Transcript of Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review Public Hearing, August 7, 1992
Peace River, Alberta
NOTE: Inaudible sections indicated by "....."
Commission Members Present
Commission Members Absent
Drs. Heinz Lippuner & Peter Gerber, Incomindios, Switzerland
Michael Proctor, Mayor of Peace River
Ian Gardiner, President, Peace River Board of Trade
Ed. Bianchi, Steve Kenda, Elliot Shek - representatives, Friends of the Lubicon (Toronto)
Dr. Heinz Lippuner: ... The name of the organization is INCOMINDIOS, Switzerland. I have with me, a resolution on the Lubicon Lake Indian Nation, and I think it is kind of important that people over here learn what European people think and what their activities are in the problems of the Lubicon Lake Indian Nation. I quote from this resolution the following parts.
"Representatives of support groups from European countries, including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom do hereby resolve to continue fighting in every imaginable way the governments of Canada & Alberta to negotiate with the Lubicon people a fair and just settlement of Lubicon land rights, to continue pressuring European governments and national and international 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 Natiens, the European Parliament, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, European Political Parties, Aboriginal Rights Organizations, Human Rights Organizations, and Environmental Organizations; 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. Finally, we 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." Given the 25th of July, 1992 in Genoa, Italy. That's the city where Columbus originated from.
I just wanted to add one personal remark. You can be assured that European support groups and the media in Europe, they will stick to the Lubicon case, and we will do whatever we can in the ongoing campaign to stop Daishowa from clear cutting or planning to clear cut Lubicon trees. Thank you.
Jennifer Klimek: Thank you Heinz. I understand we're going to have three presentations this morning. The first from the Mayor of Peace River, the second from a member of the Board of Trade and then, one on behalf of the Friends of the Lubicon.
Mayor Michael Proctor:
First of all my name is Michael Proctor and I'm the mayor of Peace River, and I welcome the invitation to come before the Commission this morning to speak to you. I also thank the Comission for coming to the town of Peace River, to be heard and to take part the local area.
I'd like to speak briefly on behalf of the town - I want to be careful because I have not talked to my Council about what I'm going to say, but - I want first of all to read the statement that the Town of Peace Piver released at the end of December of last year, December 16, at a Council meeting, and it goes as follows.
"The Town of Peace River Council approved unanimously the release of the following statement pertaining to the negotiations between the government of Canada and the Lubicon Indian Band. The Town of Peace River Council is very concerned that Daishowa Canada is being unfairly brought into a dispute between the government of Canada and the Lubicon Indian Band. The boycott of Daishowa products by the Assembly of First Nations and the Lubicon Band is extremely unfair considering that Daishowa is not logging land claimed by the Lubicon Band, has indicated that they have no intention of doing so at the moment., and is not a party to the negotiations for settlement. Daishowa Canada Ltd. has been an excellent corporate citizen in the Peace River country in the few years that they have been present. They have also been an excellent corporate citizen in British Columbia where they have been operating for over fifteen years. The Town of Peace River is pleased that Daishowa's Peace River operations have entered into several contracts with aboriginal groups in this area and are working continually with other groups in an effort to ensure the involvement of Native and Metis people in their operations. No doubt the same opportunity has been extended to the Lubicon Band in the past, and will no doubt be extended to the Lubicon Band after their claims are settled. The settlement that should be signed with the Lubicon Band must be fair, but it must be fair to all people. It must be fair to the many other Native Bands that have signed agreements. It must be fair to those who are paying the settlement, in land and money, and it must be fair to the Lubicon Band. The Town of Peace River Council urges the parties to the negotiations to resume talks immediately and come to a fair and just settlement. In the meantime, it is manifestly unfair to involve Daishowa, or any other group who is not a party to the negotiations, in the lobbying for a settlement. In the discussions we hear about Native land claims settlements, the word fair in very often used, we must remember that fair has to apply to both sides."
And that was issued by the town in December, as a press release on December 16. I would also like to suggest that I, along with other Peace River business people and concerned citizens have met with Chief Ominayak and members of his Council over the last couple of years in an effort to offer our support and what we could do in other areas in helping them reach a satisfactory settlement. We've met in Peace River, we've met in Little Buffalo and the last meeting I had was with Chief Ominayak and Mr. Whitehead with the Peace River Town Council to again offer our assistance and support. We certainly do want to see a settlement.
I am extremely disappointed from the comments that I hear from your Commission this morning, about Daishowa not being in attendance today. I hear Father Jacques say on the radio that Daishowa was invited but had chosen not to be here but, that questions will be tabled on the floor today for Daishowa to answer. Well again I would say why is Daishowa being brought into it? Is it because it is politically expedient, it gains publicity? I would suggest that is the reason. Daishowa is not going to sign an agreement with the Lubicon. That's an agreement with the federal government and the Lubicon Band, and if there are concerns with forestry activity, that.'s a concern with the provincial government, I would suggest. I was also extremely concerned this morning to read the Edmonton Journal, the comments, and if they are true, they bother me tremendously. I read comments like, there was little change in the proposals put forward by Mr. Siddon recently and that there were minor cosmetic changes only. Well, to my knowledge, the last offer was 45 million dollars and now we're talking 73 million dollar.s. Now I hardly consider a 62% increase in the dollar amount that's being offered to the Lubicon to be a minor cosmetic change. I hope that the folks in the Journal were not right, because I think that we're hardly going to get anywhere with negotiations if that's the of attitude that's being put forward. There have been many comments during the meetings that we've had over the past several years that the Lubicon should be seeking other advisors than the ones they've had in the past to try and put this negotiation finally to bed. We want to see it put to bed. We think of the Lubicons and the Woodland Crew and the other Natives in our area as neighbors, the same as we consider people from Grimshaw and other municipalities around us and this certainly is not good for the Town, this ongoing fussing, and it's certainly not good for the Lubicons. The sooner it is resolved the better it will be for all of us. I don't know if - Ian Gardiner is with me from the Board of Trade, maybe he'd like to add something.
