A United Lubicon Lake Nation Faces Continuing Threat of Canadian Unlawful Intervention
July 26, 2012
The Lubicon Lake Nation have fought multi-national corporations, environmental devastation and attempts to divide and conquer them, walking away as victors and as international champions of Indigenous rights. The most recent threat to their peoplehood and self-determination would surprise some: it's the Government of Canada.
In an historic move to reconcile the community and address the public perception of a fissure within the Nation, Lubicon Lake Nation peoples mandated their leadership to address that public perception through traditional and customary means of reconciliation. In that regard, Steve Noskey, Dwight Gladue, Larry Ominayak and Dwight Sawan directed a letter to Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada John Duncan on July 19, 2012 expressing that they supported Chief Bernard Ominayak as the rightful Chief of the Lubicon people. Relief in the community was palpable with many Lubicon people acknowledging the impact that the perception of a split in the community had on public support, economic development and international advocacy. The Nation itself has addressed the letter in accordance with the mandate provided to them by their people and in accordance with Lubicon Lake Nation customs and laws.
However, on Wednesday, July 26th the Nation was blindsided by the Government of Canada which met with a few people outside of Lubicon territory in what they declared was a meeting to discuss Lubicon issues. Made aware of the meeting through word of mouth as no notice had been placed in or directed to the Administration Office, territory, leadership or citizens living within the communities most populated by Lubicon people, Lubicon representatives including Council and Communications officials attended and issued hand delivered statements to Government of Canada officials who were organizing and populating the meeting. The statements noted the illegality of the meeting, the ethics of selecting and choosing who had voice among the Lubicon, and the requirement that Canada engage Lubicon government officials in any meetings addressing the Nation. It also contained a requirement that the AANDC remove themselves, the third party management and an alleged mediator from Lubicon territory until active discussion with and approvals from the Lubicon Lake Nation take place. Spencer Phillippo, AANDC Director of Social Development and First Nations Relations responded by stating that Canada's position remained unchanged and "it's status quo."
Seeing the meeting as a deliberate attempt to undermine the authority of the united Lubicon Lake Nation, Chief Ominayak said: "The Government of Canada has, for the past three years, used the excuse that we were divided and they didn't know who to talk to, so they wouldn't talk to us. Now, when we are united and they clearly know who to talk to, they refuse to do so -- instead, hand selecting who they want to listen to and most likely gathering opinions that reflect their own. We don't even know who was invited, who attended, and whether they were actually Lubicon people. Most certainly, people who don't speak English, who live in the territory and who don't have access or prefer not to access outside communities for the purpose of dealing with internal Lubicon matters were not included. We represent our people and they have made us their voice in all government to government discussions. Canada will not canvass nor listen to that voice. We understand this to be a further attack on the Nation and an attempt to disempower the Lubicon Lake Nation people by taking steps to set up a Canadian mandated and Indian Act legislated puppet regime. There must be something really special in this land that they makes them willing to go so far in attempting to breach our rights."
In response to Lubicon demands to remove Third Party Management, Phillipo suggested that resolving the governance dispute alone was no longer enough basis for the removal of the third party financial status. This is in stark contrast to comments by AANDC spokesperson Glenn Luff in 2011 where he stated it's a matter of the Lubicon "letting us clearly know who the duly elected chief and council are. We don't want to be in there as a Third Party Manager, we don't want to take over the governorship of Lubicon."
Even given the recent development on their territory, the Lubicon people remain committed to engagement with the Government of Canada. "We still invite Minister Duncan to come to our territory and see our land, our people, and our Nation. He should meet the people he is in danger of silencing. He should see the government he says does not exist. He should see the work he professes is not happening," Ominayak said.
For more information, visit: www.lubiconlakenation.ca
About the Lubicon Lake Nation:
The Lubicon Lake Nation is a sovereign Nation which has Canada's longest outstanding land claim. Canada's treatment of the Lubicon Lake Nation has been the subject of damning reports and findings by the United Nations.
LUBICON LAKE NATION, LITTLE BUFFALO, ABFor more information contact
Communications / Industry Liaison
Lubicon Lake Nation
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