Transcript of Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review Public Hearing, August 06, 1992
Little Buffalo Lake, Alberta
NOTE: Tape was very poor quality and regularly inaudible as indicated by "..."
Commission Members Present:
Commission Members Absent:
Lubicon Representatives Present:
Chief Bernard Ominayak
Councillors Dwight Gladue, Walter Whitehead, Michael Laboucan Community Members
Advisor Fred Lennarson
Dawn and Rod Hill from Mohawk Six Nations
Nancy Yellowbird (Hobbema)
Drs. Heinz Lippuner & Peter Gerber, Incomindios, Switzerland
3 representatives from Friends of the Lubicon (Toronto)
Heinz Deitz & Georg Roloff, Germany
Bernard Ominayak: I think what would be appropriate at this time would be to ask Father Johnson to do an opening prayer to the gathering here today...
Jacques Johnson: In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen. God, good Creator and Father, we give you thanks for gathering us together this afternoon in Little Buffalo so that together, with an open mind, open heart, open spirit, we may seek together the truth and that we may grow in respect of your people everywhere in the world. We touch the light of your Holy Spirit so that we may, as Commissioners, listen well to what the people have to say and to give also to the people the freedom of their own Spirit so that they may feel free to speak what is in their hearts. We ask that all of us work towards justice and the well-being of the people and we pray also for government leaders, so that their minds and hearts may also be open to what is real and true and just and right. We ask this to you Father, through Jesus Christ, Your Son and Our Lord. Amen.
Bernard Ominayak: (in Cree)
Edward Laboucan: (in Cree)
Bernard Ominayak: I've already thanked the people from the Samson Nation for coming here this afternoon. Again I want to take this opportunity to thank people for coming today.
Edward Laboucan: (in Cree)
Bernard Ominayak: That was Band Elder Edward Laboucan. He was welcoming all you people here today and thanking you for taking the time to come here today. He's glad that you people had an opportunity to go visit the place where we used to live (Lubicon Lake). We hope we'll see the day when we move back to where we came from. We haven't been successful thus far in trying to get something for our people, but he hopes that with all the help a lot of other people have given us, that we're able to succeed and he hopes that the kind of an agreement that our people are looking for will benefit our people in the long run. He believes that the Creator will see the problems the people face and that at some point there's going to be better days for the Lubicons. He's not making any other statement at this point but rather is welcoming you people and thanking you for being here today.
With that, I think what I'll do is turn it over to the Commissioners and maybe ask them, first of all, to introduce themselves, or have one of their people introduce them. I'd rather have community people make presentations from here rather than me talking. They've heard me already for a number of hours and I don't think they want to do that again. I think they'd rather hear from you at this point. I think the people from Samson that were here today, they already made their presentation to the commission in support of the Lubicoon people. They also recognized that the Commission is valid and they stated that there's a lot of other Native people within this Province and outside of this Province who are glad that there is such a Commission set up to look and see what are the different positions of the three parties concerned -- our position and why the governments can't or haven't moved thus far to enable our people to start building our own future. We still hope that day is possible. So I'll ask you to introduce yourselves or have someone introduce you.
Jacques Johnson: As Co-Chair of the Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review, I am very happy to be here today. Also I'm happy to see a good number of the Commissioners present. There are 3 who were not able to make it, but I think this is probably the largest representation of Commissioners at any hearing so far we've had this year. I'm Jacques Johnson. I'm an Oblate Priest in Edmonton. I would like to ask the different Commissioners to introduce themselves.
Menno Wiebe: My name is Menno Wiebe from Winnipeg, working on behalf of the Aboriginal Rights Council, the inter-church group that addresses aboriginal rights across the nation. Actually I was ready to introduce a motion here before we get too serious. I was going to make a motion of adjournment with the proviso that we would go back to Lubicon lake and join Summer Joe and Edward Laboucan over there under the arbour where the breeze came right across the lake. I guess that's the proposed site of the settlement. It was so very pleasant over there. We really appreciate the opportunity to see that. I hope we have a good afternoon.
Sandy Day: My name is Sandy Day. I'm from High River. It's just south of Calgary. I have a small environmental business and have been involved in environmental issues on a full-time basis for probably the past eight years.
John MacMillan: I'm John MacMillan from Peace River. I think you guys know where Peace River is. I'm just a truck driver or a cat skinner, one or the other.
Normand Boucher: I'm Norm Boucher. We have a sawmill in Nampa as most of you know. I'm more than happy to sit on this board and try to help the Lubicon.
Jennifer Klimek: I'm Jennifer Klimek. I'm from Edmonton. I'm a lawyer in Edmonton.
Colleen McCrory: I'm Colleen McCrory from southwestern British Columbia, Silverton, B.C., in the ...valley, which is the Coquitny area of B.C. I've worked on forestry issues and also native issues.
Michael Asch: My name is Michael Asch. I'm a professor in the Anthropology Department at the University of Alberta. I teach anthropology...
Don Aitken: My name is Don Aitken. I'm the President of the Alberta Federation of Labour. It's my pleasure to sit on this Commission and to be here today.
Jacques Johnson: Thank you very much. This afternoon our expectations were great and yet very open-ended. We did not know for sure -- our expectations were to come and to be with you and to see and to hear you out. We certainly have questions that we want to raise also to yourselves, to your Council, to your Chief, especially regarding the federal government's new proposal that was handed to the Chief by Mr. Siddon a couple of weeks ago, I believe. If you have anything to tell us about your reactions to it, we'd be very happy to hear you out. So before we ask any questions at all, we're here principally to listen to you and we would welcome anybody who'd like to make a statement to do so. I have here before me -- I saw this on the table -- a statement of the Lubicon Lake Nation Women. There's also one here by Dawn Hill, Mohawk Six Nations. Perhaps if we could have some people make those presentations verbally and would those copies go to the members of the Commission?
Bernard Ominayak: My understanding, Father, is that the people themselves -- like the ladies and whoever is here to make the presentations -- will be making the presentations. These are only copies that are available for you people. We're a little ahead of ourselves here. With that, maybe what I'll do, because I believe in equal rights, I would like to give this opportunity to the ladies who have prepared a brief statement, to present their statement, and maybe following that up, I would like to welcome Dawn to say a few words. After that then we'll get some of the Elders to make a few remarks also. After that what we can do is maybe allow some time for questions that may come from the Commission people. So I would welcome the ladies to make any kind of comments or presentation or whatever they want to do. The floor is open.
Violet Rose Ominayak: My name is Violet Ominayak. I'd like to read this statement of the Lubicon.
We the women of Lubicon Lake Nation are tired. We are frustrated and angry. We feel we cannot wait another minute to have our land claim settled. Fifty years is too long. In those 50 years we have watched our land and lives be destroyed by Canadian governments and corporations. Our children are sick from the drinking water that oil has spilled in. They are sick from breathing the poisoned, polluted air the pulp mill has made. We are sick from eating the animals -- animals that are sick with diseases from the poisoned plants and water. Our children have nothing -- they can't breath -- even that has been taken.
Their culture, the bush life, has been destroyed by development. When we were young we lived in the bush -- it was a good life. Now, we have no traplines, nothing to hunt. There are no jobs, no money to live a decent life. We see ourselves, our men and children fall into despair, hopelessness, low self-esteem and drinking. Families are broken up like never before. Drinking and violence rise as our spirits fall.
We live our lives in constant danger. Since the blockade we have been afraid to go to certain places in town. Our sons have been beaten by white men when they say they are Lubicon. We are even afraid to say that we are who we are! The roads are dusty and dangerous to travel. The logging and oil trucks try to run us off the roads. We are afraid of the roads. We have lost young ones because of accidents on the horrible roads. We are not even safe in the bush. We are afraid to go in the bush because the white sports hunters shoot at anything that moves.
We ask why? Why us? What have we done to deserve such treatment? Why can't the government settle with the Lubicon? Why have they spent so much time and energy trying to destroy us rather than deal fairly with us? What have we done, our children, our people? What wrong have we done to the outside?
We are not dogs, but we are treated like dogs. We are people just like you. We are equal. We have every right to be here, the Creator put us here in this place. We are important. Our children are important -- our future. We have lost more than your money can ever, ever buy -- more than you can imagine, our way of life that we loved, our culture, our beautiful land, our health, our happiness. What else can we lose?
The Lubicon women demand an end to the physical, emotional, economic, cultural and spiritual destruction. We demand an end to the invasion and devastation to all spheres of our lives. We demand an end to the government and corporation warfare with our lands and lives. We demand an end to the mockery of our Nation! We demand an end to the genocide. We demand control over our lives once again. Hear our voice and our message -- we don't know if we'll be here tomorrow.
Personally I'd like to say that I hate to see the younger generation to go through the struggles that we, the older people, went through. That's all I have to say.
Bernard Ominayak: I'd like to thank Rose for her presentation. But maybe if there are questions before we get too far from her remarks -- if there are questions by the Commission at this point to the ladies, maybe we should allow those questions at this point before we get too far from it.
