Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
Little Buffalo Lake, AB
3536 - 106 Street
Edmonton, AB T6J 1A4
June 01, 1993
On April 26, 1993 Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak received a telephone call from the office of new Alberta Native Affairs Minister Mike Cardinal requesting a meeting for Mr. Cardinal with the Chief. In context Mr. Cardinal was clearly responding to a variety of pressures to do something about the Lubicon situation resulting from the Daishowa boycott, Lubicon Settlement Commission recommendations, a pending, closely contested Provincial Government election and several hard-hitting newspaper columns by a persistent Edmonton writer and broadcaster named Fil Fraser who was aggressively criticizing Mr. Cardinal for failure to follow-up on a public commitment made by Mr. Cardinal a month earlier to meet with the Chief. A meeting between Mr. Cardinal and the Chief was agreed for the following day.
The April 27th meeting between the Minister and the Chief was very positive and business-like, with Mr. Cardinal purposefully creating the distinct impression that he had consulted new Alberta Provincial Premier Ralph Klein beforehand. In fact it's hard to imagine Mr. Cardinal saying the things he did during the meeting without first consulting Mr. Klein.
Mr. Cardinal told the Chief "This (Klein Government) is a new Government". He said "We're prepared to look at Lubicon requirements". He asked "What have we got to do to settle?"
Mr. Cardinal and the Chief discussed the commitments made to the Lubicons earlier by former Provincial Premier Don Getty. Mr. Cardinal told the Chief that the Alberta Provincial Government is prepared to honour Mr. Getty's previous commitments to the Lubicons. And, Mr. Cardinal said, he was personally prepared to work on anything else required to achieve a settlement of Lubicon land rights.
Mr Cardinal and the Chief also discussed Lubicon settlement proposals which Mr. Cardinal described as "reasonable" -- including the Lubicon position on financial compensation. He said that he was prepared "to work on (a Provincial Government contribution to) compensation for ruining the lifestyle of a people" in an amount known to be acceptable to the Lubicons. He said that he was confident that he could convince his Cabinet colleagues to approve what's necessary to achieve a settlement of Lubicon land rights. Obviously referring to the pending Provincial Government election Mr. Cardinal said "If it doesn't work we've got to solve it or we won't be governing".
Mr. Cardinal asked the Chief for a letter itemizing Premier Getty's previous commitments and also specifying what else would be required to achieve a full settlement of Lubicon land rights. The Chief faxed Mr. Cardinal the requested letter that same evening.
The Chief was out of the country the next week meeting with members of the European Parliament about an EP resolution supporting the recommendations of the Lubicon Settlement Commission. He hoped to hear back from Mr. Cardinal upon his return to Alberta the following week but heard nothing.
On May 18th a Provincial Government election was called for June 15th. During a talk show on May 19th Alberta Premier Ralph Klein responded as follows to a caller criticizing Mr. Cardinal's lack of follow-up on the April 27th meeting:
"...I don't know the details of Mike Cardinal's meeting with Bernard Ominayak. But I know that Mike is a very caring, sensitive individual who happens to come from that region of the Province, is a treaty Indian, is a Minister of the Crown, is responsible for Native Affairs. And I would assume that whatever Mike is doing, that he's doing it in the best interests of his Ministry, his responsibilities and in the best interests of the Lubicons. It may not be satisfactory to the caller -- who by the way has called me about three or four times on other shows on this particular issue and we have agreed to disagree on practically everything, including, by the way -- and I'm going to get this off my chest -- the absolutely dishonest network of propaganda that went around the world relative to the Lubicon issue as it related to the (1988) Olympic Games and that phenomenal show called "The Spirit Sings". When there were actual press releases out of Edmonton, out of Edmonton, from the consultant to the Lubicons, who talked about genocide, who talked about the destruction of herds of grizzly bears. Now has anybody ever heard of a herd of grizzly bears? Press releases that left the impression that the Lubicon Nation was right at the edge of the City of Calgary, was right on the borders of the City of Calgary. So much so was this information false and misleading that I had to travel with a Siksika, a Blackfoot friend of mine -- Adrian Stimson -- to many European cities to hold news conferences to say, "Look it, these are the facts"."