Ian Gardiner: My name in Ian Gardiner, President of the Peace River Board of Trade. Mike basically said everything that we would have to say. The Peace River Board of Trade has written letters to all levels of government, supporting a fair settlement with the Lubicon people. We also believe that it is unfair to involve Daishowa in any way. It is our complete understanding that Daishowm has cooperated in every way with the Lubicon people as far as the claimed lands. We also believe that if it isn't possible to negotiate between the Lubicon people and the Federal and Provincial governments then an arbitrator should be appointed to put things together. The Peace River Board of Trade also believes that the future development of this area will be seriously impaired if a settlement isn't reached soon. The economic potential of this area is almost unlimited. ... the political grandstanding and distribution of inaccurate information is unfortunate for this area.
Jennifer Klimek: I'd now like to open up the forum for questions from the Commission.
Colleen McCrory: Over the years, you say the Native communities are neighbors, are there economic benefits for these communities when the land claim's been settled.
Michael Proctor: I don't know what you mean by economic benefits. I would simply suggest that possibly one of the strongest economic benefits would be that the topic would go away and we would get away from this boycotting and things of that nature that are adversely effecting our economy as much as the economic benefits that would, that might come to our economy with the settlement.
John Macmillan: I think maybe if we could get Father Johnson to tell the mayor what we're doing. We're a neutral bunch of people that haven't made any decisions at all ... tell the mayor what our intentions are as far as the Commission goes. Give the mayor some background on our situation.
Jacques Johnson: Thank you John for inviting me to take the mic. I would like to state, maybe on behalf of the Commission as a co-chair, that we are an independent, self-supported Commission made up of I believe upstanding citizens from different parts of western Canada. People who are certainly concerned, just as you are, sirs, about achieving a settlement.
We hope to be a catalyst to bring about such a resolution. Indeed I believe that we have been so far, if I could just mention that after we had the first public hearings for the Lubicon, I believe it was the 2nd and 3rd of June, a Monday and a Tuesday, by the Thursday, Chief Ominayak received a call from Mr. Siddon telling him of his intention ... along with the Native Affairs Minister of Alberta, Mr. Dick Fowler. As you know, that very Friday they spent a couple hours, and in a sense we felt that there was movement there because we showed up and starting making public some of the issues that were kept secret and which people didn't understand too much. Then, a few weeks later we had a public hearing where both levels of government were invited but failed to show up, as you well know, and we raised a number of issues, because we had all of the information, all the different offerings the government had made to the Lubicons since 1989, we were reading the paper, which we studied and which we passed to the government for clarification. Well, there again it prompted the government to come to Edmnton and come up with a new proposal.
The new proposal does not bring satisfaction to the Lubicons, and one of the reasons may be because the numbers are deceiving. When you have 10.5 million dollars of the 73 million for the value of land, the land that the Lubicon feel is their own land which they have never ceded. So if you throw 10.5 million into the numbers, and then another million or so to build a road, a provincial road to have access to the Lake, which they would eventually build anyway, as if that was part of the request that the Lubicon were making. So you have there about 11.5 million that is a substantial amount, that for all practical purposes is a ficticious number that is thrown in to make things look good. And there are other such numbers that are questioned by the Lubicon as not being real in terms of money source. We try to understand what the government is saying, and maybe the government is starting to move in offering a fair solution. There's a dispute between the value of money - the 1988 dollars and the 1992 dollars and the inflation factor and stuff like that the government is not taking into consideration. We can't buy today with the same amount of dollars what you were able to buy in 1988, we all know that.
So, our role is to try to hear people out and also to eventually come up with recommendations. And we're at the level right now where we're listening to people who are trying to give voice to the various players. And that's why we're grateful that you are here, both of you, today, to speak on behalf of the business community of Peace River. And, for the same reason that we've invited you, we've invited Daishowa and the reason that we've invited Daishowa is maybe they could somehow consult ... in a letter that he wrote to me turning down my invitation. But he asks this, in a paragraph, he says "We thank you for the acknowledgment that Daishowa has demonstrated it's sensitivity to this complex problem by modifying it's harvests and activities for the last two years, including a current logging moratorium and I ask both levels of government to give resolution of this matter the highest possible priority. We feel that these actions have played a part in making renewed discussions possible and continue to encourage the parties to achieve a fair and reasonable settlement." If Daishowa themselves recognize that they've demonstrated a sensitivity that has had an influence, an impact on the action of the government, we feel that this is very important, and by inviting them to appear, today was really to verify with them what are their plans in continuing to make possible the quick action of government in bringing about this resolution. We have other questions that we would like to raise with them, and maybe they don't feel comfortable in appearing before us in answering directly, but we hope that the questions that will be raised here this morning will be answered by them in writing. Because, for instance, a logging moratorium, which appears to us to be extremely important, we cannot hope to have negotiations in a violent environment and certainly for the Lubicons the logging of their unceded lands to them is an affront and a threat to their very livelihood that they do not tolerate. And in this context, their feeling is that the moratorium is certainly something very much to be desired. And what are the intentions of Daishowa? Are they going to maintain this position and this specific attitude for however long its going to take to bring about a resolution to this very complex situation. So this basically is why we wanted Daishowa to appear and help this Commission to do its job, and to work in a collaborative stance rather than a confrontational one. But we'll speak more about the Daishowa question down the road.
