Letters to New Indian Affairs Minister

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

August 31, 1993

Attached for your information are copies of letters regarding the worsening plight of the Lubicons sent by Members of Parliament to the new Federal Indian Affairs Minister.

Attachment #1: July 07, 1993, letter to Federal Indian Affairs Minister Pauline Browes from Federal M.P. David Kilgour

Dear Ms. Browes:

Further to my letter of 22 March 1993 to the Hon. Pierre Vincent, I am deeply concerned with the situation of the Lubicon Cree in Northern Alberta. Fifty-four years ago the Lubicon were promised a reserve by the federal government. That promise has never been kept. In the meantime the Lubicons unceded, ancestral territory has been ravaged by unbridled government-backed resource development, their traditional way of life has been destroyed, and their community is disintegrating.

After speaking extensively with Lorraine Land, Chair of the Aboriginal Rights Coalition and Ed Bianchi, a representative of Friends of the Lubicon, I feel that this issue can no longer be ignored.

Enclosed is material pertaining to what has been mentioned above. In the indicated circumstances, I'd be grateful for your comments ASAP.

Thank you.

Sincerely, David Kilgour

Attachment #2: July 07, 1993, letter to Federal Indian Affairs Minister Pauline Browes from Federal M.P. Jesse Flis

Dear Pauline:

Please accept my sincere congratulations on the occasions of your recent appointment as Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, the first woman in Canadian history to hold this distinguished post.

As someone who is capable of breaking new ground, you now have the opportunity to address many long-standing issues which previous administrations have been unable to resolve. I would like to direct your particular attention to the serious situation facing the Lubicon Lake Nation in northern Alberta. This is a small nation of only five hundred, but their condition has been allowed to deteriorate from a proudly independent and self-sustaining community to an environment aggravated by self-destruction and alcoholism.

It seems the more I learn about the situation, the more anger and frustration I tend to encounter from both supporters of the Lubicon, and from the government. As Minister, you inherit fifty years of failed attempts to negotiate a Lubicon reserve settlement. The real issues are now lost in a cloud of suspicion, and blame is now pitched back and forth between both levels of government, developers, and eventually back to the Lubicon people. It is obvious to any outsider that no resolution is possible under these circumstances.

There is no simple solution to the dilemma, and I do not profess to hold some kind of magic formula. My purpose, however, is to offer some advice and perhaps some encouragement.

I am sure that you will agree that enough time and money has been spent on study and review already and, therefore, the next order of business should be your list of options. My first priority would be to break the deadlock existing between the Lubicons and the federal government since 1989. Your predecessor, the Hon. Tom Siddon, kindly provided a copy of his letter addressed to one of my constituents, Mr. Stephen Kenda (dated November 26, 1992), which outlined the federal government's position. As the new Minister, you may choose to defend this position, but I would seek alternatives. After all, opportunities do arise with a change of administration.

Next, I would consult the Final Report produced by the independent Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review (released in March 1993). The final report contains a list of recommendations, including provisions for third party arbitration if necessary. When Canadians do not see eye-to-eye on certain issues, we are fortunate to rely on our national tradition of mediation and compromise.

If I may impart one last piece of advice, please do not listen to those who fear the political consequences of a just and fair settlement. Canadians do not expect the federal government to sacrifice their future rights, or give up a fair share to the land or its precious resources. The same principle applies to the Lubicons. No one expects them to sacrifice their rights, their children's future or their entitlement to the land which sustained their ancestors. Somewhere in between lies the answer, and it is now within your power to end the acrimony, and permit the Lubicons the opportunity to get back on their feet.

Yours sincerely, Jesse Flis, M.P.

Attachment #e: July 26, 1993, letter to Federal Indian Affairs Minister Pauline Browes from Federal M.P. Stan Keyes

Dear Minister:

I am writing in regard to the ongoing Lubicon land settlement dispute.

This land claim is not a partisan issue. In fact, the settlement dispute has become one of international human rights. After more than fifty years, the Lubicon continue in their struggle for aboriginal land rights and in their belief to secure a permanent land base. The Lubicon have waited too many years to have their settlement delayed any further.

Accordingly, I call upon you as Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs to take appropriate action. A prompt resolution of outstanding land claims is imperative. In this regard, the Lubicon Land Claim should be viewed as a priority.

Sincerely, Stan Keyes, M.P.