Jacques Johnson: Rose Ominayak, I would like to thank you on behalf of the Commission for a very, very moving and a very challenging statement that you made. It took a lot of courage to speak on behalf of the women of the Lubicon Cree Nation.
To hear the cry of your heart, you've opened a page into the lives of the Lubicons that few of us have had the opportunity to read before. I would like to thank you for your courage and your truthfulness. I would like to ask any member of the Commission if they would have something to ask the women of the Lubicon Cree Nation?
Colleen, you have the floor.
Colleen McCrory: You touched on the very human aspect of what's going on here. It must be very painful to know that these things are still going on. I guess what I'd like to touch on is from your perspective, I don't know what woman wants to answer this, in terms of since the blockade I'd like to hear some of the incidents that have happened to you with regard to industry in your community. You talk about the logging trucks trying to run you off the road. Is that a common occurrence that happens in this community? Can anyone answer that?
Violet Ominayak: When we meet these big trucks on the road, they don't go to the side for us. It's just like they own the road. Any kind of truck, chip trucks and oil trucks.
?: In terms of the social problems that I know just from what I've read...hearing in your voice the despair and hopelessness and low self-esteem...is the federal government doing anything at all to help your community at this point...I know what's happening here. What do you see as the solution?
Bernard Ominayak: I guess we're caught in a situation where there is very little movement by way of trying to deal with, for example, problems within the community because of all the fighting that's going on day in and day out, both with the governments and then we're faced with -- as the ladies pointed out -- the harassment that does take place whether in Peace River or Red Earth or any of these little towns where our people have to go. Under different circumstances, for example...the only place we've got for shopping and other things. But I think the bigger problem comes in with alcohol and that is involved where we have a community that's faced with 90% or better welfare -- the problem exists in the community and then it goes beyond that when we're outside of our community where a lot of our members are faced with a lot of these different things where you've got some bad reaction by people who are out working in the oil development, and also to a certain degree, by the people who are interested in logging or looking for work within the logging aspect of this area. So we have those factions within the different communities outside of our community. I think that's what Rose and the ladies have pointed out. I think there's been a number of accidents just recently where chip trucks which are going night and day on the roads here and all the dust and our guys are on the same road too. These guys figure they own the road so we've had a number of serious accidents that have occurred in recent times.
I guess we can go on with all the different kinds of social problems that exist within the community. For example, we have ladies who are having babies prematurely, and still-births and all these things. They are all problems I guess which may exist to a certain degree in other communities but it's something that's new to us in these last 10 or 12 years. While everybody's extracting resources off our lands and making all kinds of money off our lands, we're subject to welfare. From the legal point of view, there's no question we have a legal right to be here and we have a legal right to our lands, to our homelands, to the resources that these lands may contain. So what we see is just outright stealing by the oil development and now Daishowa with their plans to clear-cut is going to finish everything off. It's unfortunate that Daishowa has refused the opportunity to appear before you. Nevertheless, we're here and hopefully we can build a better understanding between the community and yourselves. I didn't want to jump in and take over when the ladies had appeared before, but I just am trying to bring everything into perspective about what is being said...
Colleen McCrory: One other question, and then I'll leave it to someone else -- with regards to Daishowa, do you know is there any kind of overall plan that you can look at what the impact would be over 20 years? They always give you five year management working plans -- do you have a view of what 20 years of logging will do? Will you lose 50% of the area or 75%? Is that documented anywhere?
Bernard Ominayak: Not so much documented, per se, but we've seen the areas where there's been clear-cut logging practiced in the past. For example, there's a lot of it in British Columbia and other Provinces that have been subject to clear-cut logging practices. If you're talking to Daishowa who are in the business of clear- cut logging, they sound as if they can do better than the Creator. They talk about the trees that they are going to plant in the ground. It's like it's going to start growing before they put it in the ground. So you've got all this rhetoric coming at you. But nevertheless, we've seen the kinds of destruction that has taken place when there's no regard for regulations pertaining to wildlife and the environment in general. What we've seen by way of reforestation isn't there. There's a lot of acres just back in here where they've gone in 15 years ago or 20 years ago, and you don't see no spruce there. But supposedly they've got this high-bred spruce that's going to start growing as soon as they bring it over from Japan, with a success rate that just isn't possible. Also, it's not only replanting the forests, which is certainly important, but rather we've got to see what kind of environment there will be. If they take all the trees, what do you do? How do you best bring that back? Or is it possible to bring it back? I don't believe that any human being's going to be able to compete with the Creator in what He provided. There's a lot of concerns from here about the water. We've checked into the water -- if the dioxins and poisons that Daishowa's putting into the water are going to kill the fish. Now, how far does that go. These are all the different things that we have to look at. So far we've been told that there's no money to do that kind of a study by the Alberta Government...
?: It's rumored that Daishowa is going to expand their logging, double their capacity...
Bernard Ominayak: From our perspective we've got to expect there's going to be destruction resulting from whatever approach is being employed by the pulp mills that exist in Alberta. If the pulp mills get bigger, that means bigger destruction.
That's the basic position that we have to look at, because in reforestation, there may be some places where it worked, but we haven't been able to see that and to be able to say, compare, clear-cut areas versus a natural area. I don't think there would be any comparison, unless you get into the best possible way of logging that we've been able to look at -- selective logging. Now from their point of view, that's too slow a process, it's not economically possible. But I certainly can't sit here and argue for Daishowa saying they can't do this or that, but from our point of view, the perspective of the guy that has been subject to a lot of these conditions and also has survived off the land for a lot of years, then having the outside people come in and destroy everything in a very short span of time is a terrible thing.
Jacques Johnson: I would like to give the floor to other people, but I think our concern right now is the women. Any questions to the women? Michael Asch?
Michael Asch: Thank you for your presentation. I was wondering whether the women have sat down either themselves or with other people to think about if you get a settlement, what kind of economics and areas are you interested in? Any comments?
Violet Ominayak: We just had our first meeting yesterday...
Jennifer Klimek: Rose, first of all, I'd like to thank you for your presentation today. I think one thing it brought to us...it's important that a human face is put on it...I think there's some room for that being brought to the public. Have you got any plans as a women's group on how to take your concerns from a very human, personal, emotional point of view -- so you don't just get bogged down over and over again as to dollars and cents. Have you got plans for that?
Sandy Day: I too wanted to thank you. It's not an easy story to hear, the emotion in your hearts. I guess that's why we're here, to try and help. I'd carry on in Jennifer's vein and ask if letters could be sent. I think you'd see the support of some of the other Nations, perhaps there could be support from other areas as well...this information has to get out to the people...
Menno Wiebe: We heard a very good presentation by a delegation of nine people from Little Buffalo, which included the women also but you have now spoken on behalf of the women's organization. Our job as Commissioners is to hear well and to write faithfully what we heard and then presumably to make a recommendation. Hopefully that recommendation will help. What recommendation do you want us to recommend from the women's point of view -- what do you want us to recommend at the end of our report?
Violet Ominayak: We need a fair and just settlement.
Menno Wiebe: That's number one? And with that, you're assuming that the other problems with the breakdowns, problems with the roads, etc. will be easier once you have that?
Violet Ominayak: Yes.
Menno Wiebe: To get the claim settled.
John MacMillan: I think the road probably should have been paved 4 years ago with the amount of money that the oil people have extracted from this area...There's always going to be trucks, logging trucks...like I say, it should have been done 5 years ago with the amount of money extracted from the area...there was a good road here before the oil companies...
Don Aitken: First of all, Rose, I'd like to thank you for your presentation and to tell you that I feel ashamed to be a Canadian. I've had the opportunity to travel around the world and visit third world countries and seen conditions that are appalling, but to see this in our own back yard when we have so much in this country and we've taken so much from you, it just makes me feel ashamed. I think it really brings an urgency home for us to do something about. I think it's important that people like the Prime Minister of Canada...and people with responsibility to take this seriously...we cannot put it aside. I'd just like to know, what kind of support services are now available, or are there any support services available? With the kind of genocide that you're talking about here, things just seem to be going downhill. It doesn't seem to be coming to a halt. It's one thing to have a bad situation, but if it keeps getting worse, where is it going to stop? I think we have to make sure that as much as possible, that we bring attention to it, that we stop it and reverse it. Are there support services presently available or that could be available or is there something that we could do in the interim? I guess I feel a lot of frustration from your people and from other people. I was just wondering what...
Bernard Ominayak: In so far as support services, there's very little that we have. What you've got to keep in mind in trying to deal with problems...(change tapes)...changes in diet. For example, we have people used to berries and things which were part of the diet. But now we go there to pick those berries and we've either got a well there or a pipeline. The berries are no longer there. So the people are eating a different diet altogether. Those kinds of changes and those kinds of social problems that exist in this community are hard to deal with at this point. As a leader, it's always hard for me to identify and deal with any specific problem that any specific people in the community have, but in the overall sense we try and keep it at least manageable to a certain degree, we're partially dealing with all the problems at all times, keeping in mind that there's a lot of restrictions as to what's possible at this point. I for one knowing that if and when it is at all possible to get a fair and just settlement for our people, it isn't going to be the answer to all of our problems at this point. It's going to be a long haul before we're able to get back to where we came from ten or twelve years ago. But I still have hope that it's going to be possible at some point for our people to get back on their own two feet, if it is possible to achieve some of the plans that we have.
