Nov/97: Amitié Lubicons-Québec Bulletin #2



Amitié Lubicons-Québec's information bulletin would like to keep the public and our endorsers informed of our local campaign in support of the Lubicon Lake Cree Nation (Alberta) and the Friends of the Lubicon (Toronto), presently before the courts battling a SLAPP suit. Contact us for more information, to take part in our events or to endorse the campaign if you haven't already done so. Keep in touch and stay informed.

[S.I.S.I.S. note: Ellipses in the following article are as in the original.]


Here are a few highlights from the Daishowa vs. Friends of the Lubicon trial that began in Toronto on September 2nd. After 18 days of testimony, the Court adjourned on October 2nd. The trial will resume November 24th with Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak's testimony.

On September 2nd, more than 200 people attended a morning rally in support of the Toronto-based Friends of the Lubicon (FoL), including Amitié Lubicons-Québec representatives, Lubicon Cree elder Reinie Jobin and Cree councilor Dwight Gladue who offered words of encouragement to the defendants -- Kevin Thomas, Stephen Kenda and Ed Bianchi -- on the opening day of their trial.

Kitagawa admits growing profits

Daishowa's first witness, Koichi Kitigawa, currently President of Daishowa Sales, admitted that Daishowa Inc.'s profits have gone up every year since the boycott began in 1991, that Daishowa Inc.'s production remained stable, that Daishowa Inc. laid off a third of its workforce before the boycott even began and that the company has since hired new employees.

Successful boycott tactics

Gordon Bunt, General Manager of Daishowa Packaging in Winnipeg, said FoL was able to persuade << virtually all >> of Daishowa's customers they contacted to stop buying Daishowa products, such as brown paper bags and bleached white shopping bags. He said U.S. sales have increased and that he was aware of some activism in the northwestern United States around the boycott issue. Karen Wristen, council for FoL, asked Bunt what the "threat" would consist of if Daishowa's customers refused to join the boycott. Picketing, leafleting and demonstrating were the only "threats" he could think of. Bunt said he had no reason to doubt a picket would consist of more than 15 people at a time...

Suzanne Côté of Bowring Stores said that Daishowa had sent three representatives including Daishowa-Marubeni International Vice President Tom Hamaoka to speak to her about Daishowa's side of the issue. Country Style Donuts' Peter Mertens said he was not unsympathetic toward FoL and tried to use his influence as a customer to get Daishowa to make a commitment not to log on Lubicon land. He stopped using Daishowa bags when that commitment was not forthcoming.

Daishowa's bad name

Karen Winter, a Daishowa salesperson in Toronto, stated she had made a recent attempt to get Roots back after they had taken their business to another bag manufacturer. But, Roots refused to use Daishowa products even with the added incentive of a discount. In cross-examination, Winter stated that Bowring Stores have been using Daishowa manufactured specialty paper products again in the last few years. Another Daishowa customer, Cruickshanks, a plant nursery, has returned to Daishowa. JAck Love, also employed in Daishowa's Metro Toronto sales, said that a former customer of Daishowa, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, still refuses to use Daishowa products. He stated that Daishowa has a bad name in the industry and that businesses are concerned about the boycott and picketing.

Pizza Pizza's Chairman, Michale Overs, among the most vocal opponents of the boycott, said he made inquiries to Daishowa about the situation in Alberta. He joined the boycott only because he felt that picketing would be bad for business. In cross-examination, counsel for FoL questioned Overs about the information he received from Daishowa. He stated that Daishowa's Tom Hamaoka told him that Daishowa would not cut on Lubicon land until there was a land settlement...Karen Wristen asked Overs if he knew, on the contrary, that Daishowa had plans to cut in that area every year. He answered that he had never been made aware of that by Daishowa.

Thomas takes the stand for FoL

Kevin Thomas, one of three FoL defendants, testified about his first trip to the Lubicon community in Northern Alberta in 1987. He said he arrived in the midst of a tuberculosis epidemic that affected a third of the community. Thomas said he attended a meeting between Lubicon leaders and Alberta Health officials who were reluctant to post a full time nurse in the community despite the tuberculosis epidemic... He understood that people with an ability to do something about health conditions in the Lubicon settlement were deliberately refusing to do so.

