Cultural and Environmental Destruction / Canada
February 29, 1996
"I hope people will understand we're trying to survive from day
to day and need all the help we can get from the general public.
It's a battle against time. We realize that and the other side knows that."
For more than 60 years the Lubicon Lake Indian Nation has been struggling for official recognition of its aboriginal land rights in northern Alberta, Canada. Because of the remoteness of their lands the Lubicon never signed away or lost their lands in war and were able, until 1979, to peacefully pursue their traditional hunting and trapping way of life.
In 1979 an all-weather road was built into Lubicon territory. Massive oil and gas reserves had been discovered in the area and, armed with provincial government leases, major oil companies moved onto Lubicon homelands, drilling more than 400 oil-wells within a fifteen-mile radius of the Lubicon community. Industrial development devastated Lubicon society and its subsistence economy. Moose, the staple of the Lubicon's diet, fled the area, along with most of the smaller animals which formed the basis of the trapping trade. Alcoholism, birth defects, suicides, a tuberculosis epidemic and other medical problems were experienced by the Lubicon. Meanwhile the gas and oil companies realized more than $8 billion in revenues from their operations on Lubicon land. The Lubicon have received no royalties from the oil and gas operations.
Daishowa, a Japanese-based multinational paper manufacturer was granted leases in 1988 to clear-cut almost the entire traditional Lubicon territory. Despite objections from the Lubicon, Daishowa and its subsidiaries began logging operations in 1990. In 1991 Lubicon supporters began a nationwide consumer boycott of businesses carrying Daishowa paper products. Daishowa responded with legal action, seeking and obtaining an injunction to stop the boycott. Daishowa remains poised to begin clear-cutting the rich stands of easily accessible hardwoods on Lubicon lands.
In yet another challenge to the Lubicon and their environment, Unocal, a United States-based oil and gas corporation, has built a sour gas processing plant within three miles of a proposed Lubicon reserve. The sour gas plant processes hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide, chemicals associated with cancer and respiratory and skin disease. The Lubicon have asked that Unocal relocate its plant away from the reserve. Unocal has refused and the plant continues to operate directly upwind of the reserve site.
Requested Action - letters/phone/fax to:
* Jean Chretien / Canadian Prime Minister
- Remind Mr. Chretien that, while $8 billion in oil and gas revenues have been extracted from Lubicon lands, the Lubicon live in poverty;Background:
- Express concern that since the arrival of industrial development on their lands the Lubicon's traditional way of life has been plagued with alcoholism, suicides, still-births, birth defects and tuberculosis;
- Demand that the Canadian government negotiate fairly with the Lubicon Nation to ensure that its legitimate land rights are guaranteed; and,
- Stress that, until the Lubicon have achieved a fair settlement of their land rights, multinational companies such as Unocal and Daishowa must immediately cease their exploitation of the Lubicon's natural resources.
* Canadian Courts and the Lubicon:
Public pressure resulting from the consumer boycott has forced Daishowa to cancel its planned logging on Lubicon lands since 1991. Daishowa claims that the boycott has cost it $5 million (Canadian dollars.) Early in 1996 a Canadian court ruled that the boycott, because it was "causing economic harm" to the corporation, was illegal. Lubicon supporters are now forbidden to peacefully picket stores that carry Daishowa products. In prior decisions Canadian courts have dismissed suits by the Lubicon that challenged the right of the Province of Alberta and the Canadian government to offer oil, gas, and timber leases on Lubicon homelands.* Economic destruction of the Lubicon:
The Lubicon report that before 1979 the moose harvest averaged 200 per year. The current harvest is less than 20 per year. During the same time period the annual income per trapper from trapping has dropped from $5,000 to under $400. Canada's Supreme Court has ruled that aboriginal rights are based on a people's ability to pursue their traditional livelihoods. Given that the oil, gas, and timber industries are encouraged to invade and develop on Lubicon lands, the Lubicon feel that both the Alberta and Ottawa governments are intentionally driving the Lubicon to become dependent on welfare.Addresses:
Global Response Quick Response Network members are asked to send faxes/letters to the Prime Minister of Canada. Please send a copy of your letter to the Global Response office. We have been asked to forward copies of your letters to the Lubicon Nation and to the United Nations Human Rights Committee. We have also been asked to provide you with addresses for the Canadian offices of both Daishowa and Unocal. Please send copies of your letters to the Daishowa and Unocal officals whose addresses are listed below. A one-page airmail letter from the United States to Canada costs 46 cents.copies to:
Prime Minister of Canada
80 Wellington St. 2nd Floor
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Fax: 613 957-5556 (Dear Prime Minister)
Daishowa Forest Products Ltd.
161 Bay St Suite 2110
Toronto, ON M5J 2S1
Fax: 416 862-7514
Fritz Perschon Jr.
Unocal Canada Ltd.
150 6th Ave. SW Box 999
Calgary, AB T2P 2K6
Fax: 403 268-0153
This Global Response Action was issued in support of and with information provided by Lubicon Lake Indian Nation, 3536 106 St. Edmonton AB T6J 1A4, Canada and The Friends of the Lubicon, 485 Ridelle Ave, Toronto ON, M6B 1K6, Canada
Thank you for you prompt attention to this action.