News Story Misleading on Crucial Points


Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
Little Buffalo Lake, AB
403-629-3945
FAX: 403-629-3939

Mailing address:
3536 - 106 Street
Edmonton, AB T6J 1A4
403-436-5652
FAX: 403-437-0719



September 29, 1992



Attached for your information is a copy of a recent Edmonton Journal news story on the continuing Lubicon tragedy, a copy of a letter which Lubicon Chief Ominayak wrote to the Editor of the Edmonton Journal reacting to that news story, and a copy of the Edmonton Journal-edited version of the Chief's letter.


Attachment #1: August 17, 1992, Jack Danylchuk Edmonton Journal article



LOCAL MEN CAUGHT IN MIDDLE OF LUBICON FIGHT



Jack Danylchuk

Journal Staff Writer

Lubicon Lake



John McMillan was seven when he first rode into Lubicon Lake with his father, Archie, to deliver horses to Indians living in the dense bush 90 km east of Peace River.



The scene that greeted the McMillans more than 50 years ago wasn't much different when the Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review recently visited the former site of the band's main village.



The Lubicon moved 10 km west to Little Buffalo 30 years ago, but Edward Laboucan and his son, "Summer Joe", like to spend their summers at the old settlement site. They've pitched a heavy canvas tent at the edge of a large meadow, just a few steps from Lubicon Lake. An A-frame fashioned from poplar poles and tarpaulin shelters their open cooking fire.



"You see, it doesn't take very much to live," observes Norm Boucher as he and McMillan, the only Peace River residents on the commission, surveyed the camp.



After three poorly-attended hearings in Edmonton in June, the commission created last May by the NDP went to Little Buffalo and Peace River to see how the Lubicon live and fit into the economy and politics of northern Alberta.



The trip was an eye-opener for most of the commission, which draws its members from the ranks of the clergy, business, labor, law and education. But it was familiar ground for McMillan, an oil-field contractor, and Boucher, a logging company owner.



For as long as McMillan and Boucher have known the Lubicon, the band under Chief Bernard Ominayak has been seeking a land and cash settlement while getting by on $1 million a year from Ottawa. Depending on the person doing the counting, that works out to between $4,000 and $8,000 for each of the 250 to 500 band members.



In Little Buffalo, about 50 Lubicons crowded into the hot and stuffy community hall as the commission got its first look at the $73-million federal offer that Ominayak says contains "little that's new and falls far short of claims made for (it)."



The new offer includes $38.3 million for community construction, $12.5 million for socio-economic development, plus a $2.5 million signing incentive. In 1988, Ottawa offered $46.3 million -- $34.5 million for community construction, a $10.2 million socio-economic package, $500,000 for a social trust fund, claim-research costs of $1.8 million.



Most of the increase in the current offer comes from the Alberta government. It has promised $5 millino over five years, $1 million for a road, plus an offer identical to one made last year to the Woodland Cree who live just 15 km away: a $3 million vocational training centre.



But land is the largest single difference between the take-it-or-leave-it offer of 1988 and the proposal Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon presented to Ominayak on July 24.



No value was placed on the 240 sq. km land settlement that Ottawa, Alberta and the Lubicon agreed to in 1988. Now it carried a price tag of $10.5 million. Without it, the new offer would be worth $62.5 million.



"The $10.5 million shouldn't be there," says Father Jacques Johnson, co-chairman of the commission. "It's for land the Lubicon say is theirs and it makes the offer fictitious."



Siddon and Ominayak also disagree on how to account for inflation. The Lubicon chief said Siddon has underestimated its impact. The minister disagreed and offered to have an independent engineer estimate community construction costs.



But the real sticking point in negotiations promises to be over how many Lubicon remain with Ominayak since the formation of two new bands, the Woodland Cree and the Loon River Cree, 50 km east of Little Buffalo.



The federal offer is "tied to a populatin of 500 members", said Siddon, "The amount is not rigid. But it is not a blank cheque, it is based on the size of the community."



"There are other communities in the neighborhood. People may want to choose whether they adhere to Lubicon or some other community. To some extent it's up to the chief and the Lubicon as to whether they can encourage these people to join their community."



Some federal estimates say there are only 241 Lubicon with Ominayak today. The chief admits some wre lost to the two new bands, but not as many as Ottawa estimates, and says the birth rate has helped keep the numbers stable.



Four years ago, Ottawa accepted Ominayak's count. This time, the federal offer demands that before a settlement, "the band must provide Canada with a list of its members" which must then be jointly verified.



"It's a key issue," said Johnson. He has also asked for the band's membership list and was told by Ominayak that the request would be discusssed with elders and band councillors.



McMillan and Boucher feel caught in the middle.



Two years ago, sentiment against the Lubicon was increasing. McMillan confronted merchants. "I said if you don't want the Lubicon business, I'll tell Bernard and they will stay out of your store. They didn't want that."



The issue was Daishowa Canada's Peace River pulp mill, which has become a key part of the local economy. A boycott of Daishowa paper products is seen in Peace River as a threat to steady jobs.



