Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 3, 2003
Lubicon Cree support group dogs PM to fulfill promise
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
Its demonstrations haven't been acknowledged by Prime Minister Jean Chretien or most of the mainstream media but the local support group for the Lubicon Lake Cree of Northern Alberta is not discouraged.
The Outaouais Lubicon Solidarity group, which has the support of KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiative, singer Bruce Cockburn, Oxfam and other NGOs, is in the tenth month of a 14-month campaign to pressure Chretien to live up to a commitment he made in 1993 as Opposition leader to resolve the Lubicons' issue.
The tactics of the group in trying to attract attention have been creative. Last year, the group of activists erected a miniature wood and cardboard town on the lawn of Parliament Hill to show MPs what needs to be done to fulfill a 1939 promise to create a reserve for the Lubicon Lake Cree and settle the 500-member nation's land rights claim.
Its latest action to draw attention to the plight of the Lubicon Cree was the construction Oct. 23 of "The Long & Winding Road to Justice" on Parliament Hill. The road is a time-line simulation of the Lubicons' 70-year quest for a land rights settlement.
"The Lubicons have said that in terms of negotiations (they) are closer to a settlement than they've ever been before," said Ed Bianchi, spokesperson for the Lubicon support group.
The United Nations charged in 1990 that Canada was violating human rights in its dealings with the Lubicon Cree.
In a recent news conference, Alex Neve, secretary general of the English branch of Amnesty International Canada, said it has been 13 years since the UN's human rights committee urged Canada to resolve the issue."Enough is enough."
Although promised a reserve in 1939, the Lubicons are still without land, adequate housing or running water, the group says. An estimated $1-million in resources is extracted from Lubicon land each day, it said.
In September 2002, the Lubicons and the federal government reached agreement on a capital construction package. Construction of a new community with running water and adequate housing is one portion of an overall settlement agreement. Alberta joined the talks in October.
Reserve lands, economic development, compensation packages, and a wildlife and environmental management agreement over traditional Lubicon territory are still to be negotiated.