Spotlight on unsafe drinking water sparks letter writing call for Lubicon settlement
March 10, 2006
Attached for your information are copies of recent newspaper articles on an announcement made by the new Canadian Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice that he will be proceeding on an emergency basis to deal with the problem of unsafe drinking water and sewage disposal on 15 selected Indian reserves in Canada. In the next couple of weeks Mr. Prentice will be announcing which 15 Indian communities (out of over 600) will be receiving this urgent emergency attention.
The Lubicons have no water treatment facility or sewage treatment system at all. Neither do they have any community health services and Lubicon housing conditions are terrible with as many as three or four generations living in a poorly insulated 900 square foot bungalow with no running water or indoor toilet facilities. All of the traditional Lubicon sources of drinking water have been contaminated by resource exploitation activity and the Lubicon people have to go 100 kilometers one way to buy bottled water despite the fact that many of them have been forced onto welfare by destruction of the traditional hunting and trapping economy; there is no public transportation serving their community and many of them don't own vehicles. Travelling over 100 kilometers to buy bottled water and getting to an outdoor toilet unassisted is particularly difficult for some of the older Lubicon people, especially during the harsh northern Alberta winter where temperatures can drop to -40 degrees C. As you can imagine, Lubicon medical problems are rampant with widespread asthma and skin rashes among the children so severe as to cause permanent scarring, a tuberculosis epidemic in 1987 which infected a third of the Lubicon people, near epidemic respiratory and stomach problems, cancers of all kinds and reproduction problems which during one 18 month period resulted in 19 still born Lubicon babies out of 21 pregnancies.
If the new minority government includes settlement of Lubicon land rights in the list of priority items they will be announcing in a couple of weeks, and the new Minister sends negotiators to the Lubicon negotiating table to negotiate all outstanding Lubicon settlement issues in good faith, there is a decent chance that a settlement of Lubicon land rights can be negotiated in the next several months. There is also a decent chance that such a settlement would be supported by the opposition political parties.
If there is no movement on the Lubicon issue in the fairly near future, however, it is likely that the minority Conservative government and the Canadian Parliament will both devolve into non-productive internal bickering making it extremely difficult if not impossible to get much of anything accomplished. If that happens any movement on the Lubicon issue will probably be put off until a new federal government is elected. When that election would occur and who might win such an election is unknown. Needless to say, putting off any hope of settlement in the foreseeable future would be very difficult for the Lubicon people.
The Lubicon people are therefore asking supporters to write the new Indian Affairs Minister urging him to give urgency and priority to settlement of Lubicon land rights and to send negotiators to the Lubicon negotiating table with a mandate to negotiate all outstanding Lubicon settlement issues in good faith. With the announcement of government priorities expected as early as next week, it would be good if these letters could be faxed or emailed to the new Minister as soon as possible.
Please write to:
|Jim Prentice was the Minister of Indian Affairs when the above was written, the new minister is
The Hon. Chuck Strahl
Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs
Government of Canada
Ottawa, ON K1A 0H4
Fax: (613) 944-9376
Please send noted copies of your letters to:
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
Government of Canada
Ottawa, ON K1A 0H4
Fax: (613) 947-0310
Please send copies of your letters to:
Friends of the Lubicon
P.O. Box 444, Stn. D,
Canada, M9A 4X4