Jacques Johnson: Thank you, Bernard. I was thinking about the statement of the women and the Commission is receiving your statement with gratitude and emotion, I might add. I would like to suggest that if there are members of the media who would like a copy of this important document that I think the Commission would be happy, I'm sure, to let you have a copy of that. I don't know if there is anything else that members of the Commission would like to ask the women of the Lubicon Cree Nation?
Bernard Ominayak: Keep in mind that there's still one or two presentations to be made.
Jacques Johnson: Maybe we should move on then?
Dawn Hill: I'd like to also thank Rose and the women that were too shy to come up that collectively wrote the letter. I think the power of women is very, very important to any Nation's struggle and that it's really great to see you moving and to hear what you have to say and to be heard. I think that's very important. To the Commission, I'd like to introduce myself. I'm Dawn Hill from Six Nations. I'm a Mohawk. I'm also almost an anthropologist, but I'm speaking to you today as a Mohawk person rather than as an academic. I wrote a statement but I don't know how much I'll stick to it. I'm sure that you have heard of the Confederacy of the Iroquois people. I am a member of that traditional government. We have our own philosophies, our own constitution. We have a constitution that demands that we are obligated to other Nations. Given that, many of our people have visited here...intermittently since the blockade. Through myself, through several other members of the Confederacy, we have been reporting to our government and trying to understand why it is the way it is out here. We've been monitoring, we've sent letters to the government, we've sent letters to the corporations. If you have toured the community, you've heard from the women, which I have heard from many times -- I guess you can imagine the stage that they're at. It is a warning that things are getting to a very, very serious state and that these people are beginning to feel like the only way they are going to be heard, or the only way they are going to get anywhere is if they make a more aggressive stand. We all hope and pray that it will never come to that. And we're still praying that it never, ever comes to that. As a Mohawk I can speak to how little violence actually does solve any problems, as seen by our situation back home. However that is a reality in this community, and I've been here quite a bit in the last 4 years. I have seen many of the people that started out very, very trusting, very quiet, very peaceful, become very, very hard and fall into despair. That's not an easy thing to witness without becoming utterly angry and (wonder) why this government can continue to do what it does to Native people.
We have reviewed the new government proposal and we have found it not as sincere as we had all hoped, but then again that's the Lubicon's position, not ours. We're simply here to support them in every way possible. Our people are prepared to support them in any way possible, in any way that they asked. So far they have asked for moral and spiritual support which we have tried very hard to provide given very little resources to work with. As Rose talked about the problems within the community, right now these people are hanging on with their heart and soul. That's about all they have to work with. There is nothing. There are no services. All there are is good-hearted people to come out there and hold their hand and get through one more day of what's put on them. I've sat with people who have lost a great deal, late at night, and listened to their stories, and they are so tragic that I probably wouldn't be able to tell you even one of them. I can tell you that even one person in here hasn't been touched by tragedy again and again. They don't even have time to recover from the last one when another happens. So her cry is very, very real. It's all because of greed. There's billions of dollars, this land has more than enough to provide for what they're asking. It's absurd that they're forced to live through what they are. As a Native person, a Native woman, I for one will stand by them in any decision that they make, and I will try to help them because I believe it's a human rights struggle. It has to be from my perspective one of the worst cases of human rights abuse that I've ever witnessed or I've ever documented.
What I wanted to highlight was the human cost. As you said, a lot of what's gotten out there has been legal. It's been wrangling over band membership, over things that really don't mean too much to the average person. We just see a lot of legal jargon about aboriginal rights. It really boils down to the simple fact that these people were here, it's their land, they haven't received anything for it and they're being attacked. New bands are being created to try and destroy them. There's a section of the Indian Act that empowers the Minister with complete authority over who is aboriginal, who you are, band membership. That goes against everything that you hear in the media about self-government. So I hope that you see that kind of legislation all through from the caveat on to using Section 17 and paying people $1,000. I know women that have been told if they sign up with the Woodland Cree they'll receive $1,000 per head. You tell that to somebody who's making $300 a month to get by. It really is a brutal way to deal in a democratic society with the people who really have done nothing to deserve it.
With that I would just ask you to take back what you have seen...think about it in terms of how hard it is for these people to hang on day by day. And why should people like myself and the people that have been coming out here to support them spend all our resources and all our energy to hold somebody's hand through another tragedy, when we would be more than happy to turn around and use our skills to help them do whatever it is that they want to do. It is a complete drain of money and human resources. I'd like to say that I hope that the women do continue to meet and to work. But then I also understand their position that they don't really feel comfortable in the outside world. As you can see they didn't even want to get up here. They have a lot more things to do here than to run around the country and tell the story of their tragedy. That's not the easiest thing to do. So I would try to at times do that for them, to relieve them of some of the struggle. They should be able to have some kind of resources to start building their future rather than social services to put a band-aid on a very big wound. I think it really is up to people like you to make that difference because I think as aboriginal people we have done just about everything within our means to get these people some help, to get them recognition world-wide, and it's gotten nowhere. It's up to Canadians and it's up to the Canadian Government and it's up to your Commission to see how quickly they can get a fair settlement, not a settlement that will leave them on welfare and leave them absolutely no economy, but a settlement that is fair. I really urge you to do that.
Jacques Johnson: Thank you, Dawn Hill, for your statement. It also was very challenging and moving, and rest assured that the Commission will take heed of your suggestions and try the best that we can to get a fair and just settlement. I wonder if there are any members of the Commission that would like to raise a question or two with Dawn?
Bernard Ominayak: I'd like to thank Dawn for her presentation. As she pointed, she's been here for a number of years now and she's a whole lot closer to a lot of the women than I am. I understand and appreciate the concerns that the women have. Those are everyday struggles for myself and I'm very glad that today is one of the first times that the ladies have come out and said what they felt to other people than myself, which I think is important to me, because I can use the help. It's been quite a few years, a lot longer than I had planned on, being their leader. Any help in this way I certainly welcome. With that I would like to call on Crystal to present her statement. We're getting down to the younger generation now and I hope -- that's what this fight is about, for the younger people -- and I hope the Commission will be able to understand.
Crystal Gladue: Overall, we hope that the land claim will be settled before we graduate from high school. My brother Timothy is in Grade 10 and I'm in Grade 9, so that our future will seem brighter soon. So that there will be something to keep us here. Even if we decide to go to university, we want there to be something to come back to, some place with jobs and a sense of community. These are things we don't have or are losing now.
In the last few years, since we were young, we have seen more troubles here. More alcohol, and with it fights and accidents. People don't get along any more as well as they used to. People from outside come to sell booze and it breaks up families and causes violence.
This is our land, and none of this should have been going on in the first place. The government offers just aren't good enough. Not enough to build a good reserve that we can call home. We would like to settle down and stay in this community, but what will remain.
When we do something, like the blockade or the incident at the logging camp, we shouldn't be blamed. These are the right things to do for our future. When we see our dad and others going to court and maybe to jail, it doesn't really bother us, since we know it's all a waste of time by the government. What bothers us mostly about it all is we don't get to see them as much with all the meetings and trials.
Jacques Johnson: Thank you Crystal for your statement, which brings us a message on behalf of the youth of the Lubicon people. We agree, you have hope to be able to go in your studies in universities and career...you also hope to have a beautiful home here in a community that is stable after the settlement has taken place. We feel a lot of distress over all the strain that comes about in your own homes because of the lack of settlement and the social impact that takes place with the people having to spend a lot of times in meetings and even in court. I'd like to thank you very much, Crystal, and ask if there are members of the Commission that would like to raise some issues with Crystal? Menno?
Menno Wiebe: Thanks, Crystal, for being courageous. You're a brave woman, that's what you are, at age 14 to come forward and make this statement for yourself and on behalf of your brother. This is really quite something. It's clear from what you said that the wisdom hasn't all been in school. I'm sure you know. You're a smart Grade 9 student. The wisdom comes from your Elders and your parents, from the community, and I think we appreciate that very deeply. Thank you very much for being brave enough to walk up here.
Jacques Johnson: We'll move on. I'd like to ask if there's any other questions from the Commission members to the women or to the young people?
Bernard Ominayak: What I'd like to suggest at this point is maybe we have a 15 minute break and then come back. We've got a number of other matters. It shouldn't take too long after the break from our side. After that we'll try to answer whatever you may wish to ask or whatever.
Jacques Johnson: We'll take a 15 minute break.
Bernard Ominayak: (in Cree)
Edward Laboucan: (in Cree)
Bernard Ominayak: That was Edward Laboucan. He's on the Elders' Council and has been for quite some time and he's been one of the people that has been involved for many, many years, to way back when the initial promise was made in 1939. There's always a big question in his mind as to why is it that we're faced with hardships by governments and everybody, meaning the oil companies and that -- why isn't it that we're not able to get a fair and just settlement for our people. Also he's basically giving a word of encouragement to our members that we continue and that we get a fair and just settlement at some point. He hopes to see that day, even though he's made a lot of effort in trying to bring a fair and just settlement to his people. That commitment is there on his part and his only hope is that he would see the day that it is going to be possible for us to have a fair and equitable settlement.
