Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
Little Buffalo Lake, AB
3536 - 106 Street
Edmonton, AB T6J 1A4
September 20, 1992
Enclosed for your information is a copy of the deliberately deceitful and misleading propaganda package on the continuing Lubicon tragedy being distributed abroad by the Canadian Government. Enclosed also is a copy of the letter which the London-based organization receiving the package sent to the Canadian Government by way of response.
A point by point refutation of the Government's propaganda package doesn't seem necessary at this point, since the deliberate distortions, misrepresentations and outright lies which it contains have already been repeatedly documented. Any specific questions which it might raise in anyone's mind should be addressed to the Lubicon office in Edmonton and a detailed response will be provided.
July 17, 1992, letter from the Canadian High Commission to Catholic Action for Native America 1992, 65a Navarino Road, London, E8 1AG, England
Given your concern for native North Americans and the visit to this country by Lorraine Sinclair of the Mother Earth Healing Society of Canada, you may be interested in the attached information.
Leonard J. Mader
Counsellor, Public Affairs
GOVERNMENT OF CANADA COMMUNIQUE
STATUS OF LUBICON LAKE CLAIM
In 1933, the heads of fourteen Indian families living near Lubicon Lake petitioned the federal government. They stated that they were treaty Indians and mostly members of the Whitefish Lake Band, which had received a reserve in 1908. However, the families said they lived apart from the Whitefish Lake Band and that they wanted a reserve of their own at Lubicon Lake.
In 1939, the government agreed to recognize them as a band and to provide a 25.4 square mile reserve for their population of 127 people, in accordance with the provisions of Treaty 8.
The Second World War intervened and, in the years following, the claim was not pursued. During this period the band was treated like all other bands. It received government support for housing, band salaries and administration, education and social assistance.
THE LUBICON CLAIM
In 1980 the Lubicon Lake Band filed a statement of claim in the Federal Court of Canada against Canada, Alberta and various oil companies.
The Lubicon claim was in three parts:
- they had aboriginal title; failing that,
- they were within the Treaty 8 area and were entitled to a settlement based upon its benefits; and failing that,
- they were promised a reserve which they had yet to receive.
In their statement of claim, the band maintained that it represented approximately 200 people who sought title to 25,000 square miles -- approximately 10 per cent of the province of Alberta -- along with $1 billion in damages. Since the federal court can only hear actions against the federal government and its institutions, the band later initiated a second action against Alberta and 11 oil companies in the Alberta courts.
The band's billion dollar claim, and a later demand that oil and gas activity be shut down, captured the attention of the media.
The federal government has not accepted the band's claim to have aboriginal title -- thereby rejecting their claim to 25,000 square miles -- since aboriginal rights to land had been dealt with by Treaty 8. It is, therefore, the second or third parts of the claim which Canada has accepted and has been trying to settle.
The basis of the claim is found in Treaty No. 8, signed in 1899 between the Federal Crown and the Indians of Northern Alberta, among others. The Treaty provides for one square mile of land for a family of five, or 128 acres per Indian, plus other benefits. Both the federal and provincial governments acknowledge that the land is owed and that the Treaty claim is valid. The main obstacle to final settlement is the band's continued demands for monetary compensation.
Alberta has offered the Lubicon Lake Cree 95 square miles of land for a reserve, inclusive of mines and minerals. This meets a demand of the band and has been accepted by it. It would create the sixth largest reserve in Alberta, even though the Lubicon Lake Band is only the 29th largest band in the province.
In addition, in a formal offer made in January 1989, Canada offered $34 million to build a new community including up to 133 new houses, a band office, sewer and water system, community hall and school. Canada also offered to provide another $10.4 million for an economic development package, all of which would not prejudice any further court challenges the Lubicon Band might launch to win additional compensation under Treaty 8.
Both the Alberta and Canadian governments have tried repeatedly to resolve the claim. Numerous attempts have been made to settle outstanding differences but to date all offers have been rejected. Fortunately, land is no longer an issue as the band has agreed to the provincial offer of 95 square miles to create a reserve.
Compensation is the remaining issue in this dispute. Both governments are offering a total of $15,000,000 to be used for socio-economic development without restriction on its use. There would be no tax on any of these funds.
The band now seeks $170,000,000. Its case against Canada is a demand for the band's share of programs and services since 1899 -- an issue which Canada has invited the Band to pursue in the courts. The Lubicon Lake Band has refused to do this.
In 1984, it started an appeal to the United Nations Human Rights Committee. The Committee's finding confirmed what the Government of Canada has already acknowledged -- that an obligation to the Lubicons exists which must be settled.
The Human Rights Committee found that the offer which Canada has already made to the band is fair and reasonable and would meet any obligation Canada has under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. After examining the facts, the UN agreed that the government offer to the Lubicon Lake Indians is an appropriate remedy. When this decision was released in May, 1990 the Minister for Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Tom Siddon, indicated the government's desire to resolve this matter and expressed the hope that band leaders would accept the offer.
The Lubicon leadership has so far refused. The government cannot impose a settlement on the band.
London, January 1992
LUBICON LAKE INDIAN BAND AND DAISHOWA
DO THE LUBICON LAKE INDIAN BAND HAVE A VALID CLAIM FOR ABORIGINAL RIGHTS TO 25,000 SQUARE MILES (OR EVEN 10,000 SQUARE KILOMETRES) IN THE PROVINCE OF ALBERTA?
The Lubicon Lake Indian Band no longer has a valid claim for aboriginal rights to land.
Under Canadian constitutional law, aboriginal rights can be extinguished and replaced by treaty rights. In the case of the Lubicon Lake Indians, they reside within the boundaries established by Treaty 8, which was entered into with the Cree and other Indians of the area in 1899.
The Canadian government acknowledges that the Lubicon Lake Band has a valid claim to benefits under Treaty 8. These rights form the basis of offers of the Canadian and Alberta governments to the band. The government offer of 247 square kilometres of land (95 square miles) for a reserve for the band is thus related to the treaty provisions. It is in this area that special measures have been taken in recent years to ensure that lumbering and oil and gas extraction do not occur.
The amounts involved in aboriginal land claims by the Lubicon Lake Band have varied. Complaints by the band regarding possible lumbering or oil extraction refer to activities -- not on lands identified in proposed agreements between the band and the provincial and federal governments -- but on wider territories.
It should also be noted that other communities, including native communities, use the larger territories. The Lubicon Lake Band can not rightly claim exclusive use.
IS THE TRADITIONAL LIFESTYLE OF THE LUBICON LAKE INDIAN BAND AFFECTED BY ACTIVITIES OF DAISHOWA PAPER MANUFACTURING COMPANY?
The area where members of the Lubicon Lake Band have historically hunted and trapped is largely covered by natural forest. This includes areas identified for the band's reserve as well as wider territories.
Treaty 8, which extends over Northern Alberta, contains provisions for hunting, fishing and trapping by Indians on tracts which are not taken up for settlement, lumbering, mining or other purposes. Lumbering in this area is thus specifically recognized under the treaty. The management of timber leases is the responsibility of the province of Alberta.
In the case of Daishowa, a forest management agreement between Daishowa Canada Co. Ltd and the province was signed in September 1989. It overlaps the 10,000 square kilometres claimed by the Lubicon; it provides that only a small portion of the forest will be logged at any time so as to permit regrowth of the forest; it also specifically excludes logging near the proposed Lubicon Lake Band reserve.
In October 1990, Daishowa indicated that it would voluntarily not log in the 10,000 square kilometre area claimed by the Lubicon Lake Band. It said that it wanted to avoid a confrontation and expressed the hope that an agreement could be reached soon between the Lubicon Lake Band and governments. The government offer to the Lubicon Lake Band provides that members of the band have the opportunity to pursue either a meaningful traditional lifestyle or to participate in the modern Canadian economy.
ARE THERE ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS WITH THE DAISHOWA OPERATION IN ALBERTA?
There are several court cases underway at this time. It would therefore not be appropriate to comment on them. The following is provided as background.
The Little Red River Cree Nation (LRRCN) filed an affidavit in February 1990 saying that a proper environmental assessment of the Daishowa Mill was not carried out. Water quality, not forestry, was the main issue in this case. It appears that an out-of-court settlement between the company and the LRRCN is imminent. This would likely include the establishment of a mill and river monitoring committee involving the first nations, private industry and the provincial and federal governments.
August 24, 1992, letter from Catholic Action for Native America 1992 to Leonard J. Mader, Counsellor, Public Affairs, Canadian High Commission, Macdonald House, 1 Grosvenor Square, London W1X OAB
Dear Mr. Mader,
Thank you very much for your letter of July 17th and enclosures. We were pleased to know of the High Commission's interest in Lorraine Sinclair's visit to Britain, and grateful that you had taken the trouble to write not only to our office but also to the World Education and Development Group in Canterbury, where, among many other places, Lorraine addressed a meeting.
The material which you sent to us and to WEDG, entitled Status of Lubicon Lake Claim, was particularly helpful, since it was laid out in an easy-to-refute manner. In consequence, we decided to give the Lubicon people's struggle for justice greater prominence during Lorraine's tour and managed to gain greater public sympathy for the Lubicon cause.
We were also able to sell a number of copies of John Goddard's excellent book, Last Stand of the Lubicon Cree, proceeds of which will go directly to the Lubicon Lake Indian Nation.
One person, moved by the plight of the Lubicon people, made a donation of 15 pounds (some $30 in 1992 dollars) towards their cause. We urge that your Government make this figure up to $170 million (in 1988 dollars) to cover the full figure of $70 million for construction and $100 million for compensation for stolen resources, the figures which the Lubicon Lake Indian Nation is justly demanding.
The Federal Government will certainly have to do a great deal better than its latest 'offer' to the Lubicon people, which amounts to somewhat less than the previous "take-it-or-leave-it" offer when translated into 1988 dollars, and which still contains no provision whatever for compensation for the million dollars a day in resources stolen from the Lubicon people since 1979.
We would be grateful if you would be so good as to make the contents of this letter known to the Canadian Government. We shall be sharing it with the Lubicon Lake Indian Nation and with the Opposition.
for the CAFNA '92 Committee