(Needless to say no Lubicon "press releases out of Edmonton" or any place else ever talked about "herds of grizzly bears". Moreover Ralph Klein's European junket on behalf of the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics was a PR disaster, with Mr. Klein's muppet-like charm and ready quips -- which inexplicably seem to work so well in Alberta -- generally failing to amuse the more fact and issue-oriented Europeans. Lubicon mail-outs on a Provincial Government proposal to shoot grizzly bears at a key Olympic site, the undoubted origin of Mr. Klein's ridiculous "herds of grizzly bears" charge, are attached for your information, as are copies of a couple of selected newspaper articles on Mr. Klein's fractious press conferences in Europe.)
The next day, May 20th, and partly out of concern over Premier Klein's apparent lack of knowledge about what had been discussed during the April 27th meeting, Chief Ominayak asked Lubicon advisor Fred Lennarson to phone Mr. Cardinal's office and inquire as to when Mr. Cardinal would be responding to the letter which Mr. Cardinal requested and received from the Chief on April 27th. Mr. Lennarson was told that Mr. Cardinal was out campaigning but would be checking in by phone, that he would be asked when he phoned about the status of Chief Ominayak's April 27th letter and that Mr. Lennarson would receive a call back later that same day.
Not hearing anything back that same day Mr. Lennarson phoned Mr. Cardinal's office again the following day, Friday, May 21st. He was told that Mr. Cardinal had discussed the status of Chief Ominayak's April 27th letter with his Assistant Tom Ghostkeeper but that Mr. Ghostkeeper was taking "a holiday day" and consequently wasn't available to report on what Mr. Cardinal had said. The person answering the phone in Mr. Cardinal's Ministerial office at the Provincial Legislature in Edmonton, a woman named Pam, promised to check on the status of Chief Ominayak's April 27th letter and get back to Mr. Lennarson either later that same day or early the following week.
The following Wednesday, May 26th, Pam phoned and advised that Mr. Cardinal had sent the Chief a letter the day before supposedly responding to the letter which Mr. Cardinal had requested and received from the Chief on April 27th.
On May 31st, over a month after having received the Chief's April 27th letter, the Chief received a letter from Mr. Cardinal "confirm(ing) that the Government of Alberta is prepared to honour the terms of the accord reached at Grimshaw regarding the establishment of a 95 square mile reserve", indicating that "there is some question as to the exact nature of past discussions (with former Premier Getty) regarding other matters" but that Mr. Cardinal is "prepared to explore any proposals which, within reasonable cost, would assist the Lubicon people in regaining self-sufficiency", and proposing, "as the next step, (that Mr. Cardinal would) meet with the Honourable (sic) Tom Siddon in order to determine whether there is any room for similar flexibility on the part of the federal government".
No steely-eyed political axioms here about what happens to politicians who fail to solve problems, no more reassuring talk about the "reasonableness" of Lubicon settlement proposals, no mention at all of a significant Provincial Government contribution to financial compensation -- only a hideously transparent feint in the direction of the Lubicons sufficient to enable Klein, Cardinal and Co. to tell critics that they're doing something about the continuing Lubicon tragedy when in fact they're doing nothing but contributing to growing Lubicon problems. The political axiom really involved on Mr. Cardinal's part, it seems clear, is not that politicians who don't solve problems won't be governing, but that politicians who don't deceive the electorate by creating the illusion of solving problems won't be governing.
It's unlikely in the extreme that Mr. Cardinal is contemplating a meeting with Mr. Siddon before the June 15th Provincial election. What happens following the Provincial election is anybody's guess, but it's not very likely that settlement of Lubicon land rights will suddenly take on hitherto non-existent priority in a re-elected Klein Government -- if in fact the Klein Government is re-elected.
As for Mr. Cardinal "meeting with the Honourable (sic) Tom Siddon to determine whether there is any room for similar flexibility on the part of the (current) federal government", Mr. Cardinal has to be kidding. Aside from demonstrably sharing with the Province the obvious objective of trying to deflect criticism by seeking to create an illusion that something positive is being done, when in fact the opposite is the case, the Federal Government's position on the Lubicon situation is well known to anyone who has paid any attention at all. To quote one of the lawyers hired by the Federal Government to create the Woodland and Loon River Bands -- a Calgary lawyer by the name of Ward Mallabone -- the Federal Government's objective in all of this is purely and simply the "elimination" of the Lubicon people.
As for Mr. Cardinal's stated willingness "to explore any proposals which, within reasonable cost, would assist the Lubicon people in regaining self-sufficiency", it's frankly very hard to take Mr. Cardinal either at his word or very seriously.