Jacques Johnson: Thank you very much.
Bernard Ominayak: The people from Europe are here, so maybe we'll open at this time, allocate some time to them if you can maybe get them to deal with the resolution that was passed by the many different support groups in Europe -- for them to present that to you people this afternoon.
Jacques Johnson: Before I call on Heinz, I'd like to, on behalf of the Commission, thank Elder Edward Laboucan for his words of challenge and hope that a just settlement may come about finally. We would like to reassure him that we will do all that we can so that the dream of the Lubicon people may be a reality...short term. We're gratified that with people such as yourself and other Elders here to sustain people in the hard times that they are going through, by their wisdom and holiness of life to be a source of...keep hoping, brings protection to the people.
There are groups in Europe and in many parts of the world that have been supporting the Lubicon claim. It's a real pleasure for us to welcome today Mr. Heinz Lippuner, who will come and share something that a support group in Europe has come up with recently. We will ask him to identify himself and also identify the group that he represents.
Heinz Lippuner: My name is Heinz Lippuner. I'm living in Switzerland. I represent one of the biggest support groups or organizations for Native people in the Americas. I have with me a resolution on the Lubicon Lake Indian Nation. We think it's kind of important that this resolution is brought to the Lubicon community orally, personally and publicly. Some of you may know the resolution, at least Chief Bernard Ominayak, but I think you should have some quotations out of this resolution.
Representatives of supporting groups from 13 European countries including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom do hereby resolve
1.) to continue pressing in every imaginable way the governments of Canada and Alberta to negotiate with the Lubicon people a fair and just settlement of Lubicon land rights;
2.) to continue pressing European Governments and national and international political organizations to keep raising the issue of outstanding Lubicon land rights with Canadian politicians and representatives of the Canadian Government, such European political organizations to include the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), European political parties, aboriginal rights organizations, human rights organizations and environmental organizations;
3.) to accelerate the international STOP DAISHOWA campaign until there is a settlement of Lubicon land rights and an agreement negotiated between the Lubicons and Daishowa respecting Lubicon wildlife and environmental concerns;
4.) to establish a Lubicon Monitoring Committee of concerned European organizations to enable a speedy and effective response to any changes in the evolving Lubicon situation, including the possibility of another effort by Daishowa this fall to clear-cut Lubicon trees.
Dated the 25th of July, 1992, in Genoa, the town that Christopher Columbus originated from.
I would like to add two sentences to the Lubicon people. You are not alone. There are European people who are with you in your struggle for a fair and just settlement of your concerns. I would like to present to the Commission a copy of the resolution. Thank you.
Jacques Johnson: On behalf of the Commission, I would like to thank Mr. Heinz Lippuner for tabling this very important document with expressions of support of many European countries and organizations. It is with this kind of support that I think the Lubicon people will be able to continue to forge ahead, and also to be constant in their struggle for justice. Thank you. And I hope that you will bring to your organizations, Heinz, the appreciation of the Commission. I'm sure also of the Lubicon people.
At this moment, I would like to invite members of the Commission, perhaps, to raise questions that they may have with the Lubicon people and in particular with the Chief and Council. We don't know if at this stage you would like to react publicly to the latest federal government offer, but if you have anything that would like to state at this time, Bernard, we would be most happy to hear you out.
Bernard Ominayak: Again I'd like to take the opportunity to thank the Commission for being here today and sharing the problems that our people are faced with and the hardships that we've gone through. I believe that our hardships are unnecessary when we have many resources through our traditional territory. It's most unfortunate that we're forced into this situation. But at the same time we must keep looking ahead and hoping that there is going to be something positive at some stage in the very near future for our people. With that I would first of all like to hand over to Father Johnson a statement that came in from another Indian First Nation which they've asked me to table before the Commission to let them know that they are concerned with what is happening.
Jacques Johnson: I think I would like to read it. Okay?
Given to the Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review by Chief Ernest Sundown, Joseph Bighead First Nation, August 06, 1992.
"First of all I would like to thank the Commission for agreeing to hear our presentation in support of the Lubicon Lake First Nation. The citizens of the Joseph Bighead Band have watched very closely the events surrounding the situation the Lubicon people face. We have visited the Lubicon homeland to inform ourselves first-hand of how people are withstanding the pressure faced by them by the governments of Canada and Alberta. We have just recently forwarded a letter to Prime Minister Mulroney stating our concerns on the existing situation. I want to repeat some of our concerns here.
"We have reviewed the terms of reference of this Commission and the questions the Commissions answered by the governments of Canada and Alberta. What is clear from the questions and by reading between the lines is the power of Canada and Alberta to continually abrogate their responsibilities to the Lubicon people. The political and economic power of the state has been used to unilaterally impose its will on the Lubicon Lake people. The situation as we see it is a clear indication of the nature of the problem between the Crown and the indigenous people of this land.
"The indigenous people of this land understand very well the Canadian system of government. We have had 126 years of formalized oppression to learn what it is all about. What the governments of Canada and the provinces have never bothered to learn is our system of government, and the social, spiritual, cultural, political and economic bases for our success of governing. The Euro-Canadian cultures of Canada have always assumed that the European way of governing was the right way and their systems were to be forced on us. The Indian Act of Canada is one of the most oppressive pieces of social legislation to be created in the Western world. The sole purpose of this Act is to determine where we live, who is an Indian and how we are to behave. The citizens of the Lubicon Lake Indian Nation and their government have rights in this land that pre-date those of Euro-Canadians and the Canadian governments refuse to recognize and honor those rights.
"As I mentioned earlier, this issue is a clear reflection of the nature of the problem in Canada. Our people, the Joseph Bighead Cree, have had recent first-hand experience with the problem. Our recent appearance before the House Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs has not resolved the issue we presented. We fully understand the nature of the relationship between the Crown and our peoples, and it is one of enormous power on one side, and on the other side, dependency, a struggle for justice and parity in our own land.
"It is my understanding that both the Canadian and Alberta governments have refused to appear before this Commission, using the excuse that everything that needs to be said has already been said. That is nothing but a stonewalling tactic to avoid publicly having to answer for their actions. The First Nations of this land have had a lot of experience with these kinds of tactics.
"I would like to use this opportunity before this Commission to remind the Crown of some of the words in the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and the Treaties. Those words have to do with the Crown ensuring that the honor of the Crown was upheld at all times. Where is that honor today? The Lubicon people have attempted now for over 5 decades to enter into an honorable relationship with the Crown, and of being rejected by a State which claims that honor is the prime objective in dealing with indigenous people -- or is honor somehow defined differently by the Crown than we understand it. All of the evidence in the case of the Lubicon people points to a definition that means the unilateral control of all the land, resources, culture, beliefs and practices of the Lubicon by the Nation State of Canada. This is not honor as we understand it. This is cultural genocide exercised through the political power of the State, imposed on a daily basis through the vehicle of the Canadian Indian Act which sanctions the actions of government against the Lubicon Lake Nation. This is not an honorable action. What the Lubicon Lake Nation people want is a fair and honorable relationship with the Crown, just as all indigenous people want the same thing. But it must be a relationship that is based on trust and fair dealing.
"To date the Lubicon people have not been dealt with fairly. Their history has been well documented and clearly shows the despicable way that agents of the Crown have attempted to dispossess the Lubicon of their identity, land and resources. It may have been legal from the point of view of the Crown, but is it honorable, is it fair, is it just? I think not.
"The Joseph Bighead Cree fully supports the efforts of the Lubicon Lake Nation to achieve their goals within the territory of Canada. We're asking you as a Commission of Review to use whatever powers of persuasion you have to confront the Canadian and Alberta governments with your finding. The people of Lubicon Lake have lived with injustice long enough. It is now time for justice, honor and the right to be a self-determining, a self-sufficient First Nation within Canada.
Thank you very much, Chief Bernard. We also would like to thank Chief Ernest Sundown of the Joseph Bighead First Nation for presenting this very powerful statement that we will certainly keep in mind as we continue with the Commission of Review.
Bernard Ominayak: We appreciate that other Canadian people are encouraging the Commission to continue with the work that they set out to do. We understand that it's not very easy for the Commission to do the kind of work that needs to be done, especially when there's a lot of criticism and fingers being pointed. There's been some that stated that this was an NDP Commission and so on. But it's my understanding that most of the political parties in this Province are being represented and a whole lot of other people. So we certainly appreciate that the people involved in the Commission are prepared to look at all sides of the problem that exists today and hopefully at some point you will be able to put things together in a way that will enable us to continue with a future for the Lubicon people. That's been our objective, and I would hope that is achieved at some point.