Michael Asch: I'm involved in this Commission - and each of us may or may not want to say why we are - I've been involved in issues regarding aboriginal rights for over twenty years. I've worked in the north, meaning in the Territories. I think I bring to this Commission an experience of what government policies are, what aboriginal aspirations are, what is possible within the existing policies, what is not, where possibilities are to move, in other words I am coming with some experience and a positive spirit that we might be able to make a good proposal that will help people resolve this. I don't believe that we stand a 100% chance of doing the exactly right thing that everyone likes, but it does stand a chance of producing something that will push all of the other things to get this issue resolved because none of us like to see it continue for long. I have really not had an opportunity to review the federal proposal in any detail, and so I am not in a position to discuss what the numbers mean. One of my serious concerns is that I would like to have the opportunity to ask rather than try to provide my own analysis without making and I'm hoping that the federal government will see this as an opportunity to provide answers that will help us. Some of us have experience in some areas and some of us have experience in other areas and it's in that vein, Mr. Mayor, that I would like to ask you a question. You suggested that we need to be - I think the statement of your Council that we have to keep in mind the question of fairness to all parties and there's a lot of different ways that fairness can go, and I have some ideas of my own, but if it's an occasion that you consider to be appropriate, I appreciate hearing from you any ideas that you might have that might help us, and I know you would like to see things move forward. So if you have anything that you would like to bring to us, I would appreciate it.
Michael Proctor: If I might respond, I think fair is the only ... but not just fair to one group and unfortunately in a great many scenes that we see not only in town but in Europe, the portrayal is that the government is totally unfair and the Lubicons are not being treated fairly. I guess what I look at is the settlements that have been made, you're probably more aware of the Territories certainly than I am, but the settlements that have been made in this area, most recently with the Woodland Cree, with other Native Bands in northwestern Alberta, and relating the settlements to the dollars and to the land involved and bearing in mind that I think it would be grossly unfair to give one particular Native Band, two, three times, any amount more in the way of dollars and/or land, than it would be to give to those, that have been given to those in the past. And that is one of the aspects that is fair. I guess also there comes the people who pay the bill and that's the taxpayers of this country who again have to be treated fairly. You have to assess the claim and try and reach a settlement that is fair to those people as well. Those are the two components that we looked at as being very important in what we thought was a fair resolution.
Don Aitken: My name is Don Aitken, I am the President of the Alberta Federation of Labour, and I have a great deal of concern about two issues, one, of course is jobs, and the other of course is a fair, and not only fair but just settlement for Canadians, and for Lubicons and for all Albertan people. So I think, it's ... there are a lot of people who will say that the contributions to Daishowa have not been fair in relation to other decisions that were made for business and for other people, and so I guess that's always a questionable issue. You did make a mention of the fact that you felt the Lubicon should be treated the same as your other neighbors such as Grimshaw and other communities around. I wonder if in fact the Council, the Peace River Council has taken a position in respect to self-government, as the Town of Peace River has self-government, as the Town of Grimshaw and other places. One of the major issues in the proposal for the Lubicon is self-government, and it's self-government for a number of reasons.
We heard a presentation yesterday from the women of the Lubicon Nation that talked about having absolutely no control over human services or the human side of their life, meaning their very survival. They basically don't have any say over that, whereas other communities do have a say. I wonder if in fact Peace River has made that decision to help out a self-government position for the Lubicon as that is one of the major issues among their proposals, is the ability to be able to live their life fairly, and in a just manner, and to make a that their community is safe. I should like to read you one part of the statement that came to us yesterday.
"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."
I know that in Peace River that is one of the major concerns, the quality of life of your people. This is the kind of thing, the message that we got yesterday when we were in Little Buffalo. Those are the things that we have to consider when we talk about fair and just settlements. It's not enough to have money to transfer from one account to another and say, there now you buy what's good for you. There are other things you have to have a say in. People who talk about the implications of Daishowa. These people see their water being effected by them, their air being effected by them. Those are the kinds of things self-government provides you with. So I wonder, if that is a direction that the Council has looked at, and if that's something you would be looking forward to supporting in the future?
Michael Proctor: I'm going to speak strictly on my own because I'm not, this is something that has not been discussed at the Council. But I would like to say that, what level of self-government are we talking about. I happen to chair the Mackenzie Regional Planning Commission which is a body of 16 municipalities in northwestern Alberta from the Peace River to the Territories border and I've had preliminary, informal discussions with some Native groups about the idea of them becoming involved, and I would be the strongest proponent of both Metis and Native groups becoming involved with self-government to a full municipal level. I don't know that I would support any higher level of government than full municipal level, yes, but I have grave concerns with different judicial systems in our country. I have grave concerns with levels of government at provincial and federal levels, other than what we have now, but to a full municipal corporation status I would be very supportive, which would give the rights for by-laws and various other things.
