Correspondence between Daishowa and Amitié Lubicons-Québec


translation of letter sent on March 28, 1997

Mr. Tom Hamaoka
Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd.
1095 West Pender Street, suite 1700
Vancouver, BC
V6E 2M6

Sir, We would like to respond to the letter of January 31st, 1997, sent to us by your General Manager, James P. Morrison. Although we thank you for your response, we were very disappointed that you chose not to personally respond to our requests on a matter as important as the survival of the Lubicon Lake Cree. Having taken the time necessary to consider Mr. Morrison's assertions carefully, we would like to reply to the many questions they have raised.

In your company's name, Mr. Morrison underlined DMI's "goodwill" and its "voluntarily refraining from harvesting in the Lubicon area of concern". However, he seems to completely ignore the enormous efforts that the Lubicon Lake Cree and their supporters have made to prevent you from accessing their land and logging their forests. In fact, we believe these efforts protected the boreal forest in Lubicon territory rather than any charitable concession or "voluntary" goodwill on your part.

We wish to respond to the point concerning those "other commercial activities underway...for many decades" in this territory, by pointing out that your company, whether Mr. Morrison likes it or not, has also participated in these activities which have so greatly affected Cree society. Brewster Construction, at one time a wholly owned subsidiary of Daishowa Canada Company Ltd, cut trees on Cree land in 1990 and planned to continue doing so in the fall of 1991. Today, the cumulative effects of almost 20 years of pillaging Cree land, first by the petroleum and then by the forestry industries, have resulted in a radical dislocation of Cree society and a deterioration of its social fabric so pronounced that it has become all but unrecognizable.

In such circumstances, that individuals from the Cree community have (freely?) chosen "direct wage employment" in the primary sector only bears witness to a situation which continues to unfold without the participation of the Lubicon Lake Cree, the first inhabitants of the territory in question. Since 1980, as the community has slipped toward economic ruin, almost nine billion dollars in petroleum resources have been extracted from the territory, and this without consultation, without the least licensing fee, and often in the face of express objections from the Cree. In such circumstances then, what are the few "direct jobs" Mr. Morrison gestures to really worth?

In 1983, after 400 oil and natural gas wells were drilled within a 25 km radius of the community of Little Buffalo, Anwar Barkat of the World Council of Churches wrote to the Prime Minister of Canada claiming that the actions of the Alberta government and dozens of oil companies in Lubicon territory "could have genocidal consequences". Is it possible today, almost 15 years after this serious statement was made and an acceleration in resource extraction activity in Lubicon territory, that the condition of the Lubicon Lake Cree could have improved to such an extent that the large-scale logging operations contemplated by your company on that land no longer pose a threat to their survival?

After visiting the community of Little Buffalo and the Lubicon territory in August 1996, we don't think so. We feel your logging activities are the last straw and we intend to do something about it. It is unacceptable that your company let the threat of logging hang over the Lubicon from one year to the next, a threat which if carried out could constitute, according to Lubicon elder Reinie Jobin of Little Buffalo, the "final destruction of my community and my people".

Despite Mr. Morrison's sermon on DMI's exemplary good will in this case, you personally announced, on December 19th, 1996, DMI's intention of constructing a new $900 million paper mill in Peace River by 2001, a mill which will undoubtedly be supplied with raw material taken from Lubicon territory. According to an article published by Jac MacDonald in the Edmonton Journal and the Calgary Herald on December 20th, DMI still doesn't have an agreement with the Little Red River Cree and Tall Cree First Nations on this issue. And what about the Lubicon Lake Cree? Has an agreement with them been concluded to prevent their probable disappearance if your project goes ahead?

The reserve of 246 square km, which Mr. Morrison alludes to with so little precision in his letter, was the result of negotiations between Mr. Bernard Ominayak, Chief of the Lubicon Cree, and Mr. Don Getty, Premier of Alberta at the time. The negotiations were held on October 22nd, 1988, in the Alberta town of Grimshaw. Contrary to Mr. Morrison's assertion, the Grimshaw Accord and by extension the reserve in question, were negotiated seven months after the announcement made by the Daishowa Paper Manufacturing Company Ltd. and the government of Alberta in February 1988 concerning the construction of the Peace River mill. How then can Mr. Morrison assert so categorically that this reserve "has always been set aside and has never been a part of DMI's forest management area"? It must be added - because Mr. Morrison didn't think it worth mentioning - that the provisions of the Grimshaw Accord concerning the reserve have not been honoured by the Alberta government since Mr. Getty's departure.