I know that we've been fortunate enough to work with a lot of different people in the past and we hope to build on that again. To the earlier question that Father Johnson asked, the last response that we got from the federal government which Mr. Siddon described as a fair and generous response exceeding to a large degree, as he put it, the settlements that have transpired in the past in dealing with the Indian Nations across this country. I think most of you will -- once you look at the response -- will realize that is not the case. We've got a number of basic problems with it. What I've done thus far is we've responded by way of letter to the Minister stating a number of concerns. For example, again they are talking about membership, which was resolved some time ago and shouldn't be an issue, but now they're back to square one where they're stating that they are the people who are going to determine who we are and who is Lubicon and who is not and all this rhetoric that he's put forward in his response. So I don't think we're at a stage where the federal government is serious and is wanting to arrive at a settlement with us at this point in time, but rather is still trying to discredit us. I think if you people read the response you'll be able to assess that on your own. Nevertheless again, it's something that we cannot afford to deal with in any serious manner at this point. We hope that things turn around to our benefit, but it's not there at this point. It's clear from the response that they've given us. I guess that's a broad overview as to the response that we're making. There's not too much more I can say about it at this point.
Jacques Johnson: Would any of the Commission like to ask questions about this issue or about others? Menno?
Menno Wiebe: The original mandate of this Commission of ours is to examine the federal offer made to the Lubicon Nation, along with the counter-proposal drafted by your Band and presented to the federal government. What we now have before us is an alternate offer. So I'm assuming that for our Commission that we do examine this new offer, unless I'm misunderstanding the focus of our mandate -- that we take this new offer. I also don't know if the old offer...(change tapes)...
Bernard Ominayak: ...of the kind of settlement that we were looking for, and hopefully that we would arrive at a satisfactory settlement, then the definition wouldn't stand in our way. Those are the things that we kept talking about very early on. But they keep coming back and try to confine us and saying that we are part of Treaty 8 and so forth, which we aren't. We've even challenged them to produce documentation or whatever that they may hope to stand on by way of their position. They haven't been able to do that. In so far as your earlier comment, I don't really don't know. I don't think they've come up with a proposal that is anywhere near serious that we could take into consideration by way of settlement on our part. The other thing that I guess I would like to point out is I think a lot of you have heard a lot about Indian self-government by the federal government where they say we want Indian self-government and the Indians want Indian self-government and so on. But at the same time they're still trying to manipulate membership and utilizing the Indian Act and all this stuff and that just throws everything out the window. They're talking to the aboriginal people about the constitution and how they may participate and how Indians may be in the constitution. So we've got two different levels of discussions going on. While they're forcing people down on one hand, they're trying to create this impression that they are serious and want to deal with the aboriginal people of this country in a fair manner, which is total rhetoric on their part. I think a lot of the Canadian public should understand what is happening by way of what this particular government is doing.
Now the question arises as to whether we're going to be able to succeed with this government or is there going to be another government. All of these questions come into play when we're dealing with all this stuff. We hope that at some point we're able to sit across the table like today where we have white people on one side and Native people on the other and we look at each other squarely in the eye and we look at each one as equals. But we haven't arrived at that with the general population of this country at this point. And that's one of the bigger drawbacks that aboriginal people have. While we're prepared to sit here be patient with everybody else and open doors for them to our territories, they decide they want everything and we're in the way. What I'm speaking of is racism. There is a lot of it out there and it's something that we try to deal with and it has been one of the hindrances for all aboriginal people across this country. I think a clear example was the time of the Oka situation when the racists really came out -- it's always there. It's something that I've run across travelling this country...I'm sure a lot of the problems that exist between the non-Native societies and the Native societies would be solved if we could solve the problem of racism-- it's something that we have to work together on. I guess that's a ways from the questions that arose, but it's something that I think we all have to deal with.
Jacques Johnson: Thank you, Bernard.
?: Bernard, I have a question. I'd just like to ask you a question. In terms of trying to settle, would you be in agreement if the possibility arose to segment portions, so we could settle on some and then move on to the next issue and try to settle on that? Or does it have to stay as a whole package?
Bernard Ominayak: I guess that's the kinds of questions that we have asked ourselves in the past, even as late as last night, as to what is possible. If I understand correctly, you're asking me if a partial settlement on certain items would be possible. These are things that we would have to balance if and when that opportunity arose, because on one hand if we settle for a partial settlement, how much leverage do we lose when you're looking at the overall settlement, especially when you're dealing with people that are not honest or honorable people. So these are questions that we have to ask ourselves -- what is possible within the system at this point in time? But again, we would certainly like to at least have a process in place to deal with other outstanding issues if and when that opportunity arose that we were able to look at a certain sector of an overall settlement, because there are issues that have to be dealt with. I guess to answer your question, if and when that arises then we have to seriously look at what is going to be possible, or if it is going to be possible.
Jennifer Klimek: Chief Ominayak, we've got this offer. Has there ever been any detailed response to your proposal, or has it just come out in this form...this is too high or we disagree with this for this reason. Has that ever happened...
Bernard Ominayak: I gave our counter-proposal to Mr. Siddon back in November. This is supposedly his response to our counter-proposal which I think you people have access to. At that point, what he said to me was that he wanted my reaction to that particular response because he was hoping that his government or his department would be appearing before you people, or at least presenting his response to you people. Now whether that has happened or not I don't know. But what I basically told him was it was his prerogative, that I didn't have any recommendations one way or the other about the government appearing before the Commission. We've never had any commitments by way of what we can do and what we cannot do. But it was totally within his power to present it to you or whatever he chose to do. Also I encouraged him that his government should be here answering the kinds of questions the Commission has for the federal government. So with that understanding this is supposedly his response.
Fred Lennarson: Maybe I can just make a comment on that too. The Lubicon people have been asking for years for a detailed reaction to their proposals. Finally on June 5th, Siddon came up here in response to creation of the Commission and the questions that you put forward. That's when he asked for an emergency meeting at Little Buffalo Lake. In that meeting he agreed again to provide a detailed reaction to the Lubicon Settlement Proposals. If you look at this thing, this is not a reaction. They're not reacting to Lubicon proposals. All they've done is put Lubicon positions on issues on one side of the page and the government's position on the issues on the other side of the page. And the government's position is basically the "take-it-or-leave-it" offer. They've just put it on two halves of the page and they call that a reaction. And that's as close as we've ever come.
Michael Asch: Just for a little bit of clarification. I really appreciated your earlier remarks, but in addition to the question of the difference between your position and the federal -- I don't know what to call it -- response, federal statement...in addition to issues regarding compensation and certainly the issue of membership, are there any other areas of concern that we should be alert to and considering with regard to your understanding of their proposals?
Bernard Ominayak: I think first of all, as I pointed out earlier when we appeared before you people in Edmonton, a lot of the programs and program dollars they describe as very generous should be available to us now. They should have been available to us long before today, and that has not happened. But in the overall sense, if you look at the so-called response, there's a lot of shortfalls in many areas. Basically they are suggesting in a lot of the different areas that we go to the program people and apply like anybody else. So it's not any kind of special agreement that they're putting before us. I think what we tried to do from our perspective was try and put a package together that would enable us to build a community and hopefully start dealing with the problems that exist within our community. In order to do that we tried to put our heads together to try and come up with many different areas that we needed to deal with. We certainly weren't given the same kind of consideration. I think there's a lot of shortfalls in many of the different areas. When we speak of membership and these kinds of issues...we cannot afford to negotiate or re-negotiate anything of that nature. We've got a position and it's a position that we've fought long and hard for and we're not apt to turn around and start all over again. So that begs the question -- are these guys serious or are they not serious? When we look at it from that perspective, they clearly aren't serious. It's more, as I pointed out, a method on their part for PR work, and that's what it is. For example, when we went to that meeting, Mr. Siddon called me late at night and proposed to get together here in Edmonton. He said, "I don't want to concern myself with the media. I don't have any interest." I said, "Well, I certainly won't got out of my way to invite anybody." I said, "I'm not going to do that." So I get to the Edmonton Inn where he proposed the meeting and there were cameramen and media there and he invited them in. He wanted them to take a picture of him handing me the response. I said, "Fine. I'm not going to run away from them." So what I'm looking at is I certainly know that these guys are playing games rather than trying to make a serious effort to try and bring out an agreement. But we're caught in a situation where we're damned if we don't and damned if we do, where we've got to try and leave that door open so we can meet and can we convince them. But so far I don't really think Siddon's got any authority to try and make any kind of independent agreement other than what he's confined to prior to getting in this document. He certainly didn't know what was in it.
Michael Asch: This may be for you or for Fred, I'm not sure, or anyone else. I'm just going to turn to one page because I cannot quite understand something. While I'd like to have the federal government here to answer I don't have the federal government here, so maybe they explained this to you, but I don't know. I'm just going to read you one. I chose it because it's an important one, but I could have chosen a lot. This is under the Lubicon self-government. And in the left-hand column it says, "New Lubicon Proposal". And then it has a clause, and this is nothing private but it is rather similar to something I've seen that you guys put forward. Unfortunately, I'm not sure it's the same thing. It says:
"New Lubicon Proposal:
"Provincial laws of general application will apply except to the extent that these laws are inconsistent with the provisions of the Lubicon self-government legislation contemplated herein, any other act of the Parliament of Canada or law of the Band."
That's what it says. Now I don't know whether that is their proposal to you or your proposal to them. Let me go on to the next column. It says:
"Worded somewhat differently."
