Chief Ominayak's Letter to EASTERN DOOR Editor

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

April 29, 1993

Mr. Kenneth Deer
The Eastern Door
P.O. Box 326
Kahnawake, Quebec JOL 1BO

Dear Sir:

The Lubicon people followed Dan Goodleaf's recent European junket with interest, especially his carefully calculated and programmed comments about the Lubicon situation. While he expressed concern several places that his performance as Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs might be judged differently because he is an aboriginal person, he needn't worry. Skin colour aside, his performance on the record was indistinguishable from that of his equally disingenuous non-aboriginal predecessors.

Judging from the people with whom he met in Europe and what he told them, Mr. Goodleaf apparently travelled across Europe primarily on behalf of the Canadian forest industry -- a highly unusual and inappropriate assignment for a supposedly non-political Canadian civil servant. The primary purpose of his trip seems to have been to try and counter growing international criticism of the Canadian forest industry, a fair amount of which stems directly from the growing threat being increasingly posed to aboriginal people and aboriginal rights in Canada by the Canadian forest industry. (Presumably Mr. Goodleaf was selected for this important mission specifically because of his skin colour, since, as he admitted to people during his European travels, he has no particular background or expertise in the forestry industry.)

Mr. Goodleaf's main message to Europeans, in the words of a speech he made on March 30th to the Institute for International Relations in Brussels, seems to have been:

"Let me assure you. If Canada's forest industry suffers, there will be one group hurt more than any other. It won't be Governments or corporations. It will be aboriginal families, aboriginal business, aboriginal communities".

In this last regard Mr. Goodleaf may know better than aboriginal people do themselves about what threatens their rights and way of life, but there is no doubt that aboriginal people -- from the Innu of Labrador to the Haida of the Queen Charlottes -- strongly disagree with him, strongly disagree with the Government he represents and strongly disagree with the Canadian forest industry. Aboriginal leaders from one end of the country to the other have repeatedly made clear that they see the Canadian forest industry as one of the major threats to their rights and way of life -- if not the major threat.

Specifically regarding the Lubicon situation Mr. Goodleaf said a number of things -- none of them even remotely close to the truth. On this basis alone Mr. Goodleaf should rest reassured that his performance is neither different nor being judged differently, certainly not by the Lubicon people, than was the equally disingenuous performance of his non-aboriginal predecessors.

Mr. Goodleaf repeated across Europe the Federal Government's demonstrably false claim that "on a per capita basis" the Federal Government's so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer to the Lubicons is the "richest" offer made to any First Nation in Canada.

Mr. Goodleaf repeated across Europe the demonstrably false Federal Government claim that the Federal Government is using the Fulton Discussion Paper as the "basis" for negotiations with the Lubicons.

Mr. Goodleaf repeated across Europe the demonstrably false Federal Government claim that there are continuing negotiations between the Federal Government and the Lubicon Lake Nation.

Mr. Goodleaf repeated with pride across Europe the highly deceptive Federal Government claim that the Federal Government has "courageously agreed to binding arbitration on the important issue of financial compensation". (He failed to mention that what he was talking about was a several months old Federal Government proposal which had been rejected by the Lubicons because it would have required us to cede the aboriginal rights upon which such compensation is primarily based before arbitrating the compensation issue, and because any award of compensation under this Federal proposal could have been appealed to the Canadian Courts and "set aside" if found to be "in conflict" with Canadian law or "public policy" -- which is of course only a slightly disguised version of the historic Federal Government position that the Lubicon people should go to the Canadian Courts if we think we have any compensation coming, only worse, since it would string out the deliberately interminable Canadian legal process even longer without even pretending to address the obvious inequity of having the Canadian Courts decide the compensation question -- as distinct for example from having the Lubicon Courts decide the question -- plus it would add the highly general and arbitrary catch-all of Canadian "public policy" as a criteria for "setting aside" any possible compensation award.)

Mr. Goodleaf repeated across Europe the demonstrably false Federal Government claim that "the UN Human Rights Committee found the (take-it-or-leave-it) offer made by Canada was reasonable and would meet any obligation Canada has under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights" (in fact the Committee held Canada to be in continuing violation of the Covenant until the matter is resolved).

Mr. Goodleaf repeated across Europe in mealy-mouthed but unmistakable terms the demonstrably false Federal Government charge that the Lubicon people and our supporters are basically liars in our description of the Lubicon situation.

And, incredibly, in artful but again unmistakable terms Mr. Goodleaf claimed falsely that "there is no development activity occurring" in the entire unceded Lubicon territory. (He went so far with this last preposterous claim as to insist upon it with people who have visited the Lubicon territory and absolutely know better -- suggesting to them that they'd better go back to Lubicon territory and again check their facts.)

No, Mr. Goodleaf, after your performance in Europe we don't think that you need worry about people judging you differently than your equally disingenuous non-aboriginal predecessors -- whatever your skin colour. Who and what you are is painfully, inescapably obvious.


Chief Bernard Ominayak

Lubicon Lake Indian Nation