We are as much concerned as you are for DMI's "employees and their families". However, we are also concerned for the Lubicon Lake Cree families who have had to and still have to bear the daily consequences of your actions and your inaction in this case. If DMI is indeed interested in the well-being of its employees and their families, as Mr. Morrison asserts, isn't it incumbent upon you to make a public commitment not to cut nor buy timber cut on Lubicon land until an agreement has been reached between the Lubicon Lake Cree and the governments of Canada and Alberta, and until DMI negotiates an accord to regulate its forestry activities on Lubicon territory with the Cree?

Surely it is simple enough. With one gesture, the boycott of your products would have ceased and you would have helped secure the "livelihood of many thousands of people and their families who depend on [your] operations," as well as the survival of a Native society. For DMI it would make both ethical and economical sense. Is the "false propaganda" Mr. Morrison refers to in his letter ours or yours? For our part, we are fully prepared to correct any false assertions and we would be grateful to you for doing the same. On the issue of "the employees of companies such as Daishowa Inc. or Daishowa America, whose operations do not incorporate Alberta wood products" it must be said that, according to our understanding, Daishowa was never made the object of a boycott because of the origin of wood used in its operations. To be brief, Daishowa was boycotted because it refused to make the commitment mentioned above. Until an agreement between the Lubicon Lake Cree and the governments of Alberta and Canada has been signed, Daishowa and logging constitute a threat to this community and its hopes for a decent future. If Daishowa cuts on Lubicon territory before negotiations are successfully concluded, what will remain to negotiate or to use once negotiations are concluded?

In response to the assertion that Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd, is tied neither to Daishowa Forest Products Ltd., Daishowa Inc, nor Daishowa America, we'd like to quote Judge Kiteley of the Ontario Court who asserted in her judgement (p.104) of the first instance, dated May 19th, 1995, that it was "apparent that the Daishowa corporate entities constitute a group and are acknowledged as such by counsel for plaintiff [Daishowa Inc.]. Materials produced by the plaintiff clearly indicate that, for purposes of corporate image, all of the subsidiaries and related companies are described as part of one entity." This question will be dealt with in more detail in our correspondence with Daishowa Forest Products Ltd.

According to Mr. Morrison, "DMI has waited patiently for seven years now" for a resolution to the dispute which pits the Cree against the governments. The Cree themselves have waited for 58 years. During this time, their world has been deliberately shattered and their chances for a decent future have deteriorated considerably. Mr. Morrison adds, "unfortunately, the remaining Lubicons have rejected all Canadian Government land claim settlement offers to date and it is unknown when or if a resolution can be found that will satisfy their financial requirements." As someone who works for a multinational which received $75 million in federal and provincial subsidies for its Peace River mill, Mr. Morrison is not exactly in the best position to talk about the "financial requirements" of others. In any case, this matter is none of DMI's business.

If Mr. Morrison wants to convince us that "DMI is concerned about the welfare of the Lubicon people," DMI should make a public and unequivocal commitment not to cut or nor to buy timber cut on Cree land until an agreement on territorial rights between the Lubicon Lake Cree and the governments of Canada and Alberta has been concluded, and until DMI has negotiated an agreement regulating its forestry practices on Lubicon territory with the Cree. This is what the Lubicons have always asked for and this is what we are once again asking of you.

We believe that you continue to refuse to make such a commitment to the detriment of the Lubicon Lake Cree, as well as to your own interests in Alberta, Manitoba, BC, Québec, Washington state, Australia and elsewhere. We urge you, Mr. Hamaoka, to do what is just and responsible towards the "remaining" Lubicon Lake Cree; otherwise we will continue our public awareness campaign here in Québec.

We look forward to your response to our questions.


Marc Drouin
for the Amitié Lubicons-Québec campaign.

cc Lubicon Lake Cree Nation
Friends of the Lubicon (Toronto)
Daishowa Paper Manufacturing Company Ltd.
Daishowa Forest Products Ltd.

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