Who? Worded somewhat differently from your proposal? Worded somewhat differently, I mean, it needs to be worded somewhat differently? I'm not exactly sure. And then the last one, it says:
Whose clarification? Your clarification? Their clarification? Is that something you can help me with?
Bernard Ominayak: Maybe what I'll do is I'll appoint Fred as a federal representative and maybe he can answer...
Fred Lennarson: It's not the first time he's done something like that. I want to tell you a story before I try and answer your question. When all this started and people started hearing about it we'd get invitation from, quite often, church groups. And we'd go and usually end up in the basement of a church talking to a half a dozen interested people. And after a while we were comfortable with that. Bernard and I would usually go and sometimes some other people would go. One morning Bernard had an invitation to appear at a church in Edmonton and we went and we walked in the door and the place was packed and we were ushered up to the pulpit and they had a church program that said, Chief Bernard Ominayak was going to be delivering the sermon that day. We were sitting in front of this big church full of people with a printed program and Bernard was supposed to be delivering the sermon. So I sat there and watched him, wondering what he was going to do. So he got up to speak and I was sitting there with a little smile on my face and he thanked people for inviting him and expressing concern and then he introduced me to give the sermon. But never before has he asked me to be the federal government.
Michael Asch: How was your sermon?
Fred Lennarson: I went real fast. Now with regard to your question I think what they're saying is that the Lubicon proposal is what they're calling the "New Lubicon Proposal". But I'm going to have to go back and check the exact wording of the Lubicon proposal because frankly that wording sounds a little funny to me as well.
Michael Asch: It doesn't sound the same to me.
Fred Lennarson: I know...Every single clause has to be checked when you get documents from the government of Canada because they say all kinds of things that just simply aren't true. That's one of the problems with this document and it's one of the problems with trying to negotiate with federal representatives. They make all kinds of claims in here about numbers that are not true. The Minister says in his cover letter that their offer is worth over $73 million. It's not, even if you accept all his numbers, and his numbers include such things as $10.5 million contribution from the Province which they calculate is the market value of Lubicon reserve land. So that adds $10.5 million to the offer. They have in there $1 million for a road. It's a provincial government road. The Grimshaw Agreement provides that the Province will own the shores and beds of Lubicon Lake and the Lubicons will give them access to the shores and bed of Lubicon Lake. That's the road. It's a provincial government access road. They add it to the Lubicon offer.
One comment that I'd like to make on this whole question of money. The Lubicons come at this whole question on a much different level than the government. The Lubicons are concerned with things like vocational training and how to do it. Now that has costs, but the Lubicon focus is on vocational training and housing and recreation for the kids and commercial development and so on. What the government does with that is put the focus on the money and then tries to negotiate the money end. So we're talking about different things here. The Lubicons are not looking at the money. There are financial implications to what they're proposing to do, but what they're proposing to do is put together a community which works once again and can support itself.
There are also all kinds of little things that they keep throwing in here. They have for example something which they say must be done. They say there has to be a clause whereby the Lubicons indemnify the government of Canada should somebody who might have been part of a settlement but wasn't sue the government of Canada. As far as we're concerned that's a complete abdication of the government's constitutional responsibility for dealing with aboriginal people and aboriginal lands. The government has a responsibility for dealing with aboriginal people. The Lubicon people can only be responsible for the people they represent. If there's somebody out there the Lubicons don't know about or who refuses to participate in the settlement agreement, that person may have a cause of action against the government of Canada, constitutionally and legally -- that's between that person and the government of Canada. The Lubicon people can't be responsible for people they don't represent.
The membership clause is another question. We had it settled in December of 1988; now we're back on that. We fought over something called the counted-once rule. They proposed to deduct all kinds of people whom they said had been counted some place else for purposes of land. Now they're trying to apply the same counted-once rule with regard to this socio-economic formula. And again it is very clear even on the face of the document that what they're trying to do is deceive -- not the Lubicons, because they know the Lubicons are going to understand this -- but Canadians generally.
Michael Asch: First of all I want to say that the last part was a very interesting federal government statement. I would like the meeting to go on, but I wonder if someone has the package. I have the Lubicon proposal except I don't have it right here. I'd like to really check because I really want to nail this down. Is this your language that they're saying is worded somewhat differently or have they changed the language? I think that's important. So if we could check it.
Jacques Johnson: I have a question to ask Bernard. In terms of where you are with the federal government in negotiations, could you sum up for us please what it is that you feel you both agree on? How about land? Is it pretty well okay? The land area, the land issue? And if it is, besides the land issue, is there any other bits and pieces that you feel that you can agree on at this stage?
Bernard Ominayak: That's kind of a tough question to answer, Father, because, for example, Michael just asked a question about something we thought was settled. But they keep coming back at them, so it's really hard to say that we agree on this and we agree on that when these guys keep coming up trying to re-start the whole process. We're trying to build as we go, but then we have to go back and start from square one. In so far as the Grimshaw Agreement the Premier of Alberta, Mr. Getty, has stated time after time that Grimshaw stands. So they have not tried to take that apart other than the initiative they took with the Woodland Cree where they were at the outset claiming that if a certain number of the Lubicon membership went over to the Woodland Cree then a reduction would be made to the land that was set aside for a supposed Lubicon reserve. With all the fooling around with the membership and stuff, it's now not clear as to what their position is. At the same time, if there was an effort on the part of the federal government to try and take that apart, then that would be something again that we'd have to closely look at and reconsider as to what is it that we can do from our side. So I don't feel it's appropriate for me at this point to state that this is exactly what we're going to do, if everything is out the window, if movement is there on their part...
Fred Lennarson: The Lubicon position is also kind of an organic whole and it's hard to talk about agreeing on part of it and not agreeing on another part of it, because the parts are all interrelated. For example, if the government insists on this position on membership the whole thing comes apart. The rest of it doesn't make any sense if they are the ones that are going to determine what Lubicon people are entitled to adhere to treaty. Nothing makes any sense if they stick to that position.
Jacques Johnson: It looks like a long road ahead.
?: Just before the last election, Bernard, Prime Minister Mulroney made all kinds of promises and hand shakes and commitments and now we're on the eve of a new election where does it go? We could have a new government and a new Prime Minister.
The way things are looking we could have more of the same. What are the other parties saying? Are they making any kind of commitment? The Liberal Party, which could be the new government?
Bernard Ominayak: I can't say what may happen by way of governments. I guess to look at it from our perspective, we don't see how it is going to be possible to get a worse government than what we've got in power today. I think there's a whole lot of people who agree with that. So we're hoping that people would wake up and see what these people stand for or don't stand for. A new government will hopefully be of benefit for all the people in Canada, not only the Lubicon people. Because it can't get any worse than this.
Again, I'll make reference to the Oka situation. That's something that we probably expected a hundred or a couple of hundred years ago to happen and yet in this day and age we see the kind of racism that is out there and a government that created that incident. That's a serious situation because I understand and appreciate the kind of pressures that the Mohawk people were under at that time. They didn't have any option but to try and stand up to these guys. That's the same position that our people were forced under a few years ago. What do you do? Do you just lie down and let these guys walk over you or do you try and stand up?...Or even in this situation. I mean, if we had white people here I don't think we would have this problem. But the fact is we've got to face reality and do the best we can.
I would hope with a greater understanding and a greater appreciation by people like you we could make progress. As Don pointed out, he's ashamed to be Canadian. There you've got a person who's starting to understand what is being done by his own race to other peoples, and I think once a lot more people get to that level then we stand a better chance of dealing with people like the Lubicon people who are put in these kinds of circumstances with no choice of theirs...We never did say once...that we oppose any kind of progress. But if there's going to be progress, whatever kind of progress, then it's got to be progress in a way that is going to at least take into consideration all peoples that are going to be directly affected. With that kind of an understanding, I'm sure a lot of these kinds of developments that do take place would go a lot smoother.
With Daishowa, the government claims that they are dealing with the economic situation within the Province, but I don't see how that is possible. They've let the Japanese people cut all our trees and with all the damage that is done through that process, then the Lubicon people have no place else to go and have to suffer the consequences of the kinds of stupidity that this particular government does. It's not only the Lubicon people. It's other people. It's both Native and non- Native people that don't have any other place to go and that have suffered the consequences of these kinds of developments.
Jacques Johnson: Michael Asch?
Michael Asch: Just a real quick comment. I went out and got a copy of the June 1990 Lubicon proposal and I did not find anything that was actually or even generally the same wording that I read before. It is not Lubicon wording as far as I've seen it. I therefore interpret that left hand side of the column is the federal government's re-write of the Lubicon proposal. The center column tells you that they have worded it somewhat differently. And the right hand side tells you whether this new wording is acceptable to them or whether it needs further clarification. Now that's my interpretation. Fred has a different interpretation. This is one reason why it would be very helpful to have the federal government come here and explain to the Commission what this is about.
Fred Lennarson: I don't disagree with you. I looked at it and made certain assumptions but as I said anything received from the government of Canada has to be closely examined.
