commitment is manifest in their insistence that their aboriginal rights may not be extinguished within the negotiations, so we may have some homework to do on that.
I would like to identify some of my own questions based on the federal proposals. One might be a take-off on what Michael Asch tabled last time when he asked the Chief whether a partial settlement might be possible and I think he referred particularly to the aboriginal rights packet. Having sat in on some of the Royal Commission gatherings in Winnipeg, I heard them reiterate several times that the longevity of the Royal Commission -- that is, their three year sitting -- should not stop any negotiations from proceedings. In other words, nobody should sit and wait until they make a ruling on aboriginal rights. Having said that formally, one realizes that's not necessarily how it's going to be. If the federal government is now going to hold the whole show up saying it can't make any judgement on aboriginal rights because it's in process by the Royal Commission, then we could see a long, dry period of non-happenings here. I think we should identify that as a concern.
Bernard seemed to say if the aboriginal rights questions could be put on the shelf without prejudice -- that's how my notes have it from the last meeting - - then they would be willing to consider that. But the information we have, I think via Fred Lennarson, is that both the feds and the province are insistent that the negotiations be final on all points. So this Commission may want to come in between those two and come up with an alternative. We may have to come somewhere between the two positions. I would like to identify that as one point. I hope I'm not misrepresenting you Michael, but I did quite a bit of thinking about your question last time.
I would like to identify a second one. On the compensation there, which Jacques has already addressed, not so much to the exact amounts but on the basis of it, so far I have heard and read 4 criteria for developing a sum or sums of the compensation. And they aren't all consistent. Some are on the verge of cancelling each other out, or at least something has to be done.
The first one was compensation on the basis of damages. We heard quite a bit about that -- the loss of hunting economy would be an example. The second thing we heard was the loss of resources -- that 24-hour a day pumping of oil from Lubicon lands is a veritable loss of resources, so some compensation there. The third item I heard was that there should be compensation for services not rendered because the reserve status wasn't granted in 1939. And here comes the somewhat, for me, conflicting one -- the fourth point would be services granted by DIAND for status Indians elsewhere -- that is, the non- treaty people, or the ones that don't have reserves, e.g., the Northwest Territories or Labrador or B.C.. There have been many funds expended on the strength of they were status Indian people.
So these four have to me, as I have heard them, are identified as the basis for compensation. There may be more. What that means for us, I'm not sure.
I'd like to identify another point coming out of the federal proposal and that is that the preoccupation with providing monies for secondary or tertiary expenditures, such as a band hall or roads and services, can very easily mask the deeper economy, what I would call the primary economy. I would like to suggest while we're here that we give consideration to primary economic development rather than secondary or tertiary. So while a laundromats and health units and recreation halls and swimming pools are needed for a community life, that community has to be there for a basic economic reason. Hunting and gathering and fishing was that reason for being there. We should look at the other alternative, basic economic things, give priority to the primary economic, over secondary or tertiary.
Maybe that's enough for now. I do want to identify one other one, and that is the negotiation process. I'm not sure whether I'm within the mandate of this Commission now, but it seems to me that we should give attention to the granting of leases, to giving permission for further harvesting of resources, while the negotiations are taking place. If somewhere in our margins towards the end we could have a recommendation to the effect (of freezing further development activity) -- it seems extremely...undercutting and highly prejudicial to keep on granting leases for harvesting of forests or fossil fuels while the negotiations proceed...And that is enough now.
Don Aitken: I guess there's a couple of points that I'd like to get clarified. One is the Section 17 of the Indian Act which recognizes Indian Bands and can re-organize them as the federal government wishes. When they have a problem, they find it a way to divide and conquer. In having recognized the Woodland Cree, and talking now about the possibility of others, has the federal government ever officially recognized the Lubicon Lake Band as a Band? If that's the case, do they have a right to peel them off. And if they haven't recognized them as a Band, perhaps that should be a priority, that we should be sure that they are recognized as a legitimate entity to work with.
I guess the next step, I think, is an acknowledgement by both the federal and provincial governments officially that there has been an injustice done and that there will be a resolve to it. It seems that while they're talking about resolve, they're not necessarily, and they often want to deny there's a problem. I think that perhaps there has to be those two stages. One, recognize who you're talking to, recognize what you're talking about. And I guess that's recognition of the injustices done, the loss of the economics and the way of life and in particular the exploitation of their land, the fact there was much profit made off it at the expense of these people not to mention the erosion of their livelihood due to the geographical and structural changes.
I guess another question I'd like to ask is -- are there reasons for the government not achieving a result? It seems that this has been going on back to 1899. Do you they have a hidden agenda? If they do, then perhaps that needs to be talked about. Because it just seems that negotiations don't normally go on forever and yet that seems to be the case here.
So I think those questions have to be asked of the government. Is there a reason why they haven't gotten it resolved? Perhaps what we should be doing is encouraging a penalty for not meeting a deadline, not just as we're talking in 1988 dollars, constant dollars, but we should be talking about that there is interest accruing, if necessary an extraordinary level -- in other words there should be some incentive to resolve this thing. Right now there is no incentive, or there's doesn't appear to be an incentive on behalf of one half or two thirds of the negotiating (parties). If you are going to find your resolve to a problem, the problem has to be for both sides. And right now the problem is only on one side, the side of the Lubicons, because neither the federal nor the provincial government...necessarily view this as a problem. It's something that they do, but if it's never resolved it's not really going to bother them. It won't bother them particularly. In any set of negotiations, there's got to be two or three winners, and not just one loser, which is the way it is. So I think somehow or another we've got to get negotiations on the basis that there can be a win-win, or lose-lose -- both sides lose instead of one. So I think that's an important thing to do.
As was mentioned by the Lubicons when we heard them, Bernard talked about how he felt there should be open negotiations, basically as the treaties were formed in the first place, where there were open discussions with the people who were involved and that they should in fact be not done behind closed doors, because doing it behind closed doors keeps it out of the public eye and of course unless it's brought up again, people may in fact think that it's resolved. So I think that it's important for both sides that they -- certainly for the voters in Canada and Alberta who have the government representing them, or supposedly representing them, that they should be accountable to the people. By doing it behind closed doors, this is not accountability. I think we're witnessing that now when governments are not willing to come forward and explain their positions.
Also I'd like to reiterate the questions that were asked by Menno and by Michael about is there some movement, are there some things that can be done immediately? These people are not -- this is not a business deal between two companies, about one buying out the other and if it doesn't business goes on as usual. There isn't business going on as usual. It's deteriorating and it's at the expense of an awful lot of human beings, an awful lot of the very future of those people. So I think that there has to be some urgency brought to the issues and there has to be some immediate action taken, and some of those basics I think should be done without prejudice initially. If it can be dealt with, as I understood it in the presentation of the Lubicons, some of the really basic needs were met immediately, then I think people could expect the fact that maybe the governments were sincere about this. But the fact is that "take-it-or-leave-it" is not a reasonable way to deal with any peoples, let alone people who have been denied for 100 years.
So those are the points that I'd like to make. I think perhaps some of those questions could be answered or at least put to both the federal and provincial governments in our later attempts to communicate with them...(change tapes)...
Michael Asch: I find myself swinging between two poles when thinking about Lubicon, which are probably as extreme as they can be. The first one is yes this can be settled and we can do something to make a difference. The other is no, this will not be settled no matter what we do. So we talk about two very, very polarized points of view about ourselves and our role here.
I do that because I'm wondering about a few things. Rather than saying things in statement form -- I'd like to address some questions as I did to Chief Bernard when he was here. Try to get some answers from the federal and provincial side. On the provincial side, I'm not really as concerned about policy issues as I am about responsibility issues, because I really think that the fundamental policy question is in the hands of the federal government, although as we are speaking right now, the Ministers are meeting with the Prime Minister presumably over lunch and even though they promised they wouldn't be discussing aboriginal issues, I'm not so sure that that won't happen. I'm pretty sure I know what position the province of Alberta will take on the subject.
So what I'd like to ask of the province is a question about how much has been extracted from these lands. The only information that we have comes from an extrapolation that came from a court document that the province brought forward, and that's where we get this billions of dollars from, it was an extrapolation I saw in the Goddard book. And I'd like to have some firmer foundation for the amount that's been extracted. And the second thing I'd like to ask the province -- what is it now, about 15 years later anyway -- whether the province still feels strongly that the retroactive legislation which they passed, which was the legal lever that the Isolated Communities and the Lubicons in particular had, and which at the time Premier Lougheed said was merely house-cleaning and had nothing to do at all with prejudice to the on-going negotiations with the Isolated Communities -- whether they still maintain that position, and to try to flush out with them how that seems to square with the problems that the Lubicons seem to be having now, are having, they're not getting any leverage to, as Don Aitken points out, produce a possible lose on the government's side that would drive them to try to settle this thing. That legal lever was an important possible lose on the government's side that they took away through retroactive legislation. I'd like to ask them if they still see it in the same way.
I'd like to ask -- well, I won't mention any names, because I'm sure we'll have to deal with whoever was the current occupant at the time -- but there are historical issues here that would be helpful that we'll discuss later, and some individuals from the past might be helpful to clarify some of it.
On the federal side, I think that it's becoming clearer to me that the Lubicon issue is not a bizarre single incident. I was never sure whether it was or it wasn't, I must say, until I looked at the proposals and I heard Chief Bernard.
