Alberta Native News: "Federal Expert Supports Claims"

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

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

November 22, 1992

Enclosed for your information is a newspaper article on recent hearings of the Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review.

Alberta Native News, November, 1992


by Dale Stelter

A former federal justice minister has spoken out strongly in support of the Lubicon Lake Indian Nation. E. Davie Fulton, who was a justice minister in the Diefenbaker government and is a former justice of the B.C. Supreme Court, also said that the Lubicons' request for $100-million in compensation is reasonable and not exaggerated.

Fulton made his statements while appearing before the Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review, on November 2nd in Edmonton. The non-partisan commission was set up earlier this year by the Alberta New Democrats.

The Lubicon have been involved in a decades-long land rights dispute. The federal government recently offered the Lubicon a settlement which it claims is worth about $73-million. The Lubicon rejected the federal offer, and are asking for about $170-million, an amount they say is necessary to rebuild their community and gain self-sufficiency, after the destruction of their traditional way of life by rampant oil and gas development. Both sides agree on a 246 square kilometre reserve.

Fulton had been appointed in 1985 by the federal government to study the Lubicon situation. He delivered a discussion paper about one year later, but the paper was shelved and no action taken on it. Fulton's report confirmed the position of the Lubicon that the oil and gas development had had serious consequences upon the band. The report also contained recommendations centering around allowing the Lubicon to regain control over their own lives.

While appearing before the Commission of Review, Fulton had many harsh words regarding the treatment of the Lubicon, and the "terribly procrastinated" settlement of their land rights dispute. He said that the situation faced by the Lubicon, and their increasing hardship, is appalling. He also said that he would be prepared to consider any request to help out in any way in bringing about a fair settlement.

The following day, the testimony of two independent cost assessors also lent support to the Lubicon. It was shown that in terms of the money needed for community, commercial, and agricultural construction, the proposals put forth by the Lubicon are low by a significant factor. The federal government has long said that the Lubicon are asking for too much money.

Also appearing before the commission was John Goddard, author of the highly-acclaimed book "Last Stand of the Lubicon Cree". Goddard spoke of some of the background and research that went into the writing of the book, and said that while he has been continually impressed by the initiative and resourcefulness of the Lubicon, it has been a painful experience watching the "incredible oppression that is really beyond my imagination".

Goddard also detailed many of the controversial tactics the federal government used in creating the Woodland Cree band. The creation of the Woodland Cree has been widely criticized as a "divide-and-conquer" maneuver, aimed at the Lubicon, on the part of the federal government.

Goddard said that the Commission of Review -- which is made up of a group of citizens -- can take the Lubicon issue out of the hands of politicians and bureaucrats, and offers hope for bringing about a fair and just settlement.