Michael Asch: Maybe Mr. Siddon should answer to that.
Fred Lennarson: Well, maybe Mr. Siddon could answer it or maybe somebody in the federal government.
Bernard Ominayak: I think that's one of their intentions, Michael, to try and create a false impression. I wonder how many people are going to be asking the same kinds of questions that we're asking, or will they just take for granted what the government says. These are the circumstances that we have to go back all over again and try to correct the deliberate misinformation that these guys put out...
Menno Wiebe: I'd like to ask question, strictly as a individual member of the Commission in no way representative of anything we've discussed because it hasn't been. But I did want to ask this question with regard to the prolonging of the negotiations. That question has to do with the matter of in whose interest the postponement of settlement is. What we heard from the Lubicon Native women group was that the agony, social and otherwise, is very substantial and the plea for an early settlement, that's how I read that submission. It would seem wrong to me that the Lubicon members be punished for the prolonging of the settlement. Recognizing that on the other side of the table, the prolonging of settlement is really to the advantage of the development corporations, be they oil or the timber industries. So it is not in their interest -- it would seem -- and maybe John and Norm have different views on this -- doesn't seem to be in their interest to settle quickly. So it's very good to keep the discussion going while you are losing whatever amount of oil or timber on a daily basis. So this is my question to you. Have you considered, have the Lubicon people considered some kind of interim measure that would not punish you for prolonging settlement. I'm at a bit of a loss to even figure what that might be. But it would seem something other than their answer which would seem to be public funding in the form of welfare. But are there some interim measures that could be taken so you would not be victimized for their perpetuation of the negotiations? I hope my question is understood.
Bernard Ominayak: I don't know if I can respond to you, Menno. I think I understand the question. In so far as the women and their presentation, as I stated, I'm glad that they've done what they've done. But nevertheless again we have to state that's something that the government would really appreciate, because that's exactly the position that they would like to have us under. They figure if they can pound away at us long enough that we'll get on our hands and knees and start begging for whatever they may present to us. But I don't think that as long as I'm here and still have the majority backing of the membership of the Lubicon Lake Nation that I would be quite prepared to do something like that...I think I'd rather step out of the way before I'd get on my hands and knees to any government other than if and when they are prepared to meet the needs of the people that I represent. In so far as trying to deal with the interim by way of reality as to the hardships that our people face, we know that we have a lot of problems in the community and they keep coming at us from every way that they can. Both governments are involved. The provincial government's involved and also the federal government's involved, whether it be through Municipal Affairs or however they come at us through the Alberta side. And then the federal government on one hand says "You can't have this and you can't have that because you don't have a reserve" and all these things that they've been telling us all these years. What we've tried to do just recently -- and I think I've got to give a lot of credit to Mr. MacMillan here and his boys -- when some of the people were thinking of trying to move back to the original places John's boys lent us a cat. I think you guys saw the kind of half-assed road we put in there to allow that access for our people to start trying to build our homes back and relocating back in our homeland. That in one sense is a minor thing, but still it allows people to start dealing with the real issues, starting to build that base themselves. Again that's a minor thing, but it's big on one hand when you have people like John's boys who are prepared to assist us and lending us the cat...and saying, "If and when you can pay us, pay us, and if you can't we'll understand." So these are minor things, but still they give motivation to people like Edward there, as he put it. He's glad to go back where he originated from. But that's just one example, I think, if there are people who are interested in doing something, this is maybe the direction that we should be looking at rather than pounding our heads against the wall trying to get a few dollars off the government, but rather stay away from them and try and get something in place that enables our people to start building; because around here we know that we're going to be leaving at some point, so it's really hard to continuing improving your home or your garden or whatever you may have. Because there's always that's big question when these things happen.
Fred Lennarson: I think the development companies by and large are prepared to deal with whoever owns the lands and the resources. The real big problem comes with the government. Now there's a relationship between the big corporations and the government of course, but by and large the companies -- if it's Indian land, they're prepared to sit down and deal with Indians. If it's provincial jurisdiction that applies, if it's federal jurisdiction that applies, they'll deal with them. The real big question in my judgement is this jurisdictional question -- who owns the land. And that's between the governments and the Lubicon people. The provincial government says it's their land, they got it from the federal government. The federal government says they got it from negotiating a treaty with the Indians in 1899. The Lubicons say, "Were the aboriginal people of this land and we never negotiated a treaty with anybody or ever ceded our traditional lands in any legally or historically recognized way." That's at the heart of this struggle.
Jacques Johnson: Thank you. Jennifer?
Jennifer Klimek: I have one question about the Province. Now my understanding is - - correct me if I'm wrong on this -- is that you want, you're claiming some aboriginal rights over timber. Where does the provincial government stand on this. They've signed an FMA that gave the rights to log this timber to Daishowa. What is your position vis-a-vis that? If you get it, are you going to re-negotiate that or live up to the FMA? What's your position on that?
Bernard Ominayak: What we have done with the Alberta Government was negotiate a committee where our concerns would hopefully be dealt with and where we'd have an equal voice on this particular committee that would consist of members from here, provincial Fish and Wildlife and the Peace River Fish and Game Association to deal with our traditional territory. For example, if there's going to be clear-cut logging, where is it going to be? When is it going to be? What kind of time span is going to be placed before other places are clear-cut logged? Anything of that nature. Maybe the oil development. And also to try and take into account the concerns that the Lubicon people have by way of environment and wildlife. How can we prevent the worst kind of damages that takes place, or the destruction that takes place by way of clear-cutting. So these are the concerns that we had and we had hoped that this particular committee would be able to deal with those concerns that our people have, in conjunction with the Alberta Government. Now how that lies with the FMA, I don't know at this point, because the FMA covers over and above our traditional territory.
Jennifer Klimek: And that Committee's been agreed to?
Bernard Ominayak: Pardon?
Jennifer Klimek: Has the provincial government agreed to that committee structure?
Bernard Ominayak: At one point.
Fred Lennarson: I 'd like to add to that. The Lubicon position is that as of now they retain jurisdiction and ownership over their entire traditional territory. They've never sold it, traded it, lost it in war or ceded it to anybody in any legally or historically recognized way. The provincial government is illegally expropriating resources without compensation. When they grant timber or oil leases they don't have the right to do it. The resources belong to the Lubicon people.
The Lubicon position with regard to reserve land is no less reserve land than was retained by the aboriginal people who signed Treaty 8. That's reserve land. On the reserve the resources would still be theirs. If somebody wanted to harvest trees on reserve they'd have to deal with the Lubicon people.
With regard to the bigger traditional area the Lubicon people are prepared to talk about ceding certain rights, like the rights to sub-surface resources, but they intend to retain wildlife management and environmental protection rights.
There were talks with the Province following Grimshaw and a proposal for shared jurisdiction in the bigger traditional area was seriously considered. It would work like this.
The Province is divided into what are called Wildlife Management Units or WMUs. You can have different rules and regulations in these different WMUs. In some you can hunt cow moose, in other areas you cannot -- that sort of thing.
The idea discussed with the Province was to set up a special Lubicon WMU. It would be established under provincial law but couldn't be changed by either party unilaterally. It would be governed by a committee consisting of -- and I'll have to double-check the numbers -- but it's something like 3 Lubicons, one from the Cadotte Lake community, one from the Loon Lake community, one from Provincial Fish and Wildlife and one from the Peace River Fish and Game Association. This committee would determine how much big game could be taken, how much big game was necessary for Native subsistence, and consequently how many tags could be sold to outsiders. If, for example, you could take 500 moose and 300 were needed Native subsistence, 200 moose tags could be sold to outsiders.
With regard to trapping this committee would handle that too. It would manage the entire trapline system in the Lubicon WMU, provided only that no Native trapline would be sold to an outsider.
One of the big problems with the current trapline system is that it's used by the provincial government to tear aboriginal societies apart. Originally when Treaty 8 was signed the agreement with the aboriginal people was that they'd be able to hunt, trap and fish as before. The aboriginal signatories to Treaty 8 refused to sign Treaty 8 until government representatives agreed to this provision. That was consequently the verbal agreement, but it's not what the treaty says. The written version of the Treaty says the aboriginal signatories to the Treaty can hunt and trap on unpatented Crown land not needed for non-aboriginal settlements, forestry mining or anything else non-aboriginal people wanted to do with the land.
In the 1930s non-aboriginal people started moving into aboriginal trapping areas in Treaty 8 and the Indians -- some of whom had actually been literal signatories to Treaty 8 -- objected, pointing out correctly that they'd been promised that they'd be able to hunt, trap and fish as before. Obviously they couldn't hunt and trap as before with outsiders moving in and taking over their traplines.
Consequently there was a lot of correspondence back and forth between the federal and provincial governments during the 1930s about the possibility of setting aside the entire northern part of the Province as an exclusive Indian hunting, trapping and fishing area. Ultimately the province ended this discussion by setting up a provincial trapline registration system which was supposedly to protect Indian traplines. However before long this provincial trapline registration system was being used by provincial officials to reward friends and punish enemies.