The Lubicon in the dimension of assertion of their political rights are standing on the same ground, as I see it right now, as the Dene and as others in B.C. with whom the federal government has not felt drawn to complete negotiations. So when I asked that question of Chief Bernard about the without prejudice, I asked it in light of seeing what the Dene/Metis final agreement looked like in April of 1990, because it had a clause like that, and while it was never actually voted on specifically I can say from my general knowledge, that that clause was not satisfactory to the Dene. The Dene felt as much as this was a negotiation about economics, it was even more a negotiation about political relationship, and that just to say we'll negotiate the political relationship tomorrow, was not satisfactory to concluding the settlement to signing.
I would like to know from the federal government's side whether they would be prepared to make the same offer to the Lubicons. I'm not sure how the Lubicons would answer, but I'd be interested in knowing whether they'd be prepared to make the offer, because there are some things in the Lubicon position which I know conflicts strongly with fundamental government policy -- whether or not I accept that policy, I know if conflicts strongly with it. For example, I'm using these because these are essentially -- Title 13, self- government in the Lubicon proposals, says the Lubicon Lake Nation is acknowledged by Canada and Alberta to have the right of self-determination and the right to exercise and maintain self-government on the reserve. I don't believe that the government of Canada has accepted that any First Nation has the right to self-determination. That's one of their fundamental points, and in fact (the Government of Canada) made that argument in Europe and Geneva. They've made this argument over and over again, that while indigenous people have individual rights, they do not have collective rights other than their rights as citizens in Canada. So I would imagine that would be a stumbling block to the federal government to accept that clause.
They also have a clause -- there's a number of them, 13.4, 13.5, which says in the case of any conflict or inconsistency, the laws enacted by the Lubicon Lake Nation in respect to the reserve shall prevail over any laws and regulations of Canada or Alberta.
Now, if we didn't have clause 13.1, and if this wasn't a constitutional document -- I hate to get technical but we're going to have to a little bit. If you don't understand it and you want me to explain it I will. That clause would not be a problem. That clause exists right now in the Sechelt Legislation, for example, which is the legislation of self-government for a Band in British Columbia. It says in the case of any conflict or inconsistency the laws enacted by the Sechelt Nation shall prevail over laws and regulations of Canada or British Columbia. However, the Sechelt Legislation is a normal act of Parliament and therefore the trump that the federal government has is to pass a law in the next Parliament which would annul this deal. It can do it unilaterally. There's nothing in the document that says that the Sechelt have any right to object. But if this document is a Constitutional document, then by accepting this clause, the government of Canada has accepted forever the laws of the Lubicon Lake Nation will prevail over the laws and regulations of Canada or Alberta. And in some respect within certain jurisdictions that's true, but these are not spelled out expect in 13.4. I don't want to deal with what the jurisdictions are so much as the principle. This is something that Canada has objected to and in fact this round of constitutional negotiations has been all tied up in how to untangle the knot of a sovereign power saying that another potential sovereign doesn't have the right to co-exist, and sort of accepting that yes it does have such a right, but how do the two get together to form some sort of mutuality for governments. That's really what a lot of the discussions in this constitutional round's been about. So I can imagine that the federal government could find sections 13.1 and 13.5 to be impossible to accept.
So then the question becomes would they be prepared to say that they would sign a deal that would say we'll live to discuss self-government issues tomorrow, but we'll settle this other stuff right now. And would the Lubicons be prepared to accept such a proposal if it was put on the table? As I say, in certain other jurisdictions the answer has been no. In certain cases the answer has been yes. This is something that is not pre-ordained.
So I guess to step back, I'd like to ask the federal government that kind of question. But to step back, what I'd like the federal government to -- and this really gets also to what Jennifer and Menno were talking about -- is to lay out for us what their policy is with respect to negotiations in general, and how this applies to the Lubicon case in particular, so that we can have clear from their point of view -- not tilted by my interpretation or anyone else's interpretation -- where they see the policy differences between their position and what the Lubicons are proposing in their offer. I think that would be fair. Then we could make a much better judgement of where things are going, and the public would have a much better understanding of where things are at right now.
Jennifer Klimek: Michael, I just have one point that maybe you could address, out of what you said. We've been advised by someone in Vancouver that they could not settle this because of the legalities, even if the Lubicons said they thought that was a good proposal, because the courts wouldn't allow them to do that. Do you think that plays into -- and I can't explain anymore because that's said...
Michael Asch: Would you mind repeating it then?
Jennifer Klimek: When he was advising us, when we phoned to see if he was coming, was that they are precluded by the courts from accepting this. They would have to go get a court approval, which he doubted they could get, to accept this proposal as it stood.
Michael Asch: Who is this?
Jennifer Klimek: Doug Hoover, who is the Alberta representative for Indian Affairs. I'm just wondering if you have any knowledge of that, because that's something I would like to know. Why does he say that? It seems to me they've negotiated other deals. He has told us that, without going to court, because he thought it was to their benefit to negotiate. But then in the next breath he says, "This couldn't be accepted, we'd have to get court approval". I'm just wondering if you had any insight into that, and if so, that's what I'd like to address.
Michael Asch: I have no idea what he's talking about. Which document couldn't they look at without court approval?
Jennifer Klimek: It's my understanding, and maybe Jacques could confirm this because it was a conference call we had with him, was that if the Lubicon proposal as it stood now could not be accepted even if they wanted to without court approval.
Michael Asch: Well, reading between the lines and doing a lot of interpretation, I think what he's saying is that if you take a look at the recent Supreme Court decisions with respect to what aboriginal and treaty rights are, they don't go as far as the Lubicons are saying in this document, so he'd wait to get a court case which said that yes, this was right on the money, before he would accept this as a document. That would be my interpretation. I'm not sure he's right.
Jennifer Klimek: That would certainly be a question I'd want to put to them if someone were to show up.
Shall we start with you again Sandy? Do you have any more questions?
Sandy Day: A question I would like to ask of the federal government is that in the mid-80s they appointed E. Davie Fulton to look into the Lubicon settlement. At that time it was agreed to use Fulton's paper as a starting point for negotiations. What happened was that the paper was completed and it was not disclosed. I would like to ask what happened to the paper, how come discussions did not continue, and why was it not used for its intended purpose.
Jennifer Klimek: Sandy, I think this is just an add-on to what you said. I have a lot of concerns about what has happened in the past as well. Have they actually looked at the Lubicon proposal? Have they addressed it? As well, there was a time when there were suggested arbitrators, names were put forward then they were withdrawn once they were accepted. I'd like to get some of the federal responses to why that happened. I guess first of all, did it in fact happen and why? What were they trying to achieve by this? If they haven't done that, why not try that?
Sandy Day: On thing to add to what you said, Jennifer, is that Tom Siddon, when he was at Little Buffalo, said he didn't realize they were to make a response to the Lubicon proposal. He agreed to do that. I believe Bouvette - - I'm not sure I'm pronouncing that correctly -- is to be looking at that. I would like to ask them how that is going, when they hope to come back with a response to that.
Jacques Johnson: I have a question in regards to the possibility of the Lubicons going to court to fight for compensation. I have, in two documents from the federal government, that they may do this. One is that Communique that I referred to earlier put out by Ken Colby, federal spokesperson, where, on page 2, the top paragraph, it says:
"The Hon. Bill McKnight, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development said the band also rejected an offer to begin construction of the community immediately, without prejudice to the band's right to take the compensation issue to the Federal Court for decision."
So here it seems to indicate that the Band is free to take the federal government to court to settle the compensation issue. Another statement by the Minister, and that's page 2 in our Red Book, and the conclusion is that the Band would still be free to sue Canada and/or Alberta for compensation -- these are the words of Mr. McKnight. However, when we read the proposal, the final offer by Canada to the Lubicon Band, we read in clause 8, point 7:
"in consideration of the rights and benefits provided by this offer, the Band and such persons who are entitled to adhere to Treaty Number 8, through the Chief and Council of the Band:
"a.) will cede, release and surrender to Her Majesty In Right of Canada:
"1.) all their aboriginal claims, rights, titles and interests in and to lands and waters anywhere within Canada; and
"2.) all their claims, rights or causes or actions whether collective or individual which they ever had, now have or may hereafter have under or arising out of or by reason of Treaty 8, save as hereafter specifically provided;
"3.) all their claims, rights or causes of action (cause of action meaning really taking the federal government to court) whether collective or individual which they ever had or now have as alleged in the legal actions referred to in paragraph 8.8 and 8.9 of this offer;
"4.) all their claims, rights or causes of action which they ever had, now have or may have hereafter, or arising out of or by reason of any Imperial or Canadian legislation or Order in Council or other action of the Governor in Council or Canada in relation to Metis or half-breed scrip or money for scrip;
"b.) will agree, on their behalf and on behalf of their heirs, descendants and successors not to assert any cause of action, action for a declaration, claim or demand of whatever kind or nature which they ever had, now have or may hereafter have against Her Majesty In Right of Canada or any province, or the government of any Territory or any person based on any claim, right, title or interests described in (a)."
Anyway, this very complex and legalese type of release all lead to one thing, which is to deny the rights of the Lubicons to take the federal government to court. On the one hand, you hear the Minister of Indian Affairs saying that they are free to take the federal government and even the provincial government to court to settle the compensation issues. And their spokesperson Ken Colby reasserts the same thing. But when you look in the official documents that the federal government would like to have the Lubicons sign, legal recourse is totally denied them.
So I would like to really ask the government how they reconcile those two positions, which to me seem very contradictory. I don't know if anybody has anything to add or ask about this issue.
Michael Asch: One thing I know is that the wording that you see there is common wording on all claims agreements. My understanding is that what they're saying is that in return for whatever is specifically here you agree never to sue us again on this subject. It doesn't have anything to do with what would happen before. It has to do with what would happen after. And just to piggy-back a little on yours, I would like to know whether in light of the fact that, for example, in the James Bay case, there's been a lot of litigation for non-fulfilment of promises made; to what extent would this be open in the Lubicon case should the government not fulfil -- that goes back to the "may" words that you pointed out in your first round of questions -- "may" provide this, "may" provide that, it doesn't give them much to actually sue over if they sign this agreement, because it doesn't say that the government will do anything.