You made some comments about contributions to Daishowa, I'm not too sure exactly what you're referring to there other than possibly some infrastructure construction as there were no direct contributions to Daishowm made. Jobs. You mentioned jobs and that's one of the areas we looked at very critically in this part of the world, and I'm always intrigued at the difference of view, of points of view of this Federation of Labour at the moment, for instance, as opposed to Alberta, because forestry is so much bigger in B.C. I had the opportunity to speak on a panel with Jack Munroe a couple of months ago and it was interesting, the difference, but I don't know the extent of the damage that is being done to the water, in the area, the animals, that's something that is often a psychological thing rather than an actual thing, but as far as self-government is concerned, yes I would be very supportive.
Colleen McCrory: I just wanted to clarify one point. My understanding is that Daishowa received approximately 9 million dollars in federal money, apart from the infrastructure and road building for their new operation in Peace River.
Michael Proctor: Daishowa's total capitalization for the pulp mill ... the provincial government put in a figure of around 65 million dollars for roads and other construction, the federal government put in 9 or 10 million for the same thing ... in an agreement similar to that ...
Menno Wiebe: I'd like to speak to the comment opening the events about being dependent on the information of the advisors to the Lubicon Band. The Lubicon Band, their delegation, was the first to appear before this Commission and did so in full force in Edmonton, and our reason to travel to Peace River was premised exactly on that point, that we wanted to hear directly from the people, not only the elected members, but anyone who wished to make a statement had the opportunity to do so. So we take note of your concern and are very alert on it.
Sandy Day: I just wanted to make one comment, which you said about being taxpayers and about being fair. I'm a taxpayer too and I feel the same about going into this Commissiono particularly that I wanted it to be fair to all parties. However, from the readings, issues come up because I'm an Albertan and a Canadian citizen, I've directly benefited from the oil revenues and the oil that's been extracted from the Lubicon area and that extraction has contributed to the deterioration of their life and of their lifestyle and so I think that you also ought to think in all terms of fairness and that this has to all be included.
<Break: tape change>
John Macmillan: ... good statement to us and he [Mayor Proctor] has spent a lot of time running back and forth with the Lubicons and with me the last 2 1/2 years. I have no questions.
Jennifer Klimek: Any other Commissioners have a question?
Menno Wiebe: We are information gatherers and the Town of Peace River is probably more effected than any other community on this matter. Our duty, according to our mandate, is to formulate recommendations. Would you have a suggested course of action in terms of recommendations that could come out of this Commission, from your experience and your proximity to the Lubicon Nation?
Michael Proctor: The best recommendation I heard as to what should happen physically, and that was from Chief Ominayak himself, and that was what he hopes to do with the funds that are achieved from a settlement in providing: a) infrastructure for his people, and, b) sufficient funding to provide them with an alternative way of life that will replace what they feel, and quite rightly feel, they don't have at the moment. I thought his method of approach to it, and Don touched on it, in regards to the money transfer, you can't just transfer the money and let it be spent. Its got to be handled in a very judicious manner and put together in a way that will provide the Lubicon with the lifestyle they deserve.
As to the negotiations, Menno, that's a very difficult situation and, I just hope that what I read this morning in the paper, is not true, and that appears to be a lack of flexibility on the part of negotiations at this point. Because if people dig their heels in and say that's it, the heck with it, then we'll be back in the same position that we've been in for the last four or five years. Negotiations have got to continue, and the other idea that was mentioned by Ian, was the possibility of arbitrations, but it must not be allowed to die at this point.
Jacques Johnson: A couple of days ago, on our way up here, we stopped in a cafe and I met some people that I know and one gentleman happened to be a Woodland Cree. I was sharing with him some questions about how things are going and he said they're going well because there's money now in the community and they're building houses. Then he reflected, I kind of just wonder, after the houses are built and the money is spent, then what? I think it is a concern that they themselves have reflected upon and I've spoken to a few Woodland Cree over the past few months and there is concern about their future. We discussed it with economic development. After all of the infrastructures are built, the houses and the basic services, is there a future for them up there? Or does it mean that they're going to have to go back to a welfare-style of living. It's a concern that they have and it's a concern that I think the Lubicon have, that all of us have. We don't want to have a whole community of our people forever being condemned to live off welfare. Because ... that's fair and we don't see that, and because ... we don't see that as a positive future. One of the great concerns that we have is that the people, must, after a certain amount of time, have the resources to be able to live independently - not having to beg from us for sustenance, as indeed they have to do now. For them they are not going to sign at this present time unless they have the satisfaction they have the security of future economic development. It's something that we always have to be sympathetic about and understand. I wonder if yourselves, as local politicians, if you think it might be good to avail yourselves of these ... and to find out what's really behind them and to give support where support is due. I don't know if you have any comments on that. What are your views an a fair, just settlement, what does that entail?
Michael Proctor: I don't know that I could ever give you a dollar figure for what I consider to be enough. I suppose that depends on ... at which the group might want to depend on that dollar amount, to provide their sustenance, to provide their income. One would hope the dollar amount that is given will provide for them the opportunity to become productive in a way that would allow them to earn some money rather than to just draw the interest and pay them for ... Goodness, that's half the battle. Certainly, the Chief, as I mentioned earlier, that was one of his prime concerns and I had a great deal of sympathy, for-surely to goodness with the number of settlements that have been made in the past, and the number of settlements that have resulted in successful change of life for the Natives, and the number of settlements that are not successful, we should be able to draw on that experience to try and put one together that would work for all of us, including the Native people.