In the early 1980s the provincial trapline registration system was used by the provincial government in the Lubicon area as part of the government's continuing efforts to divide and conquer the Lubicon people. They'd threaten to take a family trapline away from one person, for example, supposedly because he wasn't working it hard enough, and then propose to give it to somebody else in the community. You can imagine the kind of tensions that kind of arrangement would cause. If people refused to go along with such divide and conquer tactics, the government threatened to give the involved trapline to an outsider.
So this Lubicon WMU committee would be solely responsible for managing area traplines, provided only that area traplines could not be sold to outsiders.
With regard to environmental concerns the committee would be responsible for designating environmentally sensitive areas where no development would be allowed. There's a computerized system in Alberta which effectively excludes such designated areas from those areas available for development. Cemeteries or special cultural areas would be one example. Special wildlife breeding areas would be another. The committee would be responsible for designating all such sites in the Lubicon WMU.
Lastly the committee would be responsible for advising provincial regulatory agencies with regard to rules and regulations governing logging, gas and oil development, etc. In these areas the committee would not actually be making the rules and regulations but, taken together with the power it would have in other areas, it would hopefully be able to effectively make its concerns heard by those with that power.
Jennifer Klimek: Has the Province agreed to that system?
Fred Lennarson: The Province agreed to that system, but it's part of an overall settlement agreement which has never been negotiated, plus it has now been vastly complicated by creation of the Woodland Cree and this new Loon River Band, because back when it was negotiated all of these communities were consulted and agreed to this approach. Now God knows what the situation is. I don't and I don't think anybody else does. This was back in the days when these communities all lived in this territory and tried to figure out ways how to get along. It was before the government came in and offered to give people $1,000 per family member if they signed on the dotted line and then took it out of their welfare. It's created a hell of a mess.
Bernard Ominayak: The understanding I had was that there was a broad representation on this particular committee. Given what has been said by myself and also by Lennarson in regards to the proposed committee, I'd like to hear what Norm Boucher has to say about it. From a logger's point of view would there be any great problems with what we're discussing? I'm not trying to put you on the spot but you know the business.
Norm Boucher: ...I'm not sure I see a problem. I think if look back at logging the only thing that's changing is an FMA versus a quota. Twelve years ago we bought some timber rights...and now they brought in Daishowa and an FMA and it seems like we can't do anything unless we go to Daishowa and ask them what to do with our timber. I don't think that's right. I think, referring back to what you're saying, it's very difficult for us to work under those conditions.
Fred Lennarson: What that FMA essentially does is transfer responsibility for management of something like 18,000 square miles of Alberta forest to a Japanese firm for a 20 year period. It's an incredible situation.
Jacques Johnson: Colleen?
Colleen McCrory: I guess it's disappointing a bit that the Daishowa people aren't going to be presenting, because there're a lot of questions I'd like to ask them. The big question is it a legally binding contract with the Forest Management Agreement...I think the challenge out there is going to be if your rights and trappers' rights supersede those rights...You can talk about forest management and you can talk about wildlife -- but the big question is if they continue to increase the volume of wood taken out of that Forest Management Agreement, you can talk about wildlife all you want, they'll just keep cutting down more trees. And I think it would be interesting to see what the original FMA is compared to what their new plans are, and really getting an independent audit on whether that is sustainable for the northern part of this Province. Because it will eventually eat away at not only your rights, but also the local contractors and local sawmill owners and eventually the big mills will eat out the little mills. It's been a pattern historically in British Columbia.
Fred Lennarson: We had an experience here where Bernard got a call from a logger madder than hell because under that FMA he has to sell certain kinds of trees to Daishowa. So he proposed to sell them to Daishowa and Daishowa told him it's in the Lubicon territory and they therefore won't buy them. Well, it wasn't in the Lubicon territory. The logger called Bernard and said, "What's the deal, Bernard? I'm not in your territory." And Bernard said, "That's right and we never said that was in our territory and we gave Daishowa a map which did not include that area and here's a copy of our map." Well, the guy comes up with a map that Daishowa gave him and it's about 3 times the size of the area of concern to the Lubicons. We've got I don't know how many loggers mad as hell at the Lubicons because they think that the Lubicons are claiming land on the other side of Nampa and so on and so forth. But the Lubicons didn't do it. Where that Daishowa map came from is a very interesting question. Daishowa hems and haws and says maybe they got it from the Province and the Province isn't talking. They do this kind of thing all the time, playing the loggers off against the aboriginal people in the area.
Jacques Johnson: I would like to ask a question of Bernard. We're talking about Daishowa. Unfortunately, the company decided not to appear before our Commission. I hope that we will have time none the less to verbalize some of the questions that we would like to ask had they been there. We'll probably do that tomorrow if the Commission agrees. It would be my suggestion. But I would like to ask just a simple question to the Chief. Last fall the Vice-President, Hamaoka, decided that they would not log on your traditional lands. Have you had any contact with them since, or some assurance that they will not log this fall or next year until there is a settlement?
Bernard Ominayak; No. We don't have any agreement at this point in time, or an agreement such as you suggested. We had an agreement in the past where they wouldn't log within our traditional territory until the question of our land rights has been resolved and they've tried to deny that agreement exists. Rather what Hamaoka is doing is sending letters all over the country saying that the federal government and the Lubicons are having productive discussions and that people shouldn't be worried about Daishowa coming in and so on.
Fred Lennarson: We can provide copies of those letters.
Jacques Johnson: Are there any other questions to Bernard and the Council?
Menno Wiebe: If the Vice-President of Daishowa made this commitment that they would not cut timber on traditional Lubicon lands, and if they are adhering to that, and maybe it would be good to get it in writing -- is there something comparable in the oil industry?
Bernard Ominayak: As you pointed out, it's not in their interest to settle at this point because they're collecting our resources and making billions of dollars and forcing our people into this situation that we're under. So I think the longer that they can prolong the settlement, it's to their benefit. If and when all the resources are gone, then maybe they'll say, "Fine, take whatever is there", whether it's a desert at that point or whatever. Maybe that's something the Commission could seriously look at and say, maybe we should freeze all development in this area...I'm not trying to impose anything, but as we're looking for ways and means on how best to come at this situation, that's maybe one of the ways to go. I don't know. That's of course entirely the decision of the Commission.
Jacques Johnson: That's a good suggestion and I'm sure the Commission will be looking at it.
Bernard Ominayak: What the Lubicon people are faced with now is that we're looking at the possibility of Daishowa trying to move in. Even when we had that agreement they tried to log, tried to get into our territory by buying out these other mills all around us and going under the names of those mills that they had bought out. Like Buchanan -- they were one of them that we had problems with. Buchanan didn't send their people in. They hired a sub-contractor who was Native and then they sent him in. They try to use Native-against-Native. Our position has been very clear from the start -- whoever it is, whether they are pink, white, yellow or brown -- they're still trying to steal our trees and that's what we're going to protect.
Jacques Johnson: I might add in Mr. Hamaoka's refusal to appear before the Commission he is proud to wax over the fact that they have showed great sensitivity vis-a-vis the Lubicons by deciding not to log last fall and to press upon the federal government their obligations to settle and providing us...with a letter to sort of make sure that this would show a great sensitivity on their part and be well known and appreciated. I think maybe we can invite them to continue to be sensitive.
Fred Lennarson: ...They said both last year. They said they were going in last fall because they couldn't afford to stay out. And there was an international boycott called and a great brouhaha with demonstrations all over the place and so on. Then they got more sensitive.
Bernard Ominayak: Father, it seems like you know the same Tom Hamaoka anyway.
Jacques Johnson: Sandy?
Sandy Day: The women are having to leave now because of child care so if they want to we can get together after the meeting.
Jacques Johnson: I know this was an issue that was brought to the Chair during the break, the fact that some of the members of the Commission over coffee during the break discovered all kinds of issues raised by the Lubicon women in terms of the real daily chores, the difficulties that they have to face that was not really verbalized completely in the very moving submission to this Commission. The suggestion was made to give the Lubicon women another opportunity to share some more with the Commission. Would you suggest that this be done informally as during the break, rather than formally?
Michael Asch: Maybe we should adjourn?
Jacques Johnson: We have some movement across the hall without adjourning. Does anybody propose that we adjourn or do you agree that we should?
Menno Wiebe: I agree. I do want to make one little comment if I may. I would just like to draw the attention, maybe it's obvious, but to the international nature of this gathering. We couldn't get it in Edmonton, but I see the U.S. Nation is here and the Canadian Nation is here, and the Swiss Nation is here, the Lubicon Nation is here, the Mohawk Nation is here, plus the German Nation is here, plus the 13 members represented by Heinz Lippuner. Add that all up and we have 19 Nations represented at this Commission hearing. To me that seems rather significant. But it may be -- while that is stretching the point a little bit colorfully -- but I remember from the blockade when there were 13 different national news agencies from different Nations at the blockade of October 1988, just to make the point that this is not happening in a corner. The world takes note of what is happening here. I'm just making these observations about something that has been rather consistent.
Jacques Johnson: This meeting is adjourned. Thank you very much everybody for your cooperation and your patience.
Go to: Transcript of Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review Public Hearing - Day Five