Menno Wiebe: Your questions, Jacques, may point back to Don's earlier questions as to whether 1939 did establish recognition of a reserve. You shook me up a little bit when you asked that question because I've paged back into the documentation on that and it actually talks about making application to, or it was recommended that they be regarded as having Band status, but I don't know if we have a record that this actually occurred. So when all the chips are down, when all the legal paths have been pursued, somebody could pull the rug out and say they don't have band status, so on the basis of what are they making this claim. So maybe your question is something that we ought to research and establish firmly. Surely somebody would have the answer. Whether they did receive band status. Maybe I'm revealing my great ignorance here.
Sandy Day: This goes a bit with yours, Menno. Have any benefits been received by the Lubicon people? I'd like to ask the government if so, what they have received. We heard from Bernard at the last hearing that there has been some minimal health care looked after, and a few houses, I believe, if I remember correctly. I don't know what goes beyond that. I'd like to ask them what have they received so far.
Jennifer Klimek: Do any of the Commissioners have any further questions right now?
Don Aitken: Just further to the comments that I made before about winners and losers in this. The fact that there is still being oil pumped out of there, and in fact there is timber still being cut and the fact that, as I understand it, the Lubicons have in fact said they don't necessarily want to have, or would be willing to not necessarily deal with or want to take over the oil wells that are on there but they want to have a say in the future -- one way that perhaps pressure could be brought to bear would be a moratorium on any of the profits or taxes that are levied, and that it all be put into a trust fund -- that any profits or royalties that are forthcoming from that land be put into a trust fund and held for a period, until such time as it is resolved, which of course would then mean that there would be something to gain by the other side to get this thing resolved. But that may just be the lever that would help to say it's in both sides' interest to resolve this. As long as the land is being raped and profits are being reaped, there is no reason to solve it. So if we can get a moratorium put on the development or on any profits being taken out, even if the land continued to be exploited -- that that money be held in trust and not be distributed until after this has been resolved. I think that may be one of the ways of getting some leverage there.
Jacques Johnson: I have a question to Michael here, maybe he can help us here, because you've been involved in the negotiations with the Dene people, I believe. Has there been any settlement made by them with the people in the Northwest Territories in recent years that you could describe as being a comprehensive settlement, even though these people may have already signed Treaty 11 before?
Michael Asch: Yes, in fact in the proposed settlement that the Dene as a whole rejected there was work done to try to accommodate the fact that this was either fulfilment of the terms of Treaty 11 or this was something entire new. That is, the attempt was to create the possibility that people who had signed the treaty could be signing another document, which is a comprehensive claims agreement, which then could be interpreted as being further elaboration of what was in the treaty or might be interpreted as being an entirely new thing. So it's not impossible to do that, if there's a will.
Jacques Johnson: Has it ever been done so far?
Michael Asch: ...I haven't seen the agreement that the Gwich'in signed so I can't say. But I would imagine that the language that was used there would not be much different from the proposed agreement that I did see.
Jacques Johnson: I have a further question. Why would it be then if the government has actually done that with the people who had previously signed treaty that they would at the same time be so adamant in denying a comprehensive settlement to a people in Alberta who have never even signed treaty?
Michael Asch: I think you'd really have to ask them. I really don't know the answer to that. The only thing that I could say, and it's not responsive but I think it's a good point to make at this point, is that in the Northwest Territories the caveat case proceeded to conclusion. The trial judge said yes, not withstanding the fact that...(change tapes)...were extinguished. At the same time this treaty was signed in 1921, and I -- meaning Judge Morrow -- have listened to Chiefs who signed the treaty and they say that isn't what they signed. They signed a peace and friendship treaty and it had nothing to do with ceding the land. And so there really is something to bring forward to court. And it was in the context of an uncertainty as to what the actual terms of Treaty 11 were -- that is, there were two points of view that were clearly articulated -- that was one of the issues that drove the federal government, I would believe, to say, well, let's start all over and work out some agreements so that nobody ever goes to court with this stuff (Editorial Note: Part of the NWT is also covered by Treaty 8). Now at the same time, as I say, the Province of Alberta passed retroactive legislation not allowing the Lubicons and the other Isolated Communities the very same here -- that is, not withstanding the fact that there was an existing Treaty 8, which they hadn't signed; and not withstanding that there was such a treaty, they still had unextinguished rights to land and perhaps -- well, let's just say unextinguished rights to land in the political and economic sense -- but unextinguished rights to land and that these needed to be dealt with. So they could file caveats on lands in northern Alberta warning property owners that there may be an unextinguished interest. I think right there was a lever that was absolutely central to the Dene case that was taken away.
Jennifer Klimek: I have one further question. The government has described their offer as being "generous", in their words, and I'd be interested in knowing how they come to that conclusion. Does it compare with other offers? If so, what are those other offers? Secondly, are they concerned about -- if they settle this -- that it's going to be a precedent for other land claims? Is that one of the reasons why they're not settling it, or is that a problem that they perceive at all, or is it a case by case thing, and if they settle this one it will have no impact on others, on a case by case basis?
Are there any other questions from any of the other Commissioners?
Sandy Day: I have just a couple of questions that I would like to ask the provincial government. The first is that my readings from Dick Fowler was in Little Buffalo recently, he stated that the provincial government would stand by the Grimshaw Agreement and I would like to ask for confirmation of that. And if they have any intent to raise the dollars from the 1988 figures, dollar figures that were agreed on, up to 1992 dollar figures for a settlement. I'd also like to ask about areas of compensation in that the provincial government doesn't, from my reading, feel that there is any compensation owing. I would like to ask them about that especially in retrospect with some of the items that were brought up about the amount of money that has been taken out of there to benefit Alberta. I'd also like to ask about the vocational school that they stated in the past would have to be set up outside of the reserve area. I would like to have specifics in the area that we could negotiate on with the importance of keeping it within the reserve.
Jennifer Klimek: Any further questions? I think we've concluded what we see are the concerns that arise from the written documents. I think you can see there are a lot of unanswered questions that the Commission would like to have addressed. Until we get those addressed we're not going to be able to fully appreciate what the federal and provincial governments put forward. As far as the public hearings, they'll resume at 1:30 when Bill Phipps from the Taskforce of Churches presents to the Commission. We'd like to invite you all to come back at that time for his presentation. We'll adjourn for now until then.
For the record of the people who are here today, we have received two written submissions -- one from the Mennonite Central Committee and one from the Taskforce on the Churches and Corporate Responsibility -- and we'd like to read these aloud at this time. Menno will read the one from the Mennonite Central Committee now.
Menno Wiebe: This is a communication from June 26 to Father Jacques Johnson. The cover letter goes as follows:
"Dear Rev. Johnson:
"As a provincial body, the Mennonite Central Committee (Alberta) would like to commend the Commission for giving attention to the Lubicon - Government negotiations. MCC Alberta would like to offer support to the Lubicon Cree and therefore we would request that you read the attached brief to the entire Commission members on our behalf.
"We thank you for your assistance in sharing our concerns.
"Sincerely, Bill Janzen, Executive Director, Mennonite Central Committee, Alberta"
Here is the communication to the Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review:
"Dear Commission Members:
"Mennonite Central Committee Alberta would like to thank the Commission for their attention to the Lubicon-Government negotiations. We understand that one of the firm, non-negotiable components of the Lubicon counter-offer is a request for those who brought their former economy to a stand-still to know generate an alternative long-range economy. This alternative economy could include both an agricultural component and a forestry component. The Mennonite Central Committee would like to express its support for an alternative economy of this nature for the Lubicon Cree.
"We would like to also express our willingness to work at close range with the Lubicon in the development of agriculture and forestry alternatives. In the past, MCC has been involved with the Lubicons in the areas of gardening, agriculture surveys, health assessments and justice advocacy. This summer we have two young men living in the Little Buffalo community and working at the gardening projects and community development.
"As an organization we have had past experience in working in communities, both in Canada and overseas, to establish long-range alternative economic possibilities. In the area of agriculture, we have had extensive overseas experience as well as an Alberta constituency with a strong agricultural background. We are also involved in economic development in the area of forestry with other Native communities in Canada. Currently we are working with the Chief and Council of Buffalo Narrows Band in Kenora, Ontario to organize a lumber industry which is environmentally responsible and that benefits the community itself.
"MCC strongly believes that the Lubicon Cree need to establish a viable alternative economy. Their current dependency on welfare is extremely destructive. We therefore would offer our support to the Lubicon Cree in mutually exploring concrete alternatives which would provide an alternative long-range economy.
"We appreciate your willingness to consider our request.
"Sincerely, Bill Janzen, Executive Director, MCC Alberta."
Jennifer Klimek: We've also received a letter from the Taskforce on Churches and Corporate Responsibility dated June 24, 1992, addressed to the Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review, c/o Father Jacques Johnson.
"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:
"1. the Lubicon should be provided with an adequate land base;
"2. the Lubicon should receive support adequate to achieve self-sufficiency; and
"3. past and present benefits derived by the federal and provincial governments and private enterprise from natural resources extraction should be taken into account.
"Financial compensation for past resource extraction and special economic development funding are two important elements included in 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"
This concludes our morning session and we will reconvene at 1:30.
Menno Wiebe: I would like to ask a question on procedure. What was the thinking of the other members of the Commission here about making interim recommendations from this Commission? I'm not sure whether we're operating on the assumption that we wait until it's all complete and we put all our information together and then make recommendations. What would be your feelings if we made interim recommendations? Could that be picked up later so that I could table this question for later on?
Jennifer Klimek: I think we should probably table it. If anybody else wants to discuss that we'll put it in our agenda for the long-term plans.
Menno Wiebe: That would be satisfactory to me.
Don Aitken: I would suggest that having received these two presentations that we acknowledge the receipt of them to the presenters and mention that they'll be taken into consideration and that in fact they fall very much in line with some of the questions that were asked this morning. I think one thing in particular just speaking to the submissions -- both of which I thought were quite good and quite to the point -- was one of the questions that I had suggested with respect to a moratorium on profits; but I think another point that was very appropriate here is that no new major industrial development be done. I think that's also an important point that they have made here, which complements I think a number of the points that we've made this morning.
Jennifer Klimek: One further comment I'd like to make on Don's is that I think one thing we did want to ask of the federal government is why there isn't any firm economic proposal in their agreement for the Lubicons, and how they perceive these people surviving if they accept what the government has offered them.
Sandy Day: Particularly in light of their geographical location, I think it's important that that be taken into consideration as well, because they are in an isolated area.
Jennifer Klimek: I would like now to finally adjourn this morning's session and we will resume at 1:30. Thank you.
Jacques Johnson: I'm very happy to welcome all of you here for the Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review hearing this afternoon, the 29th. Please feel at home. There is coffee and tea up front. Please help yourself any time. I would like to introduce the members of the Commission that are sitting this afternoon. On left is the co-chair Jennifer Klimek. Then Sandy Day from High River, Alberta. Rev. Menno Wiebe from the Mennonite Committee in Winnipeg. Don Aitken, President of the Alberta Federation of Labour. Myself, Jacques Johnson of the Missionary Oblates. We are indeed very privileged this afternoon to have among us a real, live guest. We missed the live guests this morning. The federal and provincial governments have refused to appear before us. We felt very dejected for a few minutes but then with the sharing of issues and questions, we were able to surface a lot of very interesting points that we will find some way of bringing to our elected government officials down the road. But we somewhat buoyed up to have the presence of Bill Phipps this afternoon. He is a member of the United Church and a very respected member indeed as the Secretary-General, or something of that nature -- Executive Secretary, which is the equivalent of Bishop in our Church. So we value greatly your desire to appear before our Commission today, Bill.
I'd like to recall that a couple of years ago or so Bill phoned me up and twisted my arm a little bit and I agreed to meet. I had breakfast with him with two of his honored guests -- Mr. Malone, chief negotiator for the federal government and his sidekick, Mr. Colby, who was I think a PR person at the time, for the federal government. And we had a long breakfast and the conclusion of our discussions with them was: "Why don't you churches," Mr. Malone told us, "put together some kind of a process whereby maybe through a person -- in particular -- you could come up with a third opinion." I don't know if he really meant like a legal binding arbitrator. But that was his suggestion. Bill looked into it and phoned the former Judge Berger in Vancouver. We explored the responsibilities, but it didn't seem to be a very sound one at the time. But then came the idea of the Commission and I think the Commission is indeed trying to be that honest broker between the Lubicons and the federal government and the provincial government in bringing about a resolution to this long drawn-out negotiation process.
So I know that Bill is a very interested party in regard to the Lubicons, by this pressure on Prime Minister Mulroney that this breakfast took place. I would like to now invite Bill Phipps on behalf of the Church group that went to visit the Lubicons about 2 or 3 weeks ago to report to us.
Bill Phipps: Thank you very much. Thanks Jacques. That certainly was a good breakfast. I want you all -- I forget who paid for it.
Jacques Johnson: Malone did.
Bill Phipps: Oh boy, we're probably in his pocket then.
It's good to be here. I guess the first thing I wanted to do is thank whoever thought up the idea to have an independent Commission, because we do need something that has not been tried, some group of people with some independence to try to break open the negotiations and try to get this 53 year matter settled.
I guess in my capacity here I want to represent a number of people. One is in the trip that we took to Little Buffalo a couple of weeks ago I was officially representing the Moderator of the United Church of Canada. I think that's only important in the sense that I am here to represent the whole United Church of Canada nationally, as well as in my capacity as Executive Secretary of the Alberta and Northwest Conference of the Church, which is one of our regional expressions. The other group is the Edmonton Interchurch Committee for Aboriginal Rights. Our chairperson John Stellingwerff is also here. I hope he will speak a little bit later. The Interchurch Committee is associated with the Aboriginal Rights Coalition nationally, which is a coalition of churches and aboriginal people trying to be in solidarity on aboriginal issues throughout the country. So I think that the people we represent are not just ourselves and not just churches in this part of Canada, but the ecumenical movement of churches throughout the country. So it's with that kind of representation that I speak.
I think for the record it's probably also important to reiterate some of the involvements over the years. I guess we first became involved in 1984 when the church leaders went up to Little Buffalo in response to the World Council of Churches initiatives when they were meeting in Vancouver. Ever since then we've been involved in all kinds of different lobbying activities, ecumenically as well as on behalf of the United Church. We've been involved twice in Little Buffalo, participated in many public rallies here in Edmonton and Calgary and other places, educational events at churches and other places, preaching, articles and I would even say pastoral care of some people in the Lubicon Nation. Jacques has already mentioned our meeting with Malone, but we've also met with other government people. In fact I remember meeting with a couple of Bishops -- Bishop Sjoberg and Bishop Clark -- with Ken Colby when he was working for Norcen back in 1984. So there're a whole series of involvements and relationship over the time, and the involvement has been pretty extensive over this period.
I do have our press statement which we gave to the press, released after our visit a couple of weeks ago -- I'll leave that with you -- where we discovered, no surprise to you, that the conditions have deteriorated substantially since 1984. Kids dropping out of school. Much more abuse of alcohol. Unemployment. All the kinds of community deterioration that you would expect of people who have been living under such dreadful pressure without much in the way of economic activity for so long. I guess it was surprising to me that they were in as good shape as they were. They were able to put on a community meal for us. Then 35 or so people stayed around afterwards to talk to us. To me that's pretty significant when you're in such a demoralized and depressing state physically, mentally and spiritually -- in all ways. And I think we were re-confirmed in the observation of the loss of culture, the loss of a way of life, the loss of what is meaningful, what gives their life meaning.
I started to imagine what it would be like for myself. I don't think people understand what that means very well. At least, I have a hard time trying to interpret it to people. I think of myself as a totally urban person. Edmonton's the smallest place I've ever lived. And if I was taken from my job and my home and everything that I know and put in the middle of Little Buffalo or someplace else like that, and dropped there, and they said: "Okay, have fun. See you later". And I had to survive -- not only survive but be taken completely out of all my socialization, all my contacts, everything that gives meaning to my life, the whole bit, and just dropped there. I don't think I'd last -- I don't know how long a human body lasts -- but I wouldn't last very long. It's that kind of total change of environment and context that we are witnessing. I think for people to understand that -- and maybe when we talk to government people we have to say the same kind of thing -- you be dropped someplace without any resources and in fact your resources taken away from you and see how you make out for 50 years or for however long it takes. I think we have to realize that it's only within the last 15 or so years that there has been the total invasion from the south, total invasion of the non-native society into that community. That's only a third of my lifetime ago. You have to put it in that kind of context that here are people whose whole way of life has been invaded and destroyed and the occupiers and still there doing what they know how to do. I think in some ways genocide may be too strong a word. I know it's a word we always debate using in things like press releases. Do we say genocide or not? How will people take it? Are we exaggerating? Well, maybe. I don't know. I'm not a sociologist or an anthropologist. It may not be genocide, but it's damn close to it. It's damn close to doing away with everything that makes a culture be what it is, be who it is. And by some people's definition it would be genocide. And it's a very slow process. We're not lining them up by the trees and executing them. We're just slowly doing it -- drip by drip by drop.
I think personally, and I think the churches feel that the delay in settling this has been a total disgrace, not just on behalf of governments but on behalf of all of us, for somehow not being able to have the political will to settle. If one is cynical you would have to say that the whole idea is to get the resources out of the ground before there's a settlement. Let's steal everything there is to steal, that's worth anything to the non-native economic world. And then after we take it all and it's all destroyed -- Oh, gee, we've found a solution, when it's of no use to our society any more. If you're cynical you'd say that. So I guess when you write your report, when you've heard from people, how cynical you want to be or how accurate that in fact is, as to why this has taken so long.
You'd also have to think that there's some sort of a divide and conquer thing here. I mean, the creation of the Woodland Cree and so on, so instantly, that makes one thing clear: there's not only a benign thing here, there's an active policy which is trying to destroy those people. 53 years is too long. We could talk longer about that, but I know you've heard that kind of testimony from people.
I do want to pay a compliment, and that is a compliment to the Premier of Alberta who a number of years ago, I think, took some political risk in sitting down himself with the Chief and trying to come to some understanding. I know I'm pretty naive in some of these things in political ways, but I think that Don Getty took some political risks in doing that. I think there was some actual communication probably between those two people as they sat down together, and it looked like there was the beginning of progress, the beginning of a settlement. I think everybody was feeling very positive about that...(change tapes)...to Getty since then. I think it's too bad. I think he could still be exercising some political leadership like he did at that point.
But I do want to say that the whole story hasn't been entirely bad from the political side. I think somebody tried to take some initiative, but for whatever reason, it didn't go far enough or it didn't go very far at all.