FoL was created to inform the public about the Lubicon situation. Daishowa's 1988 announcement to build a new Pulp Mill in Peace River, bordering Lubicon land, was well covered in the media. Daishowa later announced that its subsidiary, Brewster Construction, would log on Lubicon land in the fall of 1990. The idea for the boycott came when Ed Bianchi, another FoL member currently named in Daishowa's lawsuit, got his hands on a fast food take out bag with the Daishowa logo on its bottom.

Peter Jervis, counsel for Daishowa, argued that even with an injunction against the boycott, FoL would still be free to pursue 80 to 85% of their "educational activities". Thomas replied that the heart is only a small portion of the human body, but that if it is removed, the body will die...

Thomas objected to Jervis' calling FoL's picketing of stores a "threat". Thomas said the word implies illegal coercion. He said that FoL pickets were simply informational, that FoL never stopped people from entering a store, that people had a right to know what each store's position was on the Lubicon issue and that they had a right to choose whether or not to shop there. That, Thomas said, is not coercive, it's democracy.

Jervis suggested that the paper bags being boycotted were made by Daishowa Inc., which has nothing to do with the company -- Daishowa Canada Co. Ltd. -- which runs the Daishowa-Marubeni pulp mill in Peace River. Thomas said Daishowa companies were all connected back to the same parent company and to suggest otherwise, he added, is like saying his five fingers weren't connected to the same hand.

Ward Churchill testifies

Jervis strongly and repeatedly objected to Ward Churchill testifying on the basis that he should not be permitted to introduce any definition of genocide other than the one Daishowa has been using during the proceedings. Since January 1996, Daishowa's temporary injunction against FoL outlaws their use of the term "genocide" when describing what is happening to the Lubicon Cree in Northern Alberta. The Judge decided to hear Churchill's testimony before ruling on its relevancy.

Ward Churchill, longtime native rights activist, author of 16 books and Chair of the Ethnic Studies Department at the University of Colorado at Boulder began his testimony by explaining the origins of the term "genocide", first coined by Raphael Lemkin in 1944 in his book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe. Genocide, according to Lemkin, is not synonymous with mass murder. Physically liquidating members of a group (Daishowa's definition of the term) is only one method of implementing genocide, Churchill stressed, stating that 80% of Lemkin's examples dealt with non lethal means of "pushing people out of existence", such as the imposed transfer of children from one group to another.

According to Churchill, in an extensive draft resolution [Lemkin] formulated in 1946 for the United Nations, Lemkin defined three categories of genocide: cultural, biological, and physical. A much abbreviated version of this draft led to the final 1948 U.N. Convention on the Punishment of the Crime of Genocide which, in Article 2, defines genocide according to the following five criteria: direct killing, the systematic imposition of physical and psychological harm, the destruction of the physical environment, the forced prevention of births, and the compulsory transfer of children. Churchill added that the 1948 U.N. convention's definition of genocide is widely used today among the general population, jurists and journalists for interpretive and analytical purposes.

Daishowa's objections to Churchill's testimony were overruled. There was no cross-examination.

More Oil and Gas development

Lorraine Land said she intervented on behalf of FoL in November 1994 at the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) hearings in Alberta into Unocal's construction of a "sour" (or sulfuric) gas plant on Lubicon land. She said it was "apparent deliberateness" that Unocal accelerated and finished construction of the sour gas plant on land adjacent to the proposed site of a new Cree community on Lubicon Lake before public hearings into the project even began. Unocal dashed any hopes the Lubicon had for a healthy community on that site in the future. Having consulted the relevant studies on the subject, Land testified that she was aware of the detrimental effects of sour gas on the health of animals and human beings.

Land said that changes in logging practices in Alberta in the 1980s and new pulping technologies allowed for the use of aspen, formerly considered a weed tree. Vast new areas of the boreal forest in Northern Alberta, therefore, including Lubicon land, were made available to logging companies and the scale of logging increased exponentially.

The immediate goal of the Daishowa boycott, she said, is to prevent Daishowa from logging on Lubicon land before a land claims settlement is reached and to ensure, in the meantime, that further destruction of the land in question is prevented. The boycott encouraged consumers to make a decision and affect Daishowa's corporate policy, Land said.

For a complete account of the trial so far, contact Friends of the Lubicon (Toronto), 485 Ridelle Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M6B 1K6. Phone: (417) 763-7500; fax: (416) 603-2715; e-mail

For more information on our local campaign, contact:

Amitié Lubicons-Québec
P.O. Box 854, Kanehsatake
Mohawk Territory (Québec)
J0N 1E0
Telephone: (514) 844-0484
Fax: (514) 844-0113

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