(Edmonton, AB) – Chief Bernard Ominayak of the Lubicon Lake Nation met with Alberta Indigenous Relations Minister, Richard Feehan, at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton on Wednesday, May 18th. The agenda of items discussed, included the long outstanding land rights issues of the Lubicon Lake Nation, as well as a recent Human Rights complaint submitted to the 89th Session of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) earlier this month.
In the submission dated May 2, 2016 to CERD, the Lubicon Lake Nation outline assert systemic discrimination against them by the Federal and Provincial governments in the form of withholding services, funding and refusing to negotiate the long outstanding land rights issue which has made international headlines for over 30 years. The submission goes on to highlight interference by Federal and Provincial government officials into Lubicon governance. The submission asserts that interference concluded with the creation of a new Indian Act band council and gerrymandering of the membership list by the Federal Government to “manufacture the consent” of the Lubicon in an inferior land settlement. The Lubicon Lake Nation has experienced these tactics from the Federal Government as recently as 1990 with the creation of the Woodland Cree Band and 1999 with Loon River Cree. These issues are also in Canadian courts with a 700 million dollar lawsuit by the Lubicon Lake Nation against Alberta and Canada which was filed in June of 2013. No statement of defence has yet been filed by either government.
Despite the UN submission, Chief Ominayak and recently elected Councillor, Cynthia Tomlinson, attended the meeting which they said was intended to be solutions based. They noted that the focus was finding compromises to current impasses between the Nation and the Province left behind from the previous Conservative government. Chief Ominayak, in a letter to Minister Feehan following the meeting said. “In our meeting today our representatives offered a number of positive, potential solutions ranging from short to long term to begin to address the historical inequities our sovereign Nation has endured in the face of forced colonization.”
A lack of adequate consultation with the Nation prior to development of natural resources within Lubicon Lake Nation territory was also cited as a chief ongoing concern. That consultation stopped following the Federal creation of another new band entity in 2013. This has led to frustration in the oilfield and in courtrooms where the Lubicon currently have litigation against PennWest Petroleum Ltd. (TSX:PWT; NYSE:PWE) for fracking operations within the territory. Chief Ominayak noted in his letter that an Alberta Human Rights Commission Complaint regarding discrimination against the Nation and its citizens was also filed by an individual on Thursday, May 19, 2016.
Minister Feehan closed the meeting after agreeing to review the information submitted by the Nation representatives and respond.