Now to move on to the proposal, I'm not going to go through the Lubicon Nation proposal. You've got it and you've heard their arguments. But as a lay person reading it, and reading it a number of times and trying to understand it, it seems to make sense. Now maybe there's all kinds of reasons why it doesn't make sense or it's too much or it's off the mark. But it seems to make sense to me. I guess what I don't understand is we have not seen a valid government response to it. We've seen a government proposal or a government idea but we haven't seen them go through the thing and say, "Well, we agree with this, we agree with this, these figures are totally unrealistic if you're trying to establish this kind of an agricultural thing." We haven't seen them say point by point what is wrong with the Lubicon proposal. So I'd ask the question what is the government's opinion with respect to the specific economic ideas put forth by the Lubicon people. I think the burden of proof now is on the government to say these ideas don't make any sense, or they do. What is their opinion about it? Why are the Lubicon numbers too high? I mean, if they certainly agree on schools and roads and houses and stuff like that, why are the figures too high for developing some of the jobs they're trying to develop and the training programs they're trying to develop? Are those number unrealistic or what?
The other question about that has to do with Fulton's report. What ever happened with his recommendations? I mean, I still don't really understand, and I haven't heard a valid explanation from anybody -- I've talked with some of the Lubicon advisors and I know what their opinion is -- but I haven't heard why the Fulton recommendations -- I haven't heard exactly...why they were rejected by the very government that asked him to do his work. So I think in terms of your job, the public -- because it's been a very public issue -- has a right to know these specifics. What is specifically wrong with the Lubicon proposals? What specifically happened with Fulton's report and why was it not accepted? What were the problems with it?
I know one of the things the government says is they're concerned about a precedent and paying the Lubicon people more than the going rate. Well, first of all, I don't think in my limited understanding of how the land claims process is going throughout Canada, I don't think there is such a thing as a going rate. I mean, I know if you look at the per capita amount that they're offering the Lubicon people, or what the Lubicon people are demanding, it's quite a bit more than the per capita rate that the COPE agreement gave in the Yukon Territory, the Yukon/Northwest Territories. But they are totally different situations. They're totally different people. Their economic proposals are different, etc. There's no such thing as a going rate. You could say per capita the Inuit should receive exactly the same as the Haida, as the Mohawk, as the Lubicon -- that doesn't make any sense.
Now, I can understand where the government is saying they do have relationships to each other. And we have to not be way out of whack on some of our settlements compared to others. But that shouldn't be that hard to do.
It doesn't take 7 years or whatever it is to sit down and look at the agreements publicly, you know, and say -- all right, these folks got these under these circumstances with these proposals and why. I mean, you put a wall chart there and you start looking at it and you start making your comparisons and you try to be just and fair. It doesn't take genius to do it.
Why hasn't that been done? If that's their concern, the precedent thing, why hasn't that been done, so we can actually compare them and we can say -- gee, your right. This is way out of line. I think the reason they haven't done it is because it's not probably (the case). But I think that's a valid thing to ask. It does not take a genius to do those comparative things. Why haven't they done it?
Since the land base does not seem to be an issue -- at least I understand that it's not a big issue now -- the dollars in some way should be compromised and both sides seem to be locked into the same kind of dollars that they had way back when.
Now I want to just put forth a thing about the money that's been taken out. I know that there are different jurisdictions and I understand the differences between federal jurisdiction and power and provincial jurisdiction and power and all of that stuff. Our governments have different mandates and authorities. But the fact is the oil companies, the resource companies, have taken out -- as I understand it and nobody has disputed this -- at this point, in 1992, in the neighbourhood of $6 billion from Lubicon traditional lands. Now nobody has disputed that when it appears in the press or anywhere else. So I'm taking that that's fairly accurate. Now the provincial government in terms of the royalties -- and again, nobody has disputed this -- therefore have realized more than a billion dollars. That's you and me as taxpayers of this province. We have realized a profit of over a billion dollars from traditional Lubicon lands. Now it seems to me that nobody is arguing particularly that our system or us because as taxpayers we're beneficiaries of the royalties, we have destroyed a group of peoples' livelihood, we've destroyed their culture, we've destroyed their way of life, we've destroyed their soul, we've taken all these things for a huge financial reward for us. It's cost an awful lot to do. I'm talking about human lives and souls and all that. I hope you realize how important that is. But monetarily as well. It's cost them a lot and we have benefitted a tremendous amount, and they've gained nothing in terms of financial rewards. They're asking for in the neighbourhood of $170 million, give or take a few million, or two or three. As I calculate it, $170 million is 2.3% of $6 billion. Now in investment terms they are therefore asking very little. In terms of the investment on their land, even if the federal government and the province together agreed on $170 million, that's still only a 2.3% return on the resources on their land. Just talking strictly financially. I don't think there's anybody -- let alone anybody in Mulroney's Cabinet or in Don Getty's Cabinet -- who would accept that kind of return on their money. I could make a quip about NovaTel but that's probably not appropriate right here. But who accepts 2.3% return on their money? Nobody. And that's strictly financially -- forget about human lives and all the things that are far more important than money. Strictly financially, that's the only return that they're asking for. It's peanuts compared to what the resource companies have achieved and what we as taxpayers have achieved. So it seems to me therefore that if the federal government kept their $45 or $50 million proposal on the table, why couldn't the province provide $100 million for investment in economic development as payment for the totally destroyed way of life and economy of the people. $100 million out of $1 billion is not a lot of money. That kind of thing seems fairly logical to me. Now I know the province and all the jurisdictional stuff -- that they're not involved in this. But it seems to me in logical terms and in terms of whose benefitted from these lands financially, that the province should be involved and that somehow the package, the comprehensive agreement should involve provincial monies as well as federal monies.
Lastly, now beyond all the legal and economic and social arguments that one can advance -- and I guess I'm assuming that you've got all the documentation and that you've heard all those things so you don't need me to pull out my briefcase and go through it again -- but beyond all of those kinds of arguments that we can advance there are strong moral grounds -- and I think our society can still talk about moral grounds for things, I don't think we're beyond that yet. At least I hope not. But there are strong moral grounds for going far beyond strict dollars to rectify centuries of injustices. There's no question that Canada has the resources, even though the jury is out on our moral fibre to use them appropriately. But we have the resources to truly recognize historical truths and embark upon a new covenant with the First Peoples. This has echoes of what the Church has ecumenically and nationally been asking for for quite some years. But I wanted to put it in to this particular case in point. When the Churches talk about a new covenant with the First Nations, they're not just talking theory somewhere, they're talking about that being applied in specific settlements with specific Nations, specific people. And this is one case which has to be solved. Continuous erosion of spirit, let alone economic, social and cultural life, is immoral and impractical. The social, economic costs if you want to add them up in dollars again to the total Canadian society is much worse than the few dollars it will cost to make a settlement. It can only lead to further disaster and worse violence than has already been done. And the violence in all its forms -- think of any violent form you want, whether it's kids committing suicide or abuse in the home or psychological violence, I don't care -- all the kinds of violence you can envisage are going on there.
My hope is that the Commission, that you can find a just compromise which gives all sides an honorable way through the impasse. Not an honorable way out. Not just a way to save face for past wrongs. But an honorable way through the impasse so that an agreement can be reached. I guess I've found out the answer. I was going to ask whether the government representatives from both levels of government are going to appear before you, and if not, why not. I would like to know that. The public is entitled to know why they did not appear, in some detail why they are not here. It seems to me that their appearance would confirm their good faith. If they are really sincerely wanting to solve this thing, they would appear before a body of citizens giving their time and their energy and their intellect and everything else to try to resolve it. If they would appear before you, I think it's an insult actually to -- not just yourselves because it's your time your taking up -- but to all of us who are trying to solve this, they're not being here. Their non-appearance seems to indicate they are not willing to budge. Is that true?
I think they have to tell us. That the slow steady deterioration is of little importance to them -- is that true? This Commission I think offers both sides an opportunity to listen to each other and to welcome independent insight so that a solution can be found. Surely the imagination, the reason, the sense of fairness and justice required can be found so that this disgrace can be transformed into a new beginning for the Lubicon people. Thank you. I don't know whether your custom is to ask any questions or how to proceed.
Jacques Johnson: First of all, I would like to thank you very much, Bill Phipps, on behalf of the Lubicon Settlement Commission. Yes, it is our practice to ask questions. I would like to turn the mike over to my colleagues here.
Jennifer Klimek: Mr. Phipps, I have one question for you. Have the church groups had any direct dialogue with the government on any of your concerns or has it been through the media? What have you done in that vein?
Bill Phipps: I think most of the dialogue has been through correspondence. I know that our Church has passed many resolutions both at the national and regional level and of course everytime we do we send them off to the Minister with copies to the Opposition Leaders and appropriate people. We get back -- sometimes in the early days we got back almost as much documentation as we get from Fred Lennarson every week -- that's supposed to be a joke, because we have to get new file space because of all the documentation that the Lubicon people provide. More recently the answers are more terse and we don't get back as much documentation and part of the reason for that I guess is that there isn't that much more beyond the last 3 years -- not much has happened in terms of more documentation. But it's mainly been by way of correspondence back and forth other than this meeting with the lawyers which Jacques and I were part of. And, you know, catching somebody at a rally or something like that. The same goes for the provincial people. It's mainly by way of correspondence. But a lot of it. A lot of correspondence back and forth over the years.
Sandy Day: Carrying on in that vein, did you send something from your recent trip?
Bill Phipps: Send something to them?
Sandy Day: Yes.
