Responses to Form Letters From Siddon re Lubicon

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

December 12, 1992

Enclosed for your information is a copy of the latest form letter on the Lubicons being sent to people by Canadian Federal Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon, along with the replies of a couple of people who clearly know better.

Form letter being sent out by federal Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon to people writing the Prime Minister about the Lubicon Lake Indian Nation

Dear (Writer):

This is in response to your letter to the Prime Minister concerning the Lubicon Lake First Nation's land claim.

The Government of Canada recognizes a valid land claim by the Lubicon Lake First Nation and, throughout the mandate of the current government, has endeavoured to negotiate a just and generous resolution of that claim. Despite my predecessors' and my determined and best efforts, regrettably the claim remains unresolved.

In January 1989, Canada made the Lubicons a comprehensive offer to resolve their claim valued at $45 million. The offer was in addition to the 95 square miles of land the band had already agreed to accept from Premier Getty resolving the land issue between the Lubicons and the Crown. Canada's offer was rejected. It is interesting to note that, in response to a complaint by the Lubicons, the United Nations Human Rights Committee found that they had a valid claim but that Canada's 1989 offer was an "appropriate remedy" to that claim.

There were no formal negotiations on the Lubicon claim for almost two years until I initiated a meeting with Chief Ominayak in November 1991. The meeting was positive and further meetings between us were held over the last nine months culminating in a new federal offer which I gave to Chief Ominayak on July 24, 1992. The major elements of the new offer included the following:

I firmly believe the offer is both fair and generous and I am confident ongoing discussion will result in a final settlement.

In regard to your specific concern about the Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review established by Alberta NDP leader, Mr. Ray Martin, I can advise you that a copy of the new federal proposal has been made available to the Commission by my officials for its information. The new offer addresses all issues contained in the Lubicon's settlement proposal given to me by Chief Ominayak in November 1991. It would be inappropriate, however, for me to appear before the Commission as you suggest in your letter so long as negotiations are continuing with the band. I believe this claim can only be resolved through direct negotiations with the Lubicon Lake First Nation rather than in a public forum with a third party. Consequently, my efforts will continue to be devoted to direct negotiations with the First Nation.

I appreciate your writing about this complex and difficult social issue which I can assure you the government remains committed to resolving.

Yours sincerely,

Tom Siddon, P.C., M.P.

November 23, 1992, letter from Lubicon supporter Al Cox, Cos Cob, Connecticut, U.S.A., to Tom Siddon

Honorable Mr. Siddon:

Your Oct. 28, 1992 response to my letter of July 29, 1992, addressed to Prime Minster Brian Mulroney, has been received. You didn't really need to bother sending me the recapitulation of your continued propaganda that tries to convince the public that black is white; that your "best offer" is fair; that you bargain in "good faith"; that the UN Human Rights Committee let the Government of Canada off the hook; and that blame for the lack of a settlement rests with the Lubicon people, their Chief and his advisors!

For the past nine years I have relentlessly following the situation regarding the Lubicon land claim:

It is amazing to me that you have never chosen to reply substantially to the counter offer which the Lubicon Band laid before you. That offer would provide the base for economic development to replace the one that has been destroyed by oil, gas and logging developments on their unceded aboriginal lands. Your current offer is neither fair nor generous!

If this land claim were one of recent origin - similar to some recently-entered land claims in this country - there might be some room for debate. However, for the Canadian government to have acknowledged in 1939 that the Lubicon lands remained unceded aboriginal lands gives the lie to your current claims that the Lubicons have no right to the billions of dollars of resources which have been taken from their unceded aboriginal lands.

I weep over the destruction of Lubicon life and culture, and for those whose lives have been prematurely snuffed out by disease, accidents, and depression. Surely, there is both compassion and generosity somewhere in the Canadian governments. If not, at least there should be a commitment to justice - a commitment which is absent from all of your proposals for settlement. You would not be "giving" the Lubicons anything. What is rightfully theirs has already been taken from them!

I trust the Canadian Government can do a lot better than it has.

December 3, 1992, letter from Lubicon supporter John Hamer, Red Deer, Alberta, to Tom Siddon

Dear Mr. Siddon:

Thank you for your November 26 letter regarding the Lubicon Lake Indian Nation. I regret to say that nothing you wrote convinced me that the federal government intends to stop its ongoing violation of Lubicon human rights. Your reference to the Lubicon complaint to the United Nations Human Rights Committee makes that clear. To claim, as you do, that the Committee specifically referred to Canada's 1989 offer as an appropriate remedy is dishonest.

Committee officials themselves have interpreted the term "appropriate remedy" to be "deliberately vague wording so that both parties can interpret it in their own way and get back to the bargaining table". This was reported in the Globe and Mail and the Ottawa Citizen on May 4, 1990, and the Edmonton Journal on May 10. I would appreciate it if you would send me the portion of the UN report that points to Canada's 1989 offer as the "appropriate remedy".

It did not go unnoticed that after almost two years of the federal government's abandonment of its fiduciary responsibility for Lubicon concerns, your initiative to meet with Chief Ominayak coincided with the beginning of the Daishowa boycott and the Chief's mission to Japan. This gives the impression that if the Lubicons would only shuffle quietly away into oblivion, you'd be happy to let them. What were you doing for the missing two years while, according to the UN Human Rights Committee, Lubicon human rights continued to be violated under article 27, and still do, because, to quote the Committee, "historical inequities and more recent developments threaten the way of life and culture of the Lubicon people"?

Does the UN Human Rights Committee finding that the Lubicon people "cannot achieve effective legal redress within Canada" still stand? I would appreciate it if you would send me information showing that this situation has been rectified. If the Committee's finding still stands, then could you explain how binding arbitration to resolve the Lubicon claim to compensation against Canada will be conducted.

I am sorry to see that you are reluctant to appear before the Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review. As you know, the Lubicon struggle for fair treatment, and the federal government's attempts to deny it, have been public knowledge in Canada and around the world for quite some time. The longer this ugly state of affairs is allowed to continue, the more people become aware of it. What harm could there be in open discussion of a human rights issue which, for too long, Canada has attempted to cover up with a transparent and failed propaganda campaign?

This is not, as you describe it, a complex and difficult social issue. This is simply the theft of Lubicon land, resources and a crime against humanity. Please respond at your earliest convenience.