(eng)INDIGENOUS PEOPLE UNDER SEIGE/Canada

The Anarchives (tao@lglobal.com)
Wed, 13 Mar 1996 13:08:22 +0000 (GMT)


Date: Mon, 11 Mar 1996 18:49:00 GMT
From: taiga@nn.apc.org
Subject: the Alert: Indigenous People under siege in Canada by gov't
and industry

The following report was compiled by the Taiga Rescue Network:

EMERGENCY ACTION ALERT
INDIGENOUS PEOPLE UNDER SIEGE
BY CANADIAN GOVERNMENTS AND INDUSTRY

March 6, 1996

>From its earliest days as a colony of competing European countries,
Canada's natural resources have been ruthlessly exploited by
powerful foreign interests with little concern for human rights or
the environment. Contrary to the face which Canada presents to the
world, this is a process which continues essentially unabated to
this day -- made possible by vast, resource rich lands and a
relatively small population most of whom live within a few hundred
miles of the US border and consequently don't have to personally
suffer the devastating human and environmental effects of unbridled
natural resource exploitation in the hinterland.

The people of the boreal forest in Canada -- Canada's Indigenous
peoples -- can't avoid the human and environmental consequences of
massive resource exploitation. Typically it occurs where they live
and they receive few of the economic benefits which others use to
ameliorate its worst effects. Although Canadians as a whole have
one of the highest standards of living in the world, the original
owners of Canadian land and resources typically live in third world
conditions including grinding poverty, over 80 per cent
unemployment, overcrowded and substandard housing, high rates of
illness, infant mortality, illiteracy and suicide, low educational
levels and a life expectancy 10 years shorter than non-Indigenous
Canadians.

The plight of Canada's Indigenous peoples does not exist as an
anomaly despite Canada's great wealth as a country. It exists as
a direct result of the way that wealth is generated. In order to
gain unrestricted access to valuable resources, Aboriginal land
rights are deliberately subverted by Canadian government working
intandem with transnational resource exploitation companies.
Traditional Indigenous economies are systematically destroyed.
Aboriginal leadership is cynically undermined. Aboriginal
societies are purposefully torn asunder. Subversion of Indigenous
land rights, wanton destruction of traditional economies, unbridled
exploitation of Indigenous lands and resources, undermining of
Indigenous leadership, the tearing apart of Aboriginal societies --
that's a conscious, deliberate formula for wiping out distinct,
functioning Indigenous societies in Canada.

In the headlong rush to transform life sustaining natural resources
into inedible, unbreathable corporate profits, the people of the
boreal forest in Canada are no less endangered than endangered
species of boreal flora and fauna. Three Indigenous societies in
Canada that desperately need international assistance and support
are the Innu of Labrador, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake and the
Lubicon Cree. An up-date on developments in each of these
situations is as follows.

Innu Up-Date

A new multi-national memorandum of understanding which
provides for10 more years of low level military flights has been
signed by Canada, U.K., Germany and the Netherlands. The
agreement allows for 15,000 low-level military flights a year.
Conducted at a height of about 30 metres, these tree-top level
military flights produce ear shattering noise, literally shake the
ground and play bloody havoc with both the Innu and the animals
upon which the Innu depend for survival. The citizens and
governments of those other countries are implicated in the human
and environmental consequences of these low-level military flights
no less than Canada and Canadians. People are urged to press all
four involved state governments to immediately stop low level
military flights over unceded Innu territory.

Adding to Innu troubles is discovery of a huge new nickel deposit
in unceded Innu territory reportedly consisting of 100 million
tonnes of ore worth at least $10 billion Canadian. With typical
Canadian slight of hand, the company has separated support
infrastructure from development of the mine itself -- allowing
construction of support infrastructure to proceed without benefit
of the environmental assessment supposedly required for large scale
mining projects. Existence of already completed support
infrastructure will then of course prejudice any eventual
environmental study. That's par for the course in the Canadian
context where environmental assessments, when they're done at all,
are typically more pretence, window dressing and rubber stamp than
serious environmental assessments in any technical sense.