Bill Phipps: Yes. I'm going to leave this. Have you already got this? I'll leave it with you anyway. You can copy it. I wrote to Mr. Siddon with copies to the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the New Democrat Party in Ottawa as well as a copy to the Prime Minister, stating the background for the visit, why we were there, reminding them of our history over the thing, our current press release -- in fact thanking Siddon saying I'm glad you went up there. I think he could have looked around the community a little more and we can criticize his visit in a variety of ways but the fact is he's the first federal Minister to go there. That's a good step. Why don't you come to the Commission. It looks like there's a little bit of opportunity there. We're tried to encourage him as much as possible, as well as bring him up to date on our views. I sent the same material to Don Getty and to the appropriate Opposition parties.
Menno Wiebe: Bill, part of what we think the Commission is learning -- not to jump ahead too fast -- is that there may be economic and political reasons for delay, the delay may be to the advantage of one party or another. So we're trying to sort that out. You participated in the Lubicon blockade in October of 1988. That was a means of arresting the attention, the assertion of jurisdiction on Lubicon land. Could you give us a little feedback in terms of that as a means of prodding or speeding up negotiations. You did talk about the Grimshaw Agreement. I would like to hear a little more interpretation of that event from you closer to the scene than some of us were.
Bill Phipps: Well, you were there too. But in some ways that's a hard question to respond to, because I've felt in my political activism that's rooted in what I hope is my ethical understanding of things, that something like that would be enough to draw the attention of not only the public but government people and so on to come to the table seriously. You look back at all the different kinds of things you do -- all the way from letter writing and phone calls and blockading the land to boycotts of Daishowa or whatever -- you look at all the different tactics you use and all the legal routes you take and you look back on this and you say what the hell difference did it make. I mean, one difference it made I suppose is that we're still here and we haven't forgotten about the Lubicon people and their plight. But we're no closer to a settlement now than we were four or five years ago. Maybe I'm getting off what you wanted me to talk about in your question, but it reminds me of my amazement, my absolute amazement at the patience and the fact that the Lubicon folks would hang in there this long with this non-native, non- system that we have of listening and responding to people. I mean, you could almost say that in almost any other country in the world, there would have been some severe semi-military violence. Like it's -- you sit down with Bernard, and I am just amazed at the person. The fact that he would even still talk to anybody whose non-native because of what I represent. I mean every time I sit down with him or visit with any of the Lubicon people it's almost embarrassing -- and not because I don't think I'm a decent person -- but I represent a society to him surely whose sense of morality and decency is almost zero. Why do they even bother with people like us. So when I look at tactics like that, it's almost in desperation, you almost say -- gee, we've got to find some way short of that semi-military thing, of getting people's attention. What do you have to do. So when I look back on that I think that was a tactic that got a little bit of attention for a while. The press was there. This was wonderful. We're all excited because it might appear on the CBC National. The CBC Journal might interview you for 2 or 3 minutes. That's great. What's the result? So here we are trying to find other tactics to get attention. I don't know if that's what you were fishing for or not.
Menno Wiebe: This Commission is searching for ways that will break the impasse. Do you have some guidance for us based on that and subsequent experiences, or suggestions that could be taken by this Commission. I think of the fact that there were 13 countries represented at the Lubicon blockade. It was highly international. You had representation by the major churches of Canada, representing actually a substantial population. So there was ecumenical action. The churches were together speaking with one voice on this. You had the international press empathetic, sympathetic to the case. We have in our country formal procedures, processes, MLAs, MPs, we have courts, we have a whole department called Indian Affairs and Northern Development. The existing structures seem not to be accommodating the issue of the Lubicon. So from your position here in Edmonton, and from your Interchurch group, do you see some other mechanisms within our democratic system that could be employed that would break the impasse? This prolongation of the negotiations seems to be to the advantage of either the government or the corporations.
Bill Phipps: I guess one -- there's two things and this probably goes back to my small "l" liberalism rather than radical action at this point. I think there's a couple of places where we fell down. I don't think we have approached the corporations enough. I think the Daishowa boycott has had some effect and I think Daishowa is probably listening to that a little bit. I think that is somewhat effective. The other thing I was going to talk about are MLAs and MPs who do have some kind of sense of this. I remember some of us had a meeting with Jim Edwards one time. Now I don't think Jim is known as your flaming, left-wing radical particularly, but he sat down with us about the Lubicons. He heard our story of it. I don't think he knew very much about it. I don't think he was getting a lot of propaganda from whoever the Minister was at that point or Mulroney. I think he was wanting to find out about it. He said, "If you'd like me to set up a meeting of some of our caucus to hear more about this I'd be glad to arrange it." Some of us fell down in not taking him up on that. That was a few years ago. But it seems to me that there probably are MLAs and MPs who also think that there's something wrong here, that there's a disgrace going on here, that there's something wrong particularly I would hope Alberta MLAs and MPs. And maybe what we have to do is find out who the semi-sympathetic ones might be of all parties and try to have some kind of meeting with those guys to present exactly what we see the issues as being, what your findings are, and even if the Minister won't come here, maybe some MLAs and MPs want to find out because they're getting pressure from people. And if there could be some pressure exercised from those people through to the government, that's one place I don't think we've explored enough. And especially because of your role as an independent group with a mixture of people, it might well be possible to have sort of an all-party group of MLAs and MPs who are concerned about this and who might want to put some pressure on.
Now another thing, of course, is far more direct action. I mean, what would happen if everybody in this room including your colleagues who are not here and other church people who are not here just went to Getty's office, for example, and sat there -- did the old-style sit-in in his office? Or whatever. I used to have a proposal with food banks that what we should do is close the food banks for a week and set them up in the Legislature. That might show people who work there there's a problem. Just take over the basement of the Legislature and say that's where the food bank is going to be for two weeks. Have people come there. Then they actually see people who need it. Maybe we have to take far more direct action with respect to where we think the problem is. Sounds like peanuts, doesn't it? As I talk, it sounds like peanuts.
Don Aitken: Bill, first of all I'd like to thank you and your group for going up to Little Buffalo and coming and sharing your thoughts and your observations and your frustrations...we've been involved in other frustrating issues before. I think back to the time of the Gainers strike when we found ourselves very powerless, but in the end, the end result, unfortunately Albertans are still paying that price. I guess it had to end up being a bribe by this government to Peter Pocklington before we could get it resolved. That had to be done. But that came about as a result of a lot of pressure including the change the law campaign and all the other things that went along with that. The reason it was resolved in the end was because there was something to be gained by both sides by resolving it. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said it doesn't seem like they want to resolve this.
I think it's because -- we had an earlier discussion having gone over the federal government's position -- it's not necessarily, it's questionable whether it's in their interests to resolve it because they are only winners. They're never losers. There's only one loser and that's the Lubicons. I guess one of the things that we talked about is how we could get them to go from a win-lose situation to both sides losing or both sides winning; and being able to put that pressure to bear that there is going to be some incentive to resolve this thing. I think some of the things that we talked about -- the blockade and those kinds of things -- one of the things we talked about was to try to force -- not necessarily force at this stage -- but to perhaps have a moratorium on royalties going into government coffers going into a special trust fund and perhaps even a moratorium on profits being taken out of the area, which would give some incentive to somebody to resolve it other than just the one side who wants an agreement. Have you got any thoughts on that or any way that we could in fact put the government in a situation that they would be better off by having this resolved than they would be by not having it resolved?
Bill Phipps: I'm not sure why it is not in their interests to resolve it. It seems to me, when I looked at when Getty went up and did the Grimshaw thing, that he got a lot of positive political mileage from all parties for that. I'm not one known to support the government in Ottawa or here on very many things. Yet I was impressed by that step. No other Provincial Premier to that point had done that with their land claim things. I think he got a lot of positive political mileage out of the general public and from people who vote for all 3 parties. I think that Mulroney...(change tapes)...they talked about cultural genocide and Trudeau had a fit. He was really embarrassed. And he was embarrassed enough that it created all this stuff, and that's really why we're here because there was such a furor at that time that a whole bunch of people got working on this thing. So I don't quite buy the argument that they've got nothing to gain. I think they've got a lot to gain, even if it's just votes, which is important to both these governments as they head into elections in the next year. Like financially, as far as I understand, there's not necessarily any cut-off of all the royalties that are coming out of there now. The land that they're talking about in terms of a reserve is not where most of the oil activity is. So they're not going to lose anything in terms of losing that resource, the oil companies and by implication the taxpayers. That's what I don't quite understand. That's why I think if people from all parties will sit down and look at the thing in terms of some kind of reasonable logic as well as doing what's right that something might be able to happen. Now maybe it has to happen with you guys suggesting that...but I guess I don't buy the argument that they've got nothing to win. I think both governments have a lot to win. Wouldn't you like to be the Minister who's signing this agreement and say: "This has been outstanding for 53 years. I'm the Minister who made an agreement with this people. We intend to settle these claims." This is one of many. Isn't that what politicians want? They want to be known for being able to solve these kinds of problems. It seems to me that a politician has a tremendous amount to gain.
Don Aitken: I don't disagree with you. I think that -- we know in politics there are three things that count -- timing, timing and timing. We're coming into elections and so if there's ever any time that that political advantage, that they would see it as a political advantage, it would be now. Whereas after an election, they would have to wait until the next window of opportunity which could be two or three years down the road if that. But you're right, there is an opportunity for political pressure to be brought to bear that could make a difference.
Bill Phipps: Along with that, I don't think either of these governments is totally secure in their re-election opportunities. I think that everybody knows that. Therefore I would think they would want to show some activity in area in which the Canadian people have expressed a strong interest.
