Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
Little Buffalo Lake, Alberta
3536 - 106 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T6J 1A4
January 31, 1995
Canadian singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn was recently the first recipient of the Global Visions Festival Artist Award for
"demonstrating a long-term dedication to creating a vision of a more just world".
Enclosed for your information are copies of related newspaper articles, a copy of the statement made at the awards ceremony on behalf of the Lubicons and a copy of the statement made by Bruce Cockburn.
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Friday, January 27, 1995
I'm sorry I can't be here tonight personally but I want to congratulate you on receiving the first annual Global Visions Artist award. It's an honour you've earned and one you deserve.
Last year Maureen Littlejohn wrote in Network Magazine that part of the reason for your enduring career is your ability to infuse your "music with a conscience -- an inherent sense of what (you) believe to be right and wrong". You not only influence others through your music but you raise the profile of social and environmental issues through your interviews and your appeal to your listeners to get involved.
Your long-term commitment to Aboriginal issues, both through your music and your actions, is well-known. What may not be as well- known is the effect your commitment has on others.
As a small society surrounded by powerful, unprincipled enemies it's easy to feel isolated and alone. In addition to the impact your message has on others your continuing support sends an important message to the Lubicon people that we're not alone -- that there are people in the outside world who care what happens to us.
The Lubicon people, therefore, want to thank you for your concern, your support and your friendship.
We are pleased to offer you this Dreamcatcher as a symbol of our common dream for a more just world.
(Sharon Venne to elaborate in a couple of sentences the symbolism of the Dreamcatcher.)
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January 27, 1995
When you look at the broad issue of justice for Indigenous Peoples, the picture is so large that it's hard to take it all in. Even when you narrow the focus to North America that's true. It's useful therefore to look for paradigms. Sadly, there is no situation which captures in microcosm the elements of the Native struggle better than that of the Lubicon Cree.
Colonialism, the paternalism of 19th century European thinking, the rush to settle and "civilize"; have given way to cynical buck-passing by Federal and Provincial Governments, to the playing off by unscrupulous industrialists of northern non-Native and Native communities against each other, even wedges driven into the Native community itself. It's hard to be a government person working for the transnationals of today, in this country. Recalcitrant Natives are sitting on valuable resources (in effect, on your opportunity for advancement). You don't want to pay them a fair price and you can't just kill `em like they do in some Asian and Latin American nations. They can read and write and use computers so you can't screw them with phoney legalities like in the old days. So what to do? It's a challenge to the ingenuity of the exploiter.
Of course, Canada, Alberta, Unocal and Daishowa can afford to buy LOTS of ingenuity.
I submit that those of us who care about such things as honour, justice and compassion have to keep the pressure on these folks until they are forced to exhaust themselves hunting for the next move.
You can find a version of this scenario in almost every part of North America -- though few are as urgent as the one the Lubicons find themselves in. Some of us have used the phrase "Brazil of the North" with reference to Alberta, and it's all too applicable. When I look at the Lubicon, I see what could be the "Nicaragua of the North" and I'm afraid, and I'm outraged, and I want to fix this, and I hope you folks who have a heart and a conscience will stand up and make it happen.