Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
Little Buffalo Lake, AB
3536 - 106 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T6J 1A4
March 30, 1995
Most recently natural gas has become valuable as the "fuel of choice" for the huge U.S. utilities and the Lubicons consequently face yet another assault on their lands, their resources, their rights and their society. Natural gas processing facilities are being proposed all over the Lubicon territory -- including very worrisome "sour gas" plants designed to remove lethal hydrogen sulphide from natural gas so as to make it commercially viable. At best these sour gas plants produce sulphur dioxide emissions which are associated with serious health problems wherever such plants are located. At worst accidental release of hydrogen sulphide by these plants can kill instantly.
On February 23 the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board -- the regulatory agency considering Unocal's sour gas plant -- announced that they'd decided to approve it. The Provincially-appointed Board of the Provincially-created and funded regulatory agency not surprisingly found that they have "full statutory authority (under Provincial law) to regulate energy related activities on this disputed land, and hold the view that the mineral and land surface leases were properly obtained by Unocal from the (Provincial) Crown".
The clear message to the Lubicons by both levels of Canadian government and their resource exploitation company cronies is you have no rights to your traditional territory and we'll do to you what we please whether you like it or not. Under such circumstances domestic redress has truly been exhausted and it's up to the international community to prevent the final extinction of this small embattled indigenous society.
The School Sisters of St. Francis are shareholders in Unocal of California, the parent company of Unocal Canada. Unocal's Annual General Meeting is scheduled for May 22, 1995, in Houston, Texas. The School Sisters of St. Francis have filed a shareholders resolution on the Unocal sour gas plant built in Lubicon territory which will be discussed at that AGM. People are asked to send letters opposing Unocal's sour gas plant to:
Sister Laurie Michalowski, SSSF
Chair, SSSF Corporate Responsibility Committee
4127 N. Central Park
Chicago, Illinois USA 60618
It is important to let Unocal shareholders know what it at stake and that the international community opposes what their Directors are doing in Lubicon territory.
School Sisters of St. Francis Resolution
UNOCAL IMPACT ON INDIGENOUS SOCIETIES
WHEREAS Unocal Canada Management Limited has constructed a sour gas processing plant in northern Alberta on the contested aboriginal lands of the Lubicon Lake Indian Nation;
AND WHEREAS the Lubicon Lake Indian Nation publicly opposes construction and operation of Unocal Canada's sour gas processing plant for environmental and health reasons and has also charged Unocal Canada with fraudulently misrepresenting the Lubicon position on construction of the plant in order to obtain regulatory agency approval to construct it;
AND WHEREAS both levels of Canadian government have publicly acknowledged that the Lubicon Lake Indian Nation has rights to traditional Lubicon lands although there remains disagreement as to the exact nature and extent of those rights;
AND WHEREAS the dispute over Lubicon land rights has attracted international attention including a decision by the U.N. Human Rights Committee that development activity in the unceded Lubicon territory violates the civil and political rights of the Lubicons and charges by the World Council of Churches that development activities in the unceded Lubicon territory could have genocidal consequences for the Lubicon people;
AND WHEREAS the history of the Lubicon dispute and the support which the Lubicon people enjoy both within Canada and internationally ensures that the Unocal Canada sour gas processing plant will remain a source of continuing controversy for as long as it is located in the unceded Lubicon territory including the possibility of triggering an international consumer boycott of Unocal;
AND WHEREAS the Unocal Canada sour gas processing plant in northern Alberta is part of the larger question facing Unocal of the impact and implications of Unocal activities upon Indigenous societies worldwide;
AND WHEREAS opposition to the construction and operation of Unocal Canada's sour gas processing plant in the unceded Lubicon territory may therefore create continuing negative publicity for Unocal operations and an unstable investment climate jeopardizing returns to Unocal shareholders;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the shareholders of Unocal request the Board of Directors to prepare a full written report to all shareholders (admitting proprietary information) within three months of the 1994 Annual Meeting providing information on Unocal Canada's involvement in the Lubicon territory, the newly constructed sour gas processing plant, Lubicon charges that Unocal Canada fraudulently misrepresented the Lubicon position on construction of the plant in order to obtain regulatory approval of its construction, alternatives to putting this sour gas processing plant into operation, the likely consequences for Unocal if this sour gas processing plant is put into operation in the Lubicon territory and the impact and implications of Unocal activities upon Indigenous societies worldwide. This report should contain information on the situation provided directly by the Lubicons as well as by the officials of Unocal Canada.