Jacques Johnson: But one other statement that you made previously was to say that the Lubicon shouldn't expect anymore than other settlements that have been agreed upon and I just have a question about that. If the Woodland Cree themselves are fearing for their future because they don't seee any real solid economic development possibilities, do you think that your statement still holds? Saying that the Lubicons should not be expecting to have more say than the Woodland Cree or any other such group that has settled in a way that would ... for anyone.
Michael Proctor: I don't think you can construe my comments to be a specific dollar value. I'm not saying that because the Woodland Cree got "X" then the Lubicon should get "X". Surely that has to depend on a number of factors and those would be population - sorry, I can't compare. Although I have been in discussion with the Woodland Cree as to what they feel their settlement will or will not achieve for them.
Jennifer Klimek: Are there any other questions from the Commissioners? On behalf of the Commission I would like to thank you for welcoming us to your community and more importantly for sharing your views and experiences. I think it's important that we've been in the community that is most effected in terms of the future of the people there. Being in Edmonton is very distant but you people actually live with it. Thank you for sharing your time with us.
Michael Proctor: Thank you, and I certainly wouldn't consider ourselves to be the most effected, obviously that would be the Lubicon themselves, but again thank you for coming.
Ed Banchi: Thanks very much Jennifer, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the members of the Commission for giving Friends of the Lubicon the opportunity to make this presentation today. We weren't exactly totally prepared for this because we did not get confirmation that we would be presenting until just a few days ago, so if our presentation is a little bit rusty I hope you'll forgive us.
Perhaps I should explain who we are, first, to give you a better idea of where we're coming from in terms of actions on behalf of the Lubicon. Friends of the Lubicon Toronto is a working group for the Lubicon Nation. We took our name from a coalition of groups in Alberta, actually, that came together on occasion in response to requests from the Lubicon people. In Toronto what we try to do is act as a liason between the Lubicon Nation and the people in Ontario. We also try to act as information-diseminators, in the sense that we try to inform people in Ontario, particularly the Metropolitan Toronto area, about what is happening in Alberta with the Lubicon community.
Friends of the Lubicon in Toronto feel that possibly the greatest threat now to the survival of the Lubican community is the Daishowa Paper Manufacturing Company because Daishowm is planning to clear cut almost the entire traditional territory of the Lubicon Cree. The leases that Daishowa has cover the entire traditional territory and in terms of what kind of effect that will have on the community itself, we think it's severe enough that it necessitates some kind of action on behalf of Lubicon supporters everywhere. So we have taken that an as our prime action at this time. We launched the boycott nationally in November of 1991 in Ottawa at the Assembly of First Nations and to date we have managed to gain the support of about 30 organizations in Canada as well as close to 20 organizations internationally including Germany, Japan, Australia, Belgium, Britain, Austria and Luxembourg. We've also, so far, and in conjunction with Friends of the Lubicon groups in Alberta, contacted a total of about 213 businesses that use Daishowa paper products. So far, about 15 of those businesses have decided to join the boycott in support of the Lubicon Cree and we're still going after the other twelve that have yet to join the boycott. We are still actively pursuing research and investigation in terms of finding out other users of Daishowa products and approaching them in the hopes that they will be able to join the boycott as well.
People have asked us why we chose to "pick on" Daishowa, since Daishowa is an innocent third-party, or so-called innocent third-party. The answer is really very simple; there is no other business, or organization, or group, at this time, that is planning to clear cut the entire traditional territory of the Lubicon Cree. So it's really a matter of focussing our attention where the threat is greatest. What we hope to accomplish by doing this is putting, or maintaining the moratorium, or whatever you want to call it, on the logging, and we're hoping that by gaining support, growing international and national support, we can bring about a speedy resolution to the Lubicon land rights settlement, and that this will lead to some kind of resolution that will be beneficial for all parties involved, especially for the Lubicon Cree.
I don't know exactly what the Commission has in mind in terms of what they would want to hear from Friends of the Lubicon, so I think that what I will do is let you ask me questions and perhaps we can take it from there.
Jennifer Klimek: How long have the Friends of the Lubicon been working on this issue?
Ed Banchi: The boycott issue or the support?
Jennifer Klimek: The support.
Ed Banchi: Friends of the Lubicon in Toronto started with three people who had visited the community Little Buffalo and had met with members of the community and that was in 1988. Since then we've grown to a core group of about 20 people and we have a working network of organizations that go all across Canada and that are focussed mainly in southern Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.
Michael Asch: I'm wondering, we're asking people who come up about how they might see a resolution to the Lubicon's government issue. I'm wondering whether your group, or you yourself, have any ideas that you might wish to share with us. I'm interested In particular about the self -government aspect, but certainly any aspect, self - sufficiency, any aspect that you'd like to address I'd appreciate hearing from you about.
Ed Banchi: Okay. In terms of possible recommendations in terms of how to come to a resolution of this issue, I think we can learn a lot by looking at a little bit of the history, in the sense that when the oil development started to effect the Lubicon people they tried the normal channels of approaching, of going through the courts, and trying the normal channels of negotiation, and those seem to have not brought about too much success. While the Lubicon were trying to see their land rights recognized, the oil development continued to the extent where it really had a serious effect, as you know, on their lifestyle and their community.
I think that in terms of forestry we [Friends of the Lubicon] are not going to let this happen again, in the sense that they didn't want to try negotiations that were going nowhere, and they didn't want to try court battles and so forth, because these were perceived as further stalling tactics by government and by the corporations, who have a vested interest in making sure these negotiations are stalled as long as possible, since we all know that that part of Alberta, taking into consideration the oil and wood revenues, is probably one of the more valuable pieces of land in the whole country.