That creates tension "in these tough economic times," said McMillan.



In 1988, the Lubicon wanted $70 million to develop an agricultural community based on buffalo ranching, plus a $100 million trust fund to be financed equally by Ottawa and Alberta.



"I think they should get it, all of it, based on what has gone out of their territory in oil and gas revenue," said McMillan, who believes that his view is shared by most longtime residents.



"The Lubicons aren't asking for anyone's tax dollars. If this thing had been settled, they would be getting that royalty money now."



Newcomers tend to differ, McMillan said.



Peace River Mayor Mike Procter, a possible successor to Al Adair as the provincial Tory standard bearer for northwestern Alberta, maintains that the Lubicon settlement must be in the context of others.



"It must be fair to bands that have already settled, fair to the Lubicon and fair to those who pay," Procter said after he appeared before the commission to slam the Daishowa boycott.


Attachment #2: August 19, 1992, letter to the Editor of the Edmonton Journal from Chief Bernard Ominayak



Dear Sir/Madam:



Jack Danylchuk's August 17th article on the Federal Government's so-called "new offer" to the Lubicons generally transmits Federal Government propaganda accurately. It fails, however, to accurately report on what that "offer" actually says.



Reflecting the line of Federal Government P.R. people Danylchuk sarcastically notes that in lieu of a settlement the Lubicons are "getting by on $1 million a year from Ottawa", which, he claims, "works out to between $4,000 and $8,000 for each of the 250 to 500 band members. It doesn't work out to any such thing. Danylchuk should have at least checked their numbers. It in fact works out to between $2,000 and $4,000 per person, mostly in subsistence welfare payments necessitated because multi-billion dollar resource exploitation activity on unceded Lubicon lands has destroyed the traditional Lubicon hunting and trapping economy.



Danylchuk says in 1988 the Federal Government "offered" the Lubicons $46.3 million. That's not true either. In fact the so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer to which Danylchuk refers was not made in 1988 but in January of 1989 and anybody who has read this so-called 1988 "offer" knows that the dollar value of it is impossible to determine because it consists of such typically slippery provisions as "The Department of Industry, Science and Technology will seek ministerial approval in principle for funding from the Native Economic Development Fund, up to a maximum of $4 million, provided that ($4 million in proposed Lubicon commercial development projects) meet normal program requirements".



Danylchuk says that the so-called "new offer" includes $12.5 million (1992 dollars) toward over $23 million (1988 dollars) in proposed Lubicon commercial and agricultural development proposals. Again that's not true. In fact anybody who has read the so-called new 1992 "offer" knows that this so-called "new offer" says that the Federal Government will provide $25,000 for each Lubicon whom the Federal Government somehow determines is "eligible" to be counted for making such a calculation; $12.5 million only if the Federal Government in the end agrees with the Lubicons that all 500 Lubicons are "entitled" (which Federal representatives have made clear they have no intention of doing); $7.5 million if in the end the Federal Government only agrees that 300 Lubicons are "entitled" and so on.



Danylchuk says that "Most of the (claimed $8.5 million dollar) increase in the current (new) offer comes from the Alberta Government", which he says "has promised $5 million over five years, $1 million for a road, plus an offer identical to the one made last year to the Woodland Cree who live just 15 km. away: a $3 million vocational training centre". None of this is true either. In fact when the impact of inflation is taken into account the so-called "new offer" represents an $8.7 million decrease over the previous offer rather than the claimed $8.5 million increase; the Province hasn't "promised $5 million over five years" but an un-indexed $5 million over a ten year period (worth an estimated $2.3 million in 1988 dollars); the road in question is not a Lubicon road at all but rather a Provincial Government road to be built by the Province in order to give the Province access to the shores and bed of Lubicon Lake (ala the Grimshaw Agreement); and the Province hasn't offered either the Woodlanders or the Lubicons a $3 million vocational training centre. (What the Province initially offered the Lubicons and then the Woodlanders was to set up an off-reserve academic up-grading trailer under normal Provincial Government programming for a five year period. The so-called new "offer" to the Lubicons says cryptically that "Options may exist to incorporate (the proposed community shop/vocational training centre) into the proposed (high) school design to enhance the usage of both facilities", presumably referring to a proposal from an unknown source -- not the Lubicons -- that the Province contribute up to a million dollars to add a typical industrial arts shop to the proposed Lubicon high school.)



Reporting on the Minister's understandably uneasy attempt to deflect easily supportable Lubicon charges that the so-called new "offer" represents a $8.7 million decrease instead of the claimed $8.5 million increase, Danylchuk advises his readers only that "the minister disagreed (with Lubicon inflation calculations) and offered to have an independent engineer estimate community construction costs". As a professional reporter Danylchuk should have checked the Minister's comments with the other side. In fact mutually agreed "independent cost assessors" have been at work since last April; the Federal Indian Affairs Minister has recently taken to referring to these "independent cost assessors" as "Lubicon consultants", and, in any case, the Federal Indian Affairs Minister has only agreed to accept the conclusions of the independent cost assessor with regard to Government determined "community construction" items -- basically the items contained in the 1988 so-called "offer".