Jacques Johnson: Bill, you mentioned something about being a taxpayer and knowing the sensitivity of taxpayers to the disbursements of monies from the federal coffers or the provincial coffers to different projects, you seem to be quite at ease if not lackadaisical about the $170 million that the Lubicons are claiming for redress and for compensation and for a chance to establish a viable economy. But from a taxpayer's point of view, isn't that a humongous sum of money -- $170 million for say 500 people? Do you feel that the average citizen in this country would feel that's an okay settlement for these 500 or so aboriginal people?
Bill Phipps: I'd say two or three things to that. First of all, I guess I assume that some compromises are going to have to be made. I think maybe not only should the federal government compromise a lot, but maybe the Lubicons are going to have to compromise too. There's going to be some way that's different than $170 million, or $50 or $47 million or whatever it is they're offering. That's one thing. And I think that's one of the difficult things for you to be able to do is to listen to all of this stuff and, as I said, find a way through the impasse that both parties can walk together honorably on. So there's got to be some compromise somewhere someway, and that's going to be a tough job.
Beyond that, regardless of how much money it is -- it's got to be substantially more than the feds are offering -- I think the Canadian taxpayer -- again I make a comment about NovaTel. I mean, they seem to have money to throw at a lot of other things that the Alberta taxpayer doesn't appreciate much. I don't think there's any question if the Alberta taxpayer wanted to spend $170 million for Lubicon Cree who live in Alberta and pay taxes in Alberta, etc., they'd rather do that than give it to NovaTel who gives it to Americans. That's sort of a cheap shot, maybe. But I think people do make comparisons. And I think people says, "Well, they're spending all this money here. This doesn't seem like that much in comparison."
But even more importantly, and I think maybe people who worry about the money mis-read this, I sense that the Canadian people see the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, or the whole "Indian establishment" -- I mean, it's really a non-Indian establishment -- that we have as costing a fortune, costing billions of dollars, much of it ending up in non-Native hands, bureaucratic hands like me -- I'm a bureaucrat for the church. And I think people are fed up with that. There's got to be a better bang for the buck. If taxpayers are going to spend money on things related to aboriginal people, we've got to do a better job than we're doing now. I think people are fairly fed up with it.
If I understand the Lubicon proposal -- this is why I want to hear the specifics of why it's not appropriate -- here's a proposal that says "Look, it may not be all that great, but our hope is that if we start from small businesses that will train people and that will give jobs, then we'll get people off welfare." Well, those are three things that the Canadian people want. The Canadian taxpayers do not want their money just going to welfare payments and to keep people on welfare. Right? And the Lubicon proposal, as it's been explained to me 500 times by Fred and Bernard, says, "We want to get people off of welfare." There's no Canadian taxpayer who would disagree with that. "We also want to train young people." No Canadian taxpayer doesn't agree that our young people need training and jobs that are positive and that exist. "And economic activities, the small business that we want to create are practical and related to our life, whether it's a gravel pit, an old folks' home or whatever it is." And I look at the proposals and I say, "Well, they've got a possibility of working." And I think Canadian taxpayers say, "Gee, if these guys have a proposal that gives them a little bit of an economy based on small businesses that are going to succeed that will get them off welfare, etc." -- they'd say, "Three cheers, that's a terrific investment". The trouble is the government says, "$170 million. You're greedy". But nobody explains what that's for. That's why to me it's a logical thing that makes sense to people right across the political spectrum as taxpayers.
So I don't think that's a lot of money. I think people would look at that and say, "Gee, that's a pretty good investment if we can do that." And I think a sidebar to that that we can't ignore is that our society has taken out $6 billion from their land. So to put $170 million back, as I say, is peanuts. That's almost like harvesting my garden and going out and buying a few seeds to put back in the ground.
So I don't buy that argument. But it's got to be put more clearly. That's why I think if you guys can get people around the table to talk honestly about the actual proposals they've put forward, and flush out why the government doesn't like it, what's practically wrong with it -- I don't think there's much practically wrong with it. That's a long answer to your question, but I think it's a bogey person, to throw that out. I don't think it's real.
Jacques Johnson: That answers my question. Thank you very much. I would like to take on the suggestion you made that there may be somebody else representing the churches who may like to share something with us. We'd be happy to hear you out if you'd like to take a chair. Please introduce yourself.
John Stellingwerff: Thank you also for the opportunity for myself to have the floor and address you. My name is John Stellingwerff. I am the chairperson of the Edmonton Interchurch Committee for Aboriginal Rights. I've been chair of this committee since the past November and part of the committee for just over a year. It's been just over a year that I moved to Edmonton, so I'm relatively new to this situation. I work as a pastor in the Christian Reform Church. My title is Director of Ministries with Indian and Metis People in Edmonton, working at developing ministries with urban Natives. I also have just completed a Master's Degree in Social Work through McMaster's University and wrote a research project on the situation with the Lubicons using them as a case study, and also using theories put forth by social scientists and theologians, and trying to predict with those theories the potential for further violence or for violence to happen in this kind of situation with aboriginal people across Canada as we saw, for example, at Oka.
I guess just a few things I would like to add to what Bill Phipps has been saying is that I went up also on the tour of Lubicon country a few weeks ago and came back completely appalled and overwhelmed at the conditions that the Lubicon people are living in. I've never been to a Third World country but in my work as a pastor I've been involved through World Vision and different relief agencies from our denominations in talking with missionaries and hearing about conditions in Third World countries and never realized that the poverty and despair and the conditions would be so poor as they are in this country -- one of the richest Nations in the world. I came back with a better understanding and more compassion and a sense of urgency that this situation needs to be resolved.
I think we mentioned cultural genocide, Bill Phipps mentioned that a way of life's destroyed, and that's exactly the way I see it. I don't see that word as being too strong at all. The Lubicon people and many aboriginal people across the country have faced cultural genocide, their way of life is gone forever. For Native people that includes their spiritual life, their social life, because they have a life that is more holistic than I think we're used to in all those areas. And it showed in the despair that we heard, in the stories that we heard of alcoholism, alcohol abuse, increasing amounts among young people and teen-agers, the number of deaths that people were telling us about, still-born children, that kind of thing -- all a result of the despair and the hopelessness.
I personally am becoming more and more, as I get involved, agitated and upset that we have a government that allows this kind of thing to happen. Again, not only with the Lubicon but I think with the James Bay Cree; at this present time there is a blockade happening in northern Saskatchewan, a way of life being destroyed because of clear-cutting by different mills, pulp and paper mills. I wonder when it's going to end. I think as we talk about it, cultural genocide is happening. I fear that more situations like we saw a few summers ago in Oka -- armed confrontations -- will happen unless this is resolved.
The question was asked: are there ways to break the impasse. I'm not sure. I don't know the way government works all that well. I know many things have been tried through the courts, litigation, negotiation, there's been a blockade, there's been boycotts -- the Winter Olympics in Calgary saw a major boycott -- there's been letters written, education, and still nothing. I fear that unless something happens soon -- first of all, I should also say that across the country Indian people are asserting themselves more and more. We saw that at Oka. I fear that unless something happens we will see perhaps more violence. A year ago 13 Lubicons were charged with torching a lumber camp. I think that's an example of what may happen. This was not sanctioned by the Lubicon leadership. But when people are as oppressed and there's as much despair about facing cultural genocide, they will either die or fight back. I think that unless something happens, we're going to see more fighting back. I think it's inevitable, from reading the accounts of other people, other oppressed people and how they respond to that oppression.
We talked a little bit about a win-win situation, or lose-lose, or win-lose -- I think that if the Lubicons lose, and if this continues, we'll all lose as Canadians. I think that we must have a win-win situation, or the whole Nation will suffer.
I struggled with the question too -- $170 million, and as a taxpayer how will I deal with that. I'm a middle-class person and I'm frustrated at being over- taxed. I still have a few more weeks to work and then I will have finished paying my taxes for 1992 and everything after that is for myself, sometime in July is when we are tax-free. I'm part of a small denomination, 300,000 people in North America. We send millions of dollars annually to Third World countries -- Bangladesh, Africa -- to help poor people through missionaries, through relief. I know for myself, and I know from the people that I work with and my churches, church members, other church leaders, that if we see that justice is being done, that rights are being wronged, I think that we'll willing to pay a lot of money to see that happen. What is frustrating for me is to see our tax dollars going to high salaries and perks for politicians, to American companies, being misused and I think being misused in many ways. But if it goes to promoting justice for the oppressed people, for poor people...I think that, in my opinion, taxpayers are willing to dig deep and pay for that.
I think as a Committee that we have done a lot of work in writing our politicians; in organizing educational forums, workshops, conferences to educate people in our churches about the Native culture, Indian spirituality, how we can work together, live together; and also to encourage our people to write politicians, when election time comes to find out from our politicians where they stand, how do they view these issues, what do they think should happen. It gives me a sense of making a difference to be a part of this Committee. We will continue through this Committee to educate through newsletters, speaking in our churches on how Christian people in this country can work to make a difference, to right some of these wrongs and to bring justice to these people living within our borders.
Jacques Johnson: Thank you very much, John. Your presentation is certainly much appreciated by the Commission. I'm just wondering if there're any comments or questions?
Jennifer Klimek: I have one comment. I'm not sure it's a question, but maybe both of you can give me your views on this. It seems to me part of our problem here is that we have people making decisions who are very far removed from this situation. Having listened to you two gentlemen and the Lubicons, you put a real face on the problem, there's real people there. We have a sense of what's happening to real lives. I think when you're sitting in Ottawa or Edmonton and you're looking at papers with dollar signs and this and that, it's really hard to remember what the problem is and that delay is a real factor for the everyday lives of the Lubicons. I'm just wondering if you have any comment on whether that is a factor, and if so, how can we possibly as a Commission help break that impasse. Getting them out there, or getting less people involved, because we have a whole bureaucracy looking at it so nobody has to be responsible for the one decision when there's a hundred people to spread it over. I'd just like to get your comments on that.