Lubicon proposals for "regaining self-sufficiency" were previously "explored" for nearly a year with Provincial Government negotiators who now report to Mr. Cardinal. There can be no doubt that these Provincial Government negotiators know Lubicon proposals for "regaining self-sufficiency" backwards, forwards, upside down and inside out. So what's left to explore? Moreover, as part of this process former Alberta Provincial Premier Don Getty personally reviewed Federal settlement proposals and publicly agreed that Federal settlement proposals are "deficient" in the area of the Lubicons "regaining self-sufficiency" -- and that Lubicon proposals for "regaining self-sufficiency" are basically reasonable.
Before being "explored" for nearly a year by Provincial Government negotiators, Lubicon proposals for "regaining self-sufficiency" were explored for nearly a year by Federal Inquiry Officer E. Davie Fulton -- who also concluded that Federal settlement proposals would not allow the Lubicon people to "regain self-sufficiency" and that Lubicon proposals for "regaining self-sufficiency" are basically reasonable.
Most recently Lubicon proposals for "regaining self-sufficiency" have been "explored" for yet another year by an independent Lubicon Settlement Commission which also found Federal settlement proposals for "regaining self-sufficiency" to be inadequate and Lubicon proposals to be basically reasonable.
Mr. Getty's conclusion about the "deficiency" of Federal settlement proposals in the area of the Lubicons "regaining self-sufficiency" is a matter of public record. His proposals to remedy that "deficiency" -- basically consistent with Lubicon proposals for "regaining self-sufficiency" -- are largely in writing and available.
Mr. Fulton's conclusions are also in writing and available, as are the conclusions and recommendations of the Lubicon Settlement Commission.
Lubicon proposals for "regaining self-sufficiency" have thus been "explored" ad infinitum while the Lubicons have continued going down the drain -- a fact which is of course not lost on those who propose to continue "exploring" Lubicon proposals for "regaining self-sufficiency" until the whole question of the Lubicons "regaining self-sufficiency" is effectively rendered moot by the final extinction of the Lubicon society as a functioning, definable, independent aboriginal society.
Obviously what's required at this point is not further endless "exploration" of Lubicon proposals for "regaining self-sufficiency" but decision, action and settlement of Lubicon land rights -- something which Mr. Cardinal seemed to appreciate during the meeting on April 27th but which is certainly not reflected in the lackadaisical timing or vacuity of his May 25th letter.
Attachment #1: April 27, 1993, letter from Chief Ominayak to Mike Cardinal
The Hon. Mike Cardinal
Minister responsible for Native Programs
Edmonton, AB T5K 2B6
Dear Mr. Cardinal:
As per our discussion this morning the Lubicon people understand that the Province of Alberta is prepared to honour Premier Getty's earlier commitments to the Lubicon Lake Nation, and that you personally are prepared to work with the Lubicon people and your Cabinet colleagues to achieve a mutually acceptable resolution of Lubicon land rights. The Lubicon people welcome your initiative and look forward to working with you and your Cabinet colleagues to achieve a satisfactory resolution of this long-outstanding injustice.
In addition to implementing the provisions of the Grimshaw Accord with regard to establishment of a 95 square mile Lubicon reserve, Premier Getty's other offers were basically designed to bridge the gaps in Federal settlement offers. The Lubicon people continue to consider this a workable approach, assuming that the Federal Government is prepared to honour the commitment made by Mr. Siddon in Little Buffalo Lake last June 5th to use the cost estimates provided by the independent cost assessor, jointly commissioned by the Federal Government and the Lubicon Lake Nation, with regard to basic community facilities, community infrastructure and residential housing.
Basic community facilities and infrastructure which remain outstanding, and which will have to be covered for there to be a settlement, include an old people's home, a community recreation centre, a community hall, a natural gas utility, a community satellite dish and transmitter, a community refuse incinerator, four 48 passenger school buses, a public works storage building and a combination fire hall, police station, lock-up and court house. The Province may be able to help with some of these outstanding items, as in the case of the police station, lock-up and court house -- which the Federal Government argues should be a shared Federal/Provincial responsibility anyway -- and in the case of the natural gas utility, where the Province previously had a subsidy program for rural communities -- both on and off-reserve -- which has now been "frozen".
Premier Getty's other commitments to the Lubicon people were:
Should you need anything further or have any questions you can reach me at 629-3745 or Fred Lennarson at 436-5652.
Attachment #2: THE EDMONTON JOURNAL, Wednesday, May 19, 1993 (not attached in the electronic version)
Attachment #3: Excerpt from CBC Wild Rose Forum (1:00 P.M.) Wednesday, May 19, 1993
John Hanlon, CBC Wild Rose Forum, with Guest Alberta Premier Ralph Klein
Red Deer resident John Hamer: I wouldn't vote for Ralph. I think if Ralph is in then human rights are out in this province. I'm referring to the Lubicon issue. I see that Mike Cardinal was on television talking to Fil Fraser saying that he was willing to meet with the Lubicons. A month went by. Nothing happened. The only time that Mike got off his duff to do anything was when Fil Fraser wrote a column in the Edmonton Journal. The following day Mike was out there talking to the Lubicons. And then, of course, since then there's been nothing else. I'm just wondering if Ralph has any problems with the U.N. Human Rights Commission coming to Alberta to settle this problem.
Premier Ralph Klein: If there is a way, or an organization, or a group wanting to make a proposal to settle the Lubicon problem -- which is not entirely an Alberta problem but it is to some degree, of course, a federal problem -- then I would welcome it. And I would welcome the opportunity to talk once again with Bernard. I haven't spoken to him, nor has he requested to speak to me, since the Olympic Games in Calgary in 1988 when they had the boycott of "The Spirit Sings".
Hamer: I see. Do you have any control over your ministers? I'm wondering why Mike Cardinal would be stonewalling this issue.
Klein: Well, I don't know if he's stonewalling it or not. But I don't think he is. Mike is a treaty Indian himself. Why would he want to stonewall the issue?
Hamer: Because he's a Conservative, maybe?
Klein: Oh my God, I think that that is a terrible, terrible thing to say.
Hamer: Oh it is?
Klein: Yes, it is. Absolutely. Look, I have as much compassion, more compassion, for Native people. You know, I speak a bit of the Blackfoot language. I'm a member of the Siksika Brotherhood. I participate in Native healing ceremonies and prayer ceremonies...
Klein: Now just a moment. I'm a Conservative and don't tell me because I'm a Conservative I don't have feelings. That is a terrible thing to say.
Hamer: Oh, Ralph, don't grandstand.
Klein: That is -- I'm not grandstanding.
Hamer: You are.
Klein: What you have said is almost racist.
Hamer: Oh my goodness, Ralph, my heart bleeds for you. And I'm not a Liberal.
Klein: My heart bleeds for you, too.
Hamer: I'm not a Liberal, Ralph. But I'd like to know...
Klein: No, you obviously aren't.
Hamer: ...if you're so concerned...
Klein: What are you then?
Hamer: ...if you're so concerned, Ralph, why didn't you get together with Mike Cardinal and tell him to get on to the issue instead of allowing him to stonewall and fool around with the issue? This is an important human rights issue.
Klein: Of course.
Hamer: This is a world-wide human rights issue...
John Hanlon, CBC: Hasn't this been going on for a long time?
Klein: It's been going on for a long time. Absolutely. And I'll follow this up with Mike. But I simply don't buy this guy's claptrap. I really don't.
Hamer: Thank you. Thank you, Ralph. That's very Premier-like of you.
Klein: Well, it was very, very uncouth of you to come across the way you did.
Hamer: Thank you, Ralph.
Hanlon: Thank you very much for the call, Red Deer. Mr. Klein, just briefly, when do you think we're going to see this wrapped up to everybody's satisfaction?
Klein: As I said to the caller, I'm willing to sit down with Bernard Ominayak at any time. Bernard hasn't asked me for a meeting. I don't know the details of Mike Cardinal's meeting with Bernard Ominayak. But I know that Mike is a very caring, sensitive individual who happens to come from that region of the province, is a treaty Indian, is a Minister of the Crown, is responsible for Native Affairs. And I would assume that whatever Mike is doing that he's doing in the best interests of his ministry, his responsibilities and in the best interests of the Lubicons. It may not be satisfactory to the caller -- who by the way has called me about 3 or 4 other times on other shows on this particular issue and we have agreed to disagree on practically everything, including, by the way -- and I'm going to get this off my chest -- the absolutely dishonest network of propaganda that went around the world relative to the Lubicon issue as it related to the Olympic Games and that phenomenal show called "The Spirit Sings". When there were actual press releases out of Edmonton, out of Edmonton, from the consultant of the Lubicons, who talked about genocide, who talked about the destruction of herds of grizzly bears. Now has anybody ever heard of a herd of grizzly bears? Press releases that left the impression that the Lubicon Nation was right at the edge of the City of Calgary, was right on the borders of the City of Calgary. So much so was this information false and misleading that I had to travel with a Siksika, a Blackfoot friend of mine -- Adrian Stimson -- to many European cities to hold news conferences to say, "Look it, these are the facts."