Lastly Danylchuk finally gets something right when he describes the issue of membership as "the real sticking point". But then he messes up even that by again completely confusing transparent Government propaganda with the truth.



Danylchuk quotes Federal Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon as saying that "the (so-called new federal offer) is "tied to a (claimed Lubicon) population of 500 members", but, Danylchuk says, "some federal estimates say there are only 241 Lubicons (the rest supposedly having drifted off to join two other Bands recently created by the Federal Government as part of continuing Federal Government efforts to undermine and subvert Lubicon land rights). "Four years ago", Siddon/Danylchuk says, "Ottawa accepted (the Lubicon) count". "This time", Siddon/Danylchuk says, "the federal offer demands that the band must provide Canada with a list of its members which must then be jointly verified". In fact the real issue here is not how many Lubicons there are on the Lubicon membership list but who determines who is and isn't a full-fledged Lubicon. And anybody who has followed the Lubicon struggle at all knows that this issue isn't new but has been the main "sticking point" in achieving a settlement of Lubicon land rights since at least 1942.



After years of discussion and debate the membership issue was supposedly resolved in December of 1988 when Federal negotiators finally agreed that the Lubicons would be treated the same as other aboriginal societies who had negotiated a treaty with the Canadian Government; namely, all of the Lubicons on the Lubicon determined membership list would be "entitled" to adhere to the treaty; everybody who adhered to treaty would thereby become a treaty Indian and "entitled" to receive the benefits of both treaty status and any settlement agreement. Mr. Siddon has now gone back on this agreement and is again insisting on a provision which would enable the Federal Government to split Lubicon society into groups with different rights and responsibilities. This is only the latest version of the divide and conquer tactics which the Canadian Government has used historically to destroy aboriginal societies and the Lubicon people will never willingly agree to it no matter how or by whom it is publicly obscured or misrepresented.



Sincerely,



Bernard Ominayak, Chief, Lubicon Lake Indian Nation


Attachment #3: September 03, 1992, Edmonton Journal edited version of Chief Ominayak's August 19th letter



OFFER TO LUBICONS NOT AS REPORTED



Jack Danylchuk's Aug. 17th article on the Federal Government's so-called "new offer" to the Lubicons generally transmits Federal Government propaganda accurately, but fails to accurately report on what the "offer" actually says.



Reflecting the line of Federal Government public relations people, The Journal sarcastically notes that in lieu of a settlement, the Lubicons are "getting by on $1 million a year from Ottawa", which, it claims, "works out to $4,000 and $8,000 for each of the 250 to 500 band members.



It doesn't work out to any such thing. The Journal should have at least checked the numbers; it works out to $2,000 and $4,000 per person, mostly in subsistence welfare payments necessitated because multibillion-dollar resource exploitation activity on unceded Lubicon lands has destroyed the traditional Lubicon hunting and trapping economy.



The Journal says that in 1988 the Federal Government "offered" the Lubicons $46.3 million. That's not true. In fact the so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer referred to was made in January 1989, and the dollar value of it is impossible to determine because it consists of slippery provisions.



The Journal says that the so-called "new offer" includes $12.5 million for socio-economic developments only if the Federal Government agrees with the Lubicons that all 500 are "entitled" (which Federal representatives have made clear they have no intention of doing); and $7.5 million if Ottawa only agrees that 300 Lubicons are "entitled" and so on.



The Journal says that "Most of the increase in the current offer comes from the Alberta Government", which has promised $5 million over five years, $1 million for a road, plus an offer identical to the one made last year to the Woodland Cree who live just 15 km. away: a $3 million vocational training centre".



None of this is true. In fact when the impact of inflation is taken into account the so-called "new offer" represents an $8.7 million decrease over the previous offer.



The road in question is a Provincial Government road to give the Province access to the shores and bed of Lubicon Lake. And the Province hasn't offered either the Woodlanders or the Lubicons a $3 million vocational training centre.



The Journal quotes Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon as saying that "the (new federal offer) is 'tied to a population of 500 members'," but says, "some federal estimates say there are only 241 Lubicons" with Ominayak today. The real issue here is not how many Lubicons there are on the Lubicon membership list but who determines who is and isn't a full-fledged Lubicon.



After years of discussion, the membership issue was supposedly resolved in December of 1988 when Federal negotiators finally agreed that the Lubicons would be treated the same as other aboriginal societies which had negotiated a treaty with the Canadian Government, namely that all of the Lubicons on the Lubicon-determined membership list would be "entitled" to adhere to the treaty. Everybody who adhered to the treaty would thereby become a treaty Indian and "entitled" to receive the benefits of treaty status and of any settlement agreement.



Siddon has now gone back on this agreement and is again insisting on a provision which would enable the Federal Government to split the Lubicon society into groups with different rights and responsibilities.



Bernard Ominayak, Chief, Lubicon Lake Indian Nation