Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
Little Buffalo Lake, AB
3536 - 106 Street
Edmonton, AB T6J 1A4
August 27, 1992
Enclosed for your information is a copy of an editorial on Lubicon media relations which appeared in the August 12th edition of the Peace River Record Gazette, along with a copy of a related letter to the editor from Lubicon advisor Fred Lennarson.
3536 - 106 Street
Edmonton, AB T6J 1A4
August 25, 1992
Peace River Record Gazette
Peace River, Alberta
Your August 12th editorial entitled "Careful Working of the Media is the Strategy" suggests that the issue of Lubicon land rights is different outside the Peace Country because the people in the Peace Country know the truth. Perhaps but certainly not from reading the Peace River Record Gazette.
The editorial charges that the Lubicons have been "ignoring the local (Peace River) media since the blockade of 1988 in favour of "contacting all national media, and specifically the Edmonton media outlets", supposedly because outsiders are more easily deceived and "the (outside) media consumer is oh so sympathetic to causes they really know nothing about". In fact the Peace River Record Gazette is on exactly the same Lubicon media contact list as everybody else and is faxed exactly the same media notices as everybody else at exactly the same time.
Proceeding from the false charge that the Lubicons "ignore the local media" the editorial goes on to suggest that there are "two very distinct reasons for this". Firstly, the editorial says, the Lubicons supposedly don't consider the local media sufficiently important to deal with. And secondly, it says, "it is easy for the local media to examine the allegations and quickly refute them... (as in the case)...when the so-called bar-room brawl occurred between Fred Lennarson, an Austrian visitor, some local Lubicon band members and some Daishowa workers in a local pub".
Without getting into the array of factual inaccuracies in Record Gazette coverage of that "so-called bar-room brawl", suffice it to say that there were no Lubicon band members involved -- not even in Record Gazette Editor Fred Rinne's fanciful reporting and editorializing about the incident at the time.
The editorial charges that neither the Peace River Record Gazette nor CKYL radio in Peace River were informed of a Lubicon Settlement Commission meeting in Little Buffalo Lake on August 6th, nor of a Lubicon Settlement Commission meeting in Peace River on August 7th until noon on August 6th, but that "visitors from Germany and Switzerland were on hand, indicating (the Swiss and the Germans) did have some forewarning that this was happening". In fact the Swiss visitors and German public television crew didn't come to the Peace Country for Commission meetings in Little Buffalo and Peace River but were coincidentally in Little Buffalo and Peace River at the time doing reports on the Lubicon situation -- checking out the facts if you will -- and the Peace River Record Gazette did receive notice of both meetings by fax two weeks earlier -- along with everybody else on the Lubicon media contact list. (CKYL did not receive notice along with everybody else two weeks earlier because they weren't on the Lubicon media contact list at the time, an oversight which with apologies has since been corrected.)
Lastly the editorial charges "censorship (by the Lubicons) through selective omission" of the Peace River media, "demonstrates", the editorial says, "that it is not in someone's best interest for all the facts to be revealed". In fact the embattled Lubicons do their beleaguered best to get all of the facts out, including voluntarily appearing publicly before the Lubicon Settlement Commission and answering questions about their position on the issues -- something which neither level of Canadian Government has yet agreed to do -- and the facts are there for anybody to see, including even the Editor of the Peace River Record Gazette if he ever decides to deal in facts instead of high school level polemics.
Fredric M. Lennarson
Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak
Bob Brace, CKYL News Director
Drs. Heinz Lippuner and Peter Gerber
Heinz Dietz and Georg Roloff
Lubicon Settlement Commission
Editorial appearing in August 12, 1992, Peace River Record-Gazette
CAREFUL WORKING OF THE MEDIA IS THE STRATEGY
Lubicon land claim issue is very different outside the Peace Country than it is here
The independent ? Commission, studying the Lubicon land claim issue, came through Peace River last week, right on the heels of the announcement by Chief Bernard Ominayak that his people had turned down the latest federal offer of land and cash totalling $73 million.
The Lubicon Cree, who have been negotiating (on-again, off-again) a land claim settlement with the government for decades now, have dwindled in numbers over the years, as disgruntled members have left to join other bands or begin new ones.
Since the blockade of 1988, the band, with plenty of help from its advisors, has undertaken a very precise and specific strategy to deal with the media. Usually, this means contacting all national media, and specifically the Edmonton media outlets, with their concerns, while instead, choosing to ignore the local media.
There appears to be two very distinct reasons for this.
The first; the local media must be perceived to be small fish, and since the Lubicons, and Chief Ominayak in particular, have become media darlings, especially in Edmonton and in Europe, they see no need in keeping the local media up-to-date on developments at Little Buffalo.
The second, is simply that being so close to the source, it is easy for the local media to examine the allegations made and quickly confirm or refute them. This was the case when the so-called bar-room brawl occurred between Fred Lennarson, an Austrian visitor, some Lubicon band members and some Daishowa workers in a local pub.
The city media, and some national affiliates, were quick to take Mr. Lennarson's account of the incident as gospel and spread it verbatim across the country.
After a short investigation, the real story of what happened was very evident...but that wouldn't be big news in the city, now would it?
No, both this paper and CKYL, were not informed of the commissions trip to Little Buffalo, Thursday, nor the hearing at the Travellers, Friday, until noon Thursday. Yet, visitors from Germany and Switzerland, were on hand, indicating they did have some forewarning that this was happening.
Simply put, it is easy to portray an image of a story at a distance where reports are taken as fact, numbers are grossly inflated, and reality becomes a clouded image only dressed up for the media consumer in the big market which is oh so sympathetic to causes they really know nothing about.
All concerned parties wish the Lubicon land claim issue can be solved to everyone's satisfaction, and yes, there are some very valid concerns that need to be addressed out there.
But censorship, through selective omission, only demonstrates that it is not in someone's best interest for all the facts to be revealed.