What Friends of the Lubicon see as being a possible avenue to pursue in terms of finding some kind of resolution is to build public support. I think that what the government will listen to is public support that is persistent and constant. We've found that we've been very successful in Toronto by being persistent. Some people in Toronto say that all you have to do to get ahead is return phone calls. We've found that by returning phone calls, and by keeping after people in terms of letting them know about the Lubicon situation and giving them information and answering their questions and informing them about what's happening in northern Alberta, and basically just raising awareness of the Lubicon situation, what has happened is that people have come to realize better what is going on and the fact that it is not an insurmountable problem, that it's a problem that can be worked out if people just begin to think rationally and honestly and act truthfully and that they don't try to deceive and put out proposals or responses to proposals that are geared to dividing communities and that are geared to undermining serious negotiations.
Friends of the Lubicon have put a lot of effort into trying to build a network that understands the Lubicon situation and that supports the Lubicon situation. We think that the most important thing at this time is to build a broad base of public support because that's one thing the government, I think will listen to, if there is a large body of people speaking with the same voice in terms of what they feel is required to bring about a resolution in this case. If you remember the blockade of 1988, when it became clear that the Lubicon were not going to back down in that blockade, and when it became clear that there were supporters being bussed in from across the country, that they were willing to stick it out for as long as it took, that's when it shook the Provincial government into a little bit of action and that resulted in the Grimshaw Accord. A few years before that when Unocol tried to put a pipeline through the area that the Lubicon want for a reserve, public outcry again stopped that from happening and resulted in an agreement between the Lubicon and Unocal that was satisfactory to both sides.
Friends of the Lubicon doesn't think that we can do too little in terms of educating people about what's happening in northern Alberta, and we strongly believe that once people find out the truth about the situation then that's a big step towards finding some kind of resolution.
Michael, you mentioned self-government, sel-reliance and I'm not quite sure what you meant in terms of the question you asked.
Michael Asch: Well I think the answer you gave me was important information for us, the only other aspect of it is, I wondered whether you had considered any of the, or looked at or considered any of the specific aspects of various proposals that have been put forward and whether you had any view as to how we might be able to resolve, help to resolve, as we're surely not going to resolve it ourselves.
Ed Banchi: That's a good question. The proposal that the Lubicon have put forward, as you know, has in it all of that is required to insure that what befalls the Lubicon community is not the same thing that befalls the example that Father Johnson brought up in terms of the Woodland Cree. It is a proposal that Friends of the Lubicon have studied, with the assistance of the Lubicon people, and we've come to the conclusion that it is a fair proposal, especially when one takes into account the amount of resources that have been taken from the Lubicon land, without any compensation going to the Lubicon. I think that when talking about these things we have to keep in mind how reasonable the Lubicori people have been in terms of negotiations. The comments made earlier in terms of being rigid and not wanting to negotiate, I think, were a little bit off base. I think if you study the Lubicon proposal you'll see that there are concessions that the Lubicon have made that are for the oil companies, and those concessions were made in an attempt to, as a goodwill gesture, in an attempt to bring about some kind of resolution a little bit sooner. When Premier Getty signed the Grimshaw Accord with Chief Ominayak he again showed serious - it was a goodwill gesture - and he was in total agreement with the Lubicon people in terms of their requirements.
What keeps us going in Toronto in terms of our motivation, is the extent to which the governments tend to go, and the resources that they tend to spend in trying to undermine this Lubicon proposal. If you put together all the money that they've spent in trying to undermine the Lubicon, I think that you go way above whatever the totals that the Lubicon people are asking for. We have often asked ourselves what we can do to try to bring about some kind of resolution and I think it's important to keep trying to educate people about the situation and to make sure that people are clear as to where both sides, or all sides are coming from, especially the Lubicon and the governments. In the meantime I think it's important, and if we may be so bold as to make a recommendation, I think that it is important that there be no further development on Lubicon territory that threatens the continuing survival of that community. If that doesn't take place, then all the negotiating, or stalling, whatever you want to call it, that goes on in the meantime will be to no effect because if there is, when there is a settlement, it may be too late for the Lubicon in terms of any kind of future that they're going to establish for themselves. The important thing for the Lubicon I think, is that development of all kind he put on hold for awhile and this may convince the government, that this is a serious situation that they have to deal with. Because they don't seem to listen too much to the concerns of the Lubicon, but they tend to react a little bit quicker and with a little bit more resolve when it involves the interests of resource extracting companies and organizations.
Norm Boucher: When you talk about boycotting Daishowa. have you ever thought about the amount of people working in northern Alberta involved in the forests, besides the Lubicon? Have you thought about that?
Ed Banchi: Definately. We've taken that into consideration, and have realized that boycotts may in turn effect some forestry workers, but at the same time we are not forgetting the fact that if the logging goes ahead, it will have a serious, serious effect on the Lubicon people as well. And while we don't want to weigh one group of people against another, I think that you will agree that having your traditional territory clear - cut and having that last link to your traditional lifestyle totally destroyed, tends to outweigh the potential job losses which would be temporary in nature in any case.
Norm Boucher: When you are talking about boycotting Daishowa, at the moment Daishowa is not logging on the Lubicon lands. You're automatically effecting the people. That's all they have to make a living in northern Alberta.