John Stellingwerff: I'll comment first. I was appalled to hear that when Tom Siddon went (to Little Buffalo) that was the first time a government official at that level has been up there through this entire period of time. Personally it doesn't make sense to have negotiators, government officials, talk and comment about this without having gone up there. For myself also, it was an abstract situation. I'd done a lot of reading. There's a lot of material to read about, but to actually see and spend some time up there gives a whole different perspective. I've talked to Chief Bernard Ominayak when he's been in Edmonton and other people from the Band, but to see them in their own setting, is necessary. The other thing that struck me is the isolation of their reserve. Different people in my churches also say: "What's wrong? Why can't they just get it together and get industrious and do something"...What the land was good for and that's how they sustained themselves was hunting and trapping and that is all gone. So when you come back you feel like you've been in another world -- a small community, isolated and dependent on welfare unless they get sufficient funds to develop some long-term sustained industries. For me that was important, not only to see the human face but to see the territory they live in, the wilderness, that kind of thing.
Bill Phipps: I think that's a tough question. I don't expect -- maybe a little contrast to John -- Siddon's been on the job I don't know how long, not a long time, and it's a big responsibility. I think it's probably pretty hard at the Ministerial level or the government leader level to be visiting every little community and really understanding it. My disappointment in his visit -- I'm glad the guy went, I think he showed some energy and some initiative, and I take it at face value. I'm not going to go back and analyze all the sneaky motives there might have been there. I say the guy went, that's good. What I worry about is he didn't spend very much time there, just sort of walking around and touring around talking to people. He sort of seemed to go and go with Bernard into a building, with some other people, and then talk and then leave. That's too bad. It's too bad he didn't have people take him around a little more and just chat with people over coffee. You may be able to open that up a little bit. I understand you hope to go there yourselves. I would hope that might generate some interest in other people doing the same thing and putting that human face on it. Then the human face will be there for yourselves as well. Even though it was here when Bernard and others appeared, you'll get a little better sense of the context.
I think we can tell -- the CBC Journal in the 1984 visit of church leaders did I thought a pretty good 20-minute show on the situation. I think even though everybody in Canada can't visit Little Buffalo, a lot of people saw that video back in 1984 that Bill Cameron produced. They got some feel for it. It's not the same as going first hand, but it gave people a little bit of a feel for the actual people who live there and what happens to their daily lives and so on. Maybe we could stimulate -- they almost came up with us but they had other things on their mind including the Rio Conference on the state of the world and so on. But there's opportunities like that. John Goddard's book I think describes some of the actual stuff that goes on with people. So there're other ways than just talking with people or being there.
This brings to mind another thing. You asked us about some ideas we might have for you. I also offer the same thing. If in your analysis a church, whether it's church leaders or pastors from wherever, if you think there's a role we can play -- maybe the thing about timing that Don mentioned -- there may be a timing thing that may be beneficial, for church leaders maybe to ask for a meeting with Getty for example -- we probably won't get one with Mulroney, we might get one with Don Getty. And we could sit down and talk with him about what's going on with the people. He's been there so he has some sense of the folks. There may be a role that we can play at this time that we couldn't play a couple of years ago. So I make the same offer back and say if there's something that we should be doing that we haven't thought of, or whatever, we'd be glad to do that. If it means the national church leaders, for example, I know that periodically they met with Joe Clark on the constitution, they meet with Barbara McDougall quite often on immigration and refugee things -- that if you think there's a way and what might be accomplished by national church leaders meeting with some people in the federal government, particularly Siddon, and maybe to meet not over paper but in some other fashion, a different kind of a meeting. Use your imaginations. If you see another way of doing it, we're open to doing whatever you think we could be useful at doing.
Menno Wiebe: I wanted to address a question to John. You just finished your Master's Thesis in book form and it's stapled together already? If there's any chapter that has particular relevance to what we're talking about, including your assessment of violence as a potential, I'm just wondering if it would be in order for you to share excerpts of that with this Commission that we could enter it as part of our information?
John Stellingwerff: I brought a copy along. It's stapled together. I think the last two chapters may be helpful when I pull together theory and what's been happening.
Sandy Day: Thank you. I was going to ask the same question, because I found that an interesting aspect. There's a whole point you brought forward of the potential for violence. I think we all sense the urgency, it brings another light onto that. Thank you for bringing that forward.
John Stellingwerff: I'd like to respond a little bit more to your question, because I guess I'm feeling stronger about it as I think about it. In our Christian Reform Church we have a practice when a new pastor comes to a church that it's a top priority that that pastor visit every member in the congregation as soon as possible to find out what lives in the congregation, what are the concerns, where people are at spiritually and how are people feeling about their spiritual life, and just generally where people are at. We had Ovide Mercredi in Edmonton in January. He spoke at a church to a large gathering. He also said that -- I think he had been in his position in eight months, and in eight months he had visited 50 or 60 different reservations across the country. I think from my practice in my church and the example of Ovide Mercredi...(change tapes)...and planned the lives of these people as they have been for many years, making all kinds of decisions from their offices isolated from what's really happening. I'm not sure how much field agents or their people below them visit and talk, but I think that it's very important and it should happen more often.
Don Aitken: I was just looking for the remarks that were made by Bernard Ominayak when he spoke to us and it relates very much to one of the things you said in the first place whether they die or fight back. It was made quite clear to us that they intended to do exactly that -- die fighting back if it was necessary. I think that really illustrates how important this issue is. I think your point about taxpayers willing to pay for social justice is really a good point. You also made that point Bill. Maybe that's another point that needs to be emphasized a little more. I really take the point that you made Bill about more public exposure. We need to explain the positions more to the public. Perhaps one of the ways that we can do that on our visit is to perhaps see if we can get some media to come up and cover some of the things we're doing. And perhaps have them see if there's some way that we can air the 1984 video -- is there a copy of that around? Perhaps it wouldn't even hurt for us to have a look at that before we go up so we can have something to compare it to. At the same time perhaps we can encourage some media to run portions of that and up-date it for 1992. That may be an important thing to do, to be able to show that things have in fact gotten worse rather than better. Again, I guess the point about explaining the position to the public -- the proposal put forth by the Lubicons is a proposal that wants to make them self-sufficient, nothing more. It doesn't want to make them millionaires, which is what always seems to be the (government's) position. If there's any way for us, or your organizations dealing with portions of that proposal, so that people could understand it, in your church sermons or your study groups or whatever, so that people generally could speak a little more knowledgeably about it. Although it is out there, there's not a lot of people talking about it in depth, they're just talking about a dollar bottom-line figure, which is so easy to (discredit) if you don't know anything about it. So I think the points that you made are good ones and we'll certainly take it into consideration when we're looking at our approach towards government and some of the ways to do that. So I think that you've really given me reason to believe that there's a lot more out there that can be done. So we really appreciate your presentations.
Bill Phipps: I just want to pick up on that and say one other thing. I still believe that most people, including politicians, want to do the right thing. Now I know that there's all kinds of circumstances and other factors in there.
And a politician, like everybody in their own life, at some point has to weigh this against that and take into account all kinds of different factors. But I'm not enough of a cynic to think that politicians do not -- I'm still a fan of politicians. I'm not a politician basher. I think there are politicians in all parties who do struggle with the issues, who do struggle with the ethics of issues. They come at it from different political points of view, and different ideologies and so on. I don't care about that in many ways. I think a lot of politicians struggle with their own ethical values and what they think is right. Most people, I think, go into political life to try to do something from their point of view that is sort of the right and the proper and the good thing to do.
Now, part of the strategy I was talking about before is putting together a list of people, politicians who we think have some real interest in the Lubicon matter who really might look for a solution and want to do what's right, and meet with those people and talk to them face-to-face in the manner that you're talking about -- discuss the actual proposals and what they actually mean. And help them see what you're just talking about John, that the solution can be very reasonable and it's something that the Canadian people by and large think it's right, and what to do. And rather than being criticized for it and getting into some kind of political jam if they make a decision that's fairly favorable to the Lubicons -- rather than that they'll experience the opposite. They'll experience the Canadian people saying, "Finally the sham has gone." People are sick to death of political shams. They're saying, "These people got together and they looked at the real situation and they did what's right." Now I also happen to think it's practical too. But I've got a lot more faith in politicians and the public if the thing is put in clear, human, ethical and practical ways. And I think it's possible. I don't know. Maybe we can put our heads together and think of what to do. What would happen if we had a meeting with 10 or 15 MLAs from various parties and really had a go at the actual thing? I don't think that's totally naive.
Jacques Johnson: I'd like to ask the Commissioners if there's anything else they would like to add or ask? No?
I would like, in conclusion, to thank Bill and John for their presentations here this afternoon. They have spoken with great persuasive power and a lot of faith and care and what you communicated to us I think is very thought- provoking and very challenging. It seems to me that you've brought a very important, I would almost say new dimension into the debate. It has to do a lot with seeing the Lubicons as people, but also the people on the other side as people also, that may be moved and may be touched in some ways that they can see the advantages of seeking out a real settlement to the benefit of all Canadians and themselves also. I trust that you will continue to support the work that we are trying to do. We will try to support what you're trying to do, and maybe work together. To all our guests, I'd like to thank you all for being here this afternoon. I hope we'll see you very soon.
We've invited you to write down your names and addresses and phone numbers so that you can be on our mailing list so that we will communicate to you what's happening so that you may be able to participate again.
Thank you all very much. I now adjourn this meeting.
Go to: Transcript of Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review Public Hearing - Day Four