Attachment #4: Series of articles distributed in 1986 on the Calgary Winter Olympics and killing off of grizzly bears (not attached in the electronic version)
Attachment #5: A couple of articles distributed in 1987 on Klein's European tour (not attached in the electronic version)
Attachment #6: May 1993 ALBERTA NATIVE NEWS article
LUBICON CHIEF MEETS WITH EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
By Dale Stelter
Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak and Lubicon band adviser Fred Lennarson recently returned from a trip to Europe that saw them meet with members of the European Parliament, and representatives of the government of Holland.
In meeting with the members of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, Chief Ominayak and Lennarson discussed the situation faced by the Lubicon, who have been trying for over 50 years to get a settlement of their land rights dispute. The recently-released report of the Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review, an independent citizens' panel that urged a rapid settlement of the Lubicons' land rights dispute, was also discussed.
There is currently a resolution before the European Parliament in support of the recommendations of the Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review's report. There is a similar resolution before the parliament of the Austrian government, and people in Holland are working on one to go before the Dutch government.
While in Holland, Chief Ominayak and Lennarson met with members of the Green Party, representatives of the Dutch human rights commission, and members of the Dutch foreign office (the equivalent of, for example, Canada's Department of External Affairs).
Fred Lennarson said that in the meetings with the Dutch foreign office and the European Parliament, he and Chief Ominayak had to counter disinformation given out about the Lubicon situation by an official with the Canadian Department of Indian Affairs, who had previously been in Europe.
The nine-day Lubicon trip was hosted by a Dutch group called Nanai, an organization of people concerned with the survival of indigenous peoples. Chief Ominayak and Lennarson also met with other indigenous support groups, and made some public education presentations.
In related news, Alberta's Native Affairs Minister, Mike Cardinal, met with Chief Ominayak before the European trip. Cardinal asked Chief Ominayak to identify gaps in the federal government's settlement offer to the Lubicons, plus commitments made to the Lubicon by former premier Don Getty, which the provincial government will support.
The meeting took place in the Lubicon community of Little Buffalo Lake, and was also attended by Pearl Calahasen, a Native Progressive Conservative MLA who,if successful in the upcoming election, would represent the Lubicon due to the restructured riding boundaries.
Chief Ominayak fulfilled Cardinal's requests in writing, and the Lubicon are now waiting to hear back from the minister.
Attachment #7: May 25, 1993, letter from Mike Cardinal to Chief Ominayak
Dear Chief Ominayak:
I would like to thank you, your Council and the elders for meeting with me on April 27, 1993, in Little Buffalo. As I indicated to you during our meeting, I am prepared to work with the Lubicon people in attempting to achieve a fair and reasonable settlement of the Lubicon land claim.
In reply to your letter of the same date, I would confirm that the Government of Alberta is prepared to honour the terms of the Accord reached at Grimshaw regarding the establishment of a 95 square mile Reserve for the use and benefit of the Lubicon people. While there is some question as to the exact nature of past discussions regarding other matters, I would assure you that I am prepared to explore any proposals which, within reasonable cost, would assist the Lubicon people in regaining self-sufficiency.
In this regard, I intend, as the next step, to meet with the Honourable Tom Siddon in order to determine whether there is any room for similar flexibility on the part of the federal government.
Yours truly, Mike Cardinal, Minister, M.L.A., Athabasca/Lac La Biche
Attachment #8: Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (5:30 P.M.) Tuesday, June 01, 1993
Alberta's Minister of Social Services says he wants to meet with the federal Minister of Indian Affairs to help settle the Lubicon Indians' land claim. Mike Cardinal made the promise last week in a letter to the Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak. About a month ago, Cardinal travelled to Little Buffalo in northwestern Alberta to meet with Ominayak and Lubicon Elders. The Lubicons are skeptical about Cardinal's intentions. A Band advisor says provincial officials often talk about meeting with the federal Minister but nothing ever comes of it. Fred Lennarson says Cardinal seems to be "backtracking" on pledges he made during the meeting. He says these included compensation, and discussing the issue with Provincial Cabinet. The Lubicons have been involved in a dispute over land ownership with government authorities for more than 50 years.