Ed Banchi: At the moment Daishowa is not logging on Lubicon Land, that's true and without meaning to sound presumptious, we think theboycott itself is partly respnsible for the fact that Daishoa is not logging on Lubicon land. There's an old saying that goes ‘There is no justice without publicity', and I think the publicity that the boycott generated has resulted in a little bit of justice for the Lubicon in the sense that it has kept the clear cutters of Lubicon Land. We have to remember that there was an agreement made between Daishowa and the Lubicon people; between Daishowa and Chief Ominayak, that Daishowa would not cut on Lubicon territory until there was a land rights settlement in place. Daishowa has already broken that agreement and Friends of the Lubicon, in response to the request from the Lubicon Nation, have decided to initiate the boycott to make sure that Daishowa sticks to that agreement and doesn't start cutting an Lubicon land.
Norm Boucher: Where do you fit those aboriginal people that work in the forests as loggers if you wish, if you boycott?
Ed Banchi: Daishowa has it's own tricks up their sleeves and they have used Native sub-contractors in the forest, in terms of hiring them to do their cutting for them. They may have learned this one from the federal government - its just a way of pitting one group against another - and here they're pitting Native foresters against a Native community that is seeing their land rights violated. It's not something that we ignore, but it's also something that is not the fault of the Lubicon people. They're not the ones who hired the Native foresters, and they're not the ones who have initiated cutting on their territory and they're not the ones who have broken the agreement.
Don Aitken: Ed, first of all I'd like to thank you for being here. I know that you've been involved with the Lubicons for a number of years, that you've been around the issue for a considerable time and quite a bit of depth. I know the frustration that leads to boycotts. The labour movement unfortunately are faced with them on an all to regular basis and we know that they are an equalizer. If you are going to even deal with people you have to deal with people as equals, otherwise there's never going to be any fair and just negotiations. Part of the difficulty with the situation that I see now, what's going on in the Lubicon situation, is that there's only one loser and that is the Lubicon Nation. There's nothing to be gained by the oil and gas industry or the pulp industry or the governments by settling. It's not in their interest to settle. How do we make this a more equal situation where in fact both sides sitting at the table have a reason to solve the problem? I know that this is what the boycott is trying to accomplish, but we could go through another fifty years of putting pressure here and there and everyone would go through the exercise of being frustrated, but meanwhile the genocide which is going on among the Lubicons will have been accomplished and it will be history rather than a problem that needs to be dealt with now. We've been looking for ways to try to come up with some way of equalizing the people at the table so that it will be in everybody's interest to resolve this. I'm sure you've given it some thought. Perhaps you can give us some ideas or some insight into how you see that being accomplished.
Ed Banchi: We definately don't want to be around for fifty years organizing a boycott against the Daishowa Paper Mfg. Co., and putting aside difficulties we have with some of Daishowa's forest harvesting practices, particularly the clear cut, we think that until the government decides that it's in their best interest to settle with the Lubicon, then it's our responsibility to try to work the situation so that it becomes in their best interest. That means that if we get enough supporters and if we build up a broad enough base of support, then the government will see, for one, that there's enough people out there that care enough about the Lubicon people that it will make a difference if they do settle, in that it will make them lock good, if that's possible. That's really what we're striving for i terms of this. We're not out to take away jobs from foresters. We're not out to make anybody's life mserable but we are out to try and find a way to set things up so that the Lubicon can go on living their lives the way they want to. We don't have the resources ofovernments and multinationals in terms of public relations companies, and we don't have access to the resources they have in terms ofunds and ifrastructure, but what we have is a strong belief in fact that what we are doing is the right thing. What we are trying to do is inform other people so that they will share the same opinion. We think, to paraphrase another tired, old cliche, ‘there's nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come'. Maybe if the idea that it's better if we work together to try and come to some kind of settlement, instead of playing games with responses to proposals that go all the way back to square one and that do nothing but alienate people even further. If people will sit back and realize that if we work together it will be better for everyone then our task will be accomplished.
John Macmillan: I would like to speak, to say something to you, not on behalf of the Commission, but on behalf of the people of this community. I've spent over three years trying to keep peace between the Lubicon and the working people, the working people of this community. If you're going to start taking jobs away from those communities it'll make it goddamn hard for those Natives to come into town here. I don't think you're doing the right thing by boycotting. Why don't you stick around town here for a little bit and lock at the working man's side of it. The truck driver that's got a family. These other people who've got families. I think that you're doing the right thing to an extent, but follow it through and look what the white man's doing here too. Here I am trying to make peace, so those people can come into town, spend their dollars like they've been doing for 50 years, and I've been here for 60. You're sitting down in Toronto, starting this kind of stuff, I can't buy thato, but I'm speaking not on behalf of the Commission, but on behalf of the working man of this community. That's all I've got to say on that.
Ed Banchi: I think that's a really good example of exactly what the government is trying to do. Our goal is to try to help the Lubicon people. Faced with past history and past experiences, we've come to the conclusion that this is a very effective means of trying to reach some kind of resolution. What happens is that in the meantime people forget that the federal government is the one that is responsible for everything that has happened to date and rather than getting mad at each other - working people getting mad at activists, or Lubicon supporters or whatever you want to call it - rather than that happening I think that what we should try to do is work together to convince the government that it would be better for everybody if we just took this thing seriously and stopped playing games. This is the point. That's what we mean when we say we are trying to get people to understand the real situation. I'm not from Toronto. I was born in British Columbia and I was raised in British Columbia and I've seen what clear cutting has done to the forests there. I've spent a lot of time in a lot of different parts of the country. I've spent a lot of time with the Lubicon and I've spent a lot of time trying to understand what's going on there. My father is a working class type too, he drove a truck for a living, and my mother was a seamstress. It's not like I'm coming from some high academic background. I understand what the working class situation is like. But I also understand what the Lubicon situation is like and I understand that it's not the working man's problem in the sense that he's the one that has created the problem, and it's not the Lubicon that have created the problems. It's the federal government that has created the problem. What we have to do is work together and focus on the federal government and get them to get their act together. At least you have the courage to make that statement, and at least I have the courage to sit here and make my statement. The only people who don't have enough courage to make a statement is the federal government, and they're the ones that are most responsible for everything that is going on here. That's what motivates us - is the fact that this government which is supposedly elected by us is the one that is undermining all our lives in the interest, in this case, of a multinational whose assets are in another country. We're not trying to take jobs away from people. We're not trying to ruin anyone's life. We're doing what we thing in the best thing to bring about a resolution and at the same time preserve what the Lubicon have right now. Because if we let Daishowa go in there and start cutting then it's going to be too late. Then we might as well all go home and watch t.v. or whatever, because if all those trees are gone the Lubicon will have nothing to work with in terms of rebuilding their society. That's a scenario which they see too. What will happen is that groups like us will be trod over, Daishowa will be allowed go in there and cut, all the oil will be taken out of there, and when there's no money left to be taken out then the federal government will come out with open hands and say, what the heck, we'll double whatever you want in your proposal, and you can take everything you've got. But I don't think that's what the Lubicon want.
Menno Wiebe: I think what we're learning from this exchange is that the conflict that really resides between the Lubicon Band and federal government since the federal government has the constitutional mandate to look after the justice of the aboriginal people. We're seeing a transfer of that conflict from the federal-Native scene to a Native-working peoples. So there's a transfer of that conflict. In the meantime there's the, luxury, if you want, of long distance remoteness from the conflict and I think you're helping us see that this is happening and the bad feelings happen locally and they don't belong here.
But I would like to ask Ed, you heard the presentation by the Mayor and by the President of the Board of Trade, and they make the point that the negotiations should be between the federal government and the Lubicon Nation and feel that Daishowa is wrongly being targeted as the perpetrator here. How would you make that transfer? You're addressing Daishowa. Is it not the federal government the one that should be addressed since they are the ones, together with the Province, who issue the permit and provide access to these tremendous resources in this area.
Ed Banchi: I agree that the constitutional responsibility for this situation rests with the federal government, and I agree that in terms of our boycott action we're dealing specifically with Daishowa .....
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Jacques Johnson: ... resolution to the problem and that Daishowm has answered the plea of many members of this Commission who have written to him [Daishowa V.P. Tom Hamaoka] asking precisely that logging not be done on Lubicon land and that he put his efforts to getting the government to negotiate. I know that he has done that. He went to Edmonton and spoke very strongly asking the governments to bring about a settlement which is fair to the Lubicon. I don't know if you have any comments about these statements of his. If you think there is more that Daishowa can do than Daishowa is actually doing?
Ed Banchi: Well, that takes us right back to the beginning in the sense that when we launched the boycott we stated that we would continue with boycott actions until Daishowa lived up to the agreement it made in 1988 with Chief Ominayak and that was that they would not cut on Lubicon territory until there was settlement. Unless I've missed it somewhere along the line, Daishowa has not come out and said that they will not cut, or buy wood that's cut on Lubicon territory, until there is a settlement. We're encouraged by what seems to be movement in terms of Hamaoka approaching the government and trying to push towards a resolution, but we're discouraged by the fact that Hamaoka refuses to make this unequivocal statement in terms of the Lubicon territory. And we're discouraged by Siddon, or, the response to the Lubicon proposal that came out recently, because if that response is an indication of what happens when Daishowa tries to bring about a resolution, well, it may be a situation where we may not want Daishowa's help in this matter.
Jennifer Klimek: Are there any further questions?
Colleen McCrory: With regards to Daishowa, have you looked at the volume of wood that Daishowa plans to harvest on Lubicon territory, with or without a settlement. After the settlement, the volume of harvest that's going to be taken from that territory?
Ed Banchi: Well I don't have the numbers in front of me, but what we do know is that the leases that Daishowa has cover the entire traditional territory of the Lubicon and the plans that Daishowa has are to implement clear cutting practices over most of the extent of that lease. So, the Lubicon territory is 10,000 square kilometers but I don't have numbers as to volume.
Jennifer Klimek: I think that's all the questions the Commissioner's have. We'd like to thank you for attending today Mr. Bianchi and we extend our appreciation to you. Thank you.
Ed Banchi: In closing I'd like to return the thanks and once again reiterate that we appreciate the opportunity to make our statements known and our position known and want to emphasize the fact that Friends of the Lubicon are not out to create misery in anybody's lives but in fact are sincerely working towards some kind of resolution. We're Friends of the Lubicon, and if you've over spoken to a Lubicon you'll know that what they are interested in is the well being of their community because this will translate into a better situation for people who come in contact with them. So we're not trying to make anyone's life worse, we're trying sincerely to make people's lives better.
Jennifer Klimek: Thank you. Can we have a short break. I'd like to meet with all the Commissioners.
[This hearing was adjourned immediately after the break.]
Go to: Transcript of Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review Public Hearing - Day Six