Transcript of CBC Radio Edmonton A.M. (6:45 A.M.) Wednesday, March 29, 1995
John Grant, Edmonton A.M.: Last month the Klein Government gave the go-ahead for a Unocal sour-gas plant to be built in northern Alberta. The Lubicon Cree didn't want the plant built or at least opened until their land claim is settled. Now they have an unlikely ally. The School Sisters of St. Francis are based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They hold 7,000 shares in the company that built the sour gas plant. Sister Laurie Michelowski is with the Sisters of St. Francis and she's on the line this morning.
Lydia Neufeld, Edmonton A.M.: Good morning, Sister Laurie.
Sister Laurie Michelowski, School Sisters of St. Francis: Good morning, Lydia.
Neufeld: So what is your concern with this sour gas plant here in Alberta?
Michelowski: Well, our concern with the sour gas plant and other issues affecting Indigenous Peoples revolve around human rights issues, sovereignty issues and the environment, health and safety. We're especially concerned with the Unocal plant because of its location near the new (proposed) reserve of the Lubicon Cree as well as the methodology of going about the whole process.
Neufeld: How did you learn about this?
Michelowski: The issue was introduced to us through Sister Toni Harris, President of the Board of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. This is a coalition of over 275 Protestant, Roman Catholic and Jewish institutional investors. She has done much work on Exxon and the mining issues with Indigenous Peoples.
Neufeld: How unusual is it for a religious order to have this kind of corporate influence, so to speak?
Michelowski: Not unusual at all. The combined portfolio worth of the religious investors in the United States is $45 billion to begin with. Secondly I think we can look at the issues over the years. Religious investors have been quite influential on the issues of South Africa, EEO and affirmative action, the Series Program. And especially of interest to Canadian citizens, you're probably aware of the Great Whale Project with Hydro Quebec and the religious investors played a major role in the social and environmental concerns of that contract.
Neufeld: Now this position that you've taken, what response have you had from Unocal?
Michelowski: Unocal has been cooperative with us in the fact of dialoguing with us. I was able to visit the site, spend a day with Fritz Perschon and the general plant manager and attorneys. We met with the Lubicon Cree. However, I think they're cooperative to a point. What I'm feeling is that the company may not realize the depth of the matter. There may be an immediate concern with starting up the sour gas plant. Our concern is Unocal looking at the long term results of this action and its relationship with the Lubicons for the years to come.
Neufeld: Now did they initially try to block your action?
Michelowski: They offered a dialogue with us. We did that. As I said I met in Little Buffalo with the company and with the Lubicons. It's a formality that companies can choose to challenge our resolution with the Securities and Exchange Commission. They did that. We won the right at the Security and Exchange Commission to have our resolution introduced on the proxy statement to all the shareholders of Unocal.
Neufeld: Now, when you met with the Lubicons, what kind of response have you had from them?
Michelowski: Very welcoming, very affirmative. The Lubicons have appreciated our efforts. We do not speak on behalf of the Lubicon Cree nor do we speak on behalf of the vast supporters internationally of the Lubicon Cree. We speak with them. And I think they recognize that we are there as their colleague and ally.
Neufeld: How much influence do you think you will have in the end?
Michelowski: We hope quite a bit. As I said, we cited some of these other issues to you. I would hope that Unocal -- as they have indicated to us that it wants to do the right thing -- can re-examine its location. The Lubicon Cree are not anti-development. I think Unocal recognizes that. I think furthermore we would hope that beyond the ruling of the ERCB, beyond looking at bottom-line profits, that Unocal would recognize that perhaps just in changing location this can have long-term positive effects for everyone.
Neufeld: Thank you for speaking with us this morning.
Michelowski: May I add also when you were asking about how we learned about the issue -- I wanted to also recognize that the Los Angeles Rain Forest Action Network has been one of the groups that has worked with us on this issue.
Neufeld: Thank you.
Michelowski: Thank you.
Grant: Sister Laurie Michelowski is with the Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee.