October 17, 2008
Included below are news reports regarding the Lubicon Lake Indian Nations opposition to TransCanada Corporations North Central Crossing Pipeline.
Amnesty International and KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives joined with the Lubicon Nation yesterday in Edmonton to protest the Alberta governments approval of a license for the pipeline. The Lubicon fear that TransCanada is preparing to start construction within days.
TransCanada argues that they met with the Lubicon numerous times as if dropping by the office for coffee somehow constitutes real consultation and accommodation of Lubicon concerns. The Alberta government, for its part, says the Lubicons had the opportunity to participate in Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) regulatory hearings and thats the proper body to deal with the issue.
However the Lubicon Nation was explicitly barred from the AUC hearings because they told the Commission it had no jurisdiction to approve pipelines on lands to which the rights have never been ceded.
As long as the Lubicon land rights dispute remains unresolved, the Lubicon Nation retains aboriginal title to their lands and resources and neither the provincial or federal governments or, for that matter, TransCanada Corporation, has any right to unilaterally decide what projects are allowed to proceed on those lands.
Globe And Mail
October 17, 2008
Twenty years after the Lubicon Lake Cree Nation of northern Alberta gained international renown for calling for a boycott of the Calgary Olympics, they say they are still being pushed around by governments and business.
Yesterday, the Lubicon, along with Amnesty International, called on the Alberta government to halt construction of a TransCanada oil pipeline that will run through the heart of their traditional territory. The Lubicon say the Crown and TransCanada haven't fulfilled their obligation, established in several court rulings, to meaningfully consult and accommodate the concerns of the first nation.
"We just want to be treated fairly and dealt with in the process that everyone goes through," band councillor Alphonse Ominayak said.
"We don't believe they should proceed on the pipeline without following due process, which is consulting the Lubicon Cree First Nation."
TransCanada was granted permission to proceed with the pipeline by the Alberta Utilities Commission last Friday. Already, several kilometres of pipe have been moved into place within 50 kilometres of the Lubicon settlement, where 500 people live.
A spokesman for Alberta's energy minister said the provincial government will do nothing to stop TransCanada from proceeding. He said the Lubicon turned down the opportunity to address the utilities commission earlier this year, and the government would not intervene in a decision reached by an arm's-length, quasi-judicial body.
In a prepared statement, TransCanada said it respects the assertion of traditional land use by first nations, that it has consulted 13 aboriginal communities affected by the pipeline, and that it will begin construction of the pipeline later this year.
The Lubicon are not covered by a treaty, and so have never formally ceded their land, nor have they been given a land settlement. They were overlooked when Treaty 8 was signed in 1899, and no agreement has since been concluded. The last meaningful attempt by the federal government to negotiate was five years ago, the Lubicon say.
The Lubicon case has become well known internationally over the years, as the rest of the province has prospered and they have been left behind. Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, said he couldn't think of another Canadian human-rights case raised as often by United Nations agencies.
"It's something that has come to tarnish Canada's and Alberta's international reputation," Mr. Neve said.
As recently as August, a UN committee wrote to the Canadian government expressing concerns about this pipeline development, he said.
"The Alberta government has an important responsibility, which they have shirked for years, to intervene in a way that ensures the resource exploitation on Lubicon land does not go forward in a way that deepens the violation of Lubicon rights."
The federal Department of Indian Affairs refused to answer questions about the Lubicon yesterday, saying their dispute was a provincial matter.
Gene Zwozdesky, Alberta's minister of aboriginal relations, said his government could do very little about the situation, except to encourage the band and the federal government to return to the negotiating table.
The Lubicon say they are concerned that the pipeline development will harm their traditional hunting grounds, and they're worried TransCanada hasn't put in place safety measures to protect their community in case of an accident.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
EDMONTON - Amnesty International joined the Lubicon Cree on Thursday at the Alberta legislature to demand the northern first nation be consulted about an oil and gas pipeline being built through their traditional territory.
TransCanada Pipelines recently received approval from the provincial government to build a pipeline through what the Lubicon say is their traditional territory.
Dwight Gladue, a band councillor, said the they won't let it happen.
"TransCanada will not be allowed to proceed with construction by the Lubicon people until such time as they recognize the land rights that we do have," Gladue said.
Gladue would not say how the band intends to stop the construction.
Alphonse Omanayak, also a band councillor said they have concerns about their health, safety and wildlife from the pipeline that have never been addressed.
Alex Neve, the secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, said the treatment of the Lubicon has been cited internationally as a human rights violation. He said the band's treatment is "an outright disgrace," and called on TransCanada to halt the construction of the pipeline until their concerns are met.
"We are also insisting Premier Ed Stelmach's government intervene now, not next week, not next month, now, to ensure a suspension of pipeline construction," Neve said.
The Lubicon never signed a treaty with the government, and therefore have no reserve or other officially recognized territory. They say their land has been exploited by oil and gas companies without their consent or benefit.
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Gene Zwozdesky, responding to a question from the NDP, said this week in the legislature that he'll be meeting with both sides in the dispute in the near future.
Posted: 10/16/08 6:50PM
A small First Nation in northern Alberta is calling on TransCanada Pipelines to consult with them before it starts building a pipeline through their traditional territory.
"TransCanada will not be allowed to proceed with construction by the Lubicon people until such time they recognize land rights that we do have," said Dwight Gladue, a councillor with the Lubicon Lake First Nation.
The 300-kilometre pipeline, that will run from Manning, north of Peace River, to Wabasca, received approval from the Alberta Utilities Commission last week.
Gladue and fellow band councillor Alphonse Omanayak made the demand at a news conference Thursday at the Alberta Legislature.
"We're not fundamentally opposed to it," Omanayak said about the project. "We just want proper channels and respect due to our people.
Omanayak said there are concerns about the effects the pipeline will have on the health and safety of their people, as well as the impact on wildlife and the environment.
"Our position is the land is our land, and any company or industry [that] wants to proceed through our territory, they'll have to come through the proper channels which are in place at the Lubicon office," Omanayak said, adding other resource industries have met with the band about projects.
But a spokesperson for the Alberta Utilities Commission said the Lubicon were denied intervener status at hearings on the project because they did not provide the commission with necessary information, even after it granted them an extension.
"It's a two-step process basically, and it applies to everybody, whether its Lubicon, or whoever. And the first step is to demonstrate to us what rights you believe you have on the land in question. And second, how those rights might be adversely affected by what's proposed in the application," said Jim Law.
"The simple fact is, the Lubicon in this instance chose not to provide any information ... it was impossible for us under those circumstances to grant them intervener status."
A representative for TransCanada Pipelines told CBC News Thursday the company held 15 face-to-face meetings with the Lubicon Cree, as well as meetings with 13 other First Nations.
Robert Kendall, director of aboriginal relations for TransCanada, said the company altered the route of the pipeline after elders suggested it be moved further away from a lake.
The Lubicon Cree have been involved with a decades-long dispute with the federal government over land claims.
The Lubicon never signed a treaty with the federal government, and it does not have any reserve lands.
The United Nations has urged Canada to settle a land claim with the band, which has 500 members.
An Amnesty International representative joined the Lubicon Cree at the Alberta Legislature Thursday.
"The many long decades of failure to respect the human rights of the Lubicon Lake Indian Nation in Northern Alberta have become one of Canada's and Alberta's most notorious human rights failings on the world stage," said Alex Neve, secretary-general of Amnesty International Canada.
Neve said Amnesty International has launched a global initiative in support of the Lubicon Cree.
October 16, 2008
By The Canadian Press
Albertas Lubicon Cree have locked arms with Amnesty International to call for an immediate stop to a pipeline on what they say are their traditional lands.
But band leaders speaking at the legislature Thursday wouldnt say what action theyre prepared to take to stop construction of the Nova Gas project.
The Alberta Utilities Commission approved the pipeline last week, but Lubicon councillors say they never gave their approval.
One band leader said the area is used by roughly 250 band members for hunting.
The Lubicon have been fighting for years to get land for a reserve and for compensation from energy exploration in their area.
A spokesman for Amnesty International Canada says it is renewing its global campaign to protect the health, culture and human rights of the tiny Lubicon band.
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