The Innu are understandably worried about the environmental
consequences of the new nickel mine. One of the main entrepreneurs
behind development of the new nickel mine in unceded Innu
territory has been associated with several mining disasters in the
past including one in Colorado where deadly cyanide leaked into a
river killing the fish and causing a $130 million (U.S.) pollution
problem which will take years to clean up.

Like other Indigenous societies in Canada the Innu would prefer
that the outstanding question of their land rights be settled
before anything further is done to exploit the nickel resource in
their unceded territory. In any case the Innu want a full federal/
provincial environmental assessment conducted and to be consulted
prior to any further work on the mine or related infrastructure.
At the very least a full federal/provincial environmental
assessment and consultations with the Innu would slow down the
current pell-mell process and provide a basis for public discussion
of the issues.

People should write Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien and
demand that all activity related to exploitation of the nickel
resource at Voisey Bay be frozen pending settlement of Innu land
rights, conduct of a full federal/provincial environmental study
and consultation with the Innu people. Noted copies should be sent
to Newfoundland Premier Brian Tobin and Innu President Peter
Penashue. Additional information on the struggle of the Innu can
be obtained by Innu Environment Advisor Larry Innes.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien
Langevin Block
80 Wellington St., 2nd Floor
Ottawa, ONT K1A OA6
Phone: 613-992-4211
Fax: 613-941-6900

Premier Brian Tobin
Government of Newfoundland
P.O. Box 8700
Confederation Building
St. John's, Newfoundland A1B 4J6
Fax: 709-729-5875

Innu Nation
P.O. Box 119
Sheshatsiu, Labrador, Canada A0P 1M0
Phone: 709-497-8398
Fax: 709-497-8396
es051322orion.yorku.ca
WWW Site: http://www.web.apc.org/innu

Algonquins of Barriere Lake Up-Date

After many years of protests and blockades, in 1991 the Algonquins
of Barriere Lake entered into a Trilateral Agreement with the
Canadian Federal government and the Quebec Provincial government
the purpose of which was to develop an integrated resource
management plan (IRMP) for the traditional Barriere Lake territory.
In Canada such "agreements" to talk are frequently only a
government tactic for defusing public protest while proceeding with
resource exploitation activity.

The timetable for completion and implementation of the IRMP was
March 31, 1996. Tensions predictably grew as the date for
completion of the IRMP approached. Real participation of the
Barriere Lake Algonquins in resource management of their
traditional area would limit forestry in the Barriere Lake
territory. Failure to reach agreement on real participation of the
Barriere Lake Algonquins threatened a return to undesirable
protests and blockades.

Forever inventive Canadian government and their cronies in
transnational resource exploitation companies found a third way to
deal with the Algonquins of Barriere Lake. The Federal Minister of
Indian Affairs simply deposed the Barriere Lake Chief and Council
by fiat, replaced them with an obviously sponsored "interim
council" and appointed a Federal "financial officer" to take over
and administer Band affairs. The Quebec Provincial government then
made clear its complicity in deposition of the Barriere Lake Chief
and Council by immediately announcing that it would recognize the
new "interim council" for purposes of forestry negotiations.

The Federal Indian Affairs Minister based his blatantly
colonialistic actions on a petition signed by 150 "dissidents" who
claimed that the Barriere Lake Chief and Council didn't represent
them. Reminiscent of similar petitions earlier concocted by agents
of the Federal government in on-going efforts to undermine Lubicon
leadership, many of the people whose names appear on the petition
were put on the Barriere Lake membership list by the Federal
government under C-31 revisions to the Indian Act. Only 49 of the
people signing the petition even live on the Barriere Lake reserve.
Many have never set foot on the Barriere Lake reserve. Some of the
signatures on the petition were collected from people living as far
afield as New York, Pennsylvania and California.

Also reminiscent of the Lubicon situation, the Barriere Lake
"dissidents" were represented by the same big, expensive Winnipeg
law firm that represents a major Quebec-based logging company
called Domtar. Domtar holds one of the largest timber contracts in
the Barriere Lake area.

In addition the Barriere Lake "dissident" group is represented by
a big, expensive international PR firm called Hill and Knowlton.
Among other things Hill and Knowlton represented the Kuwait
government going into the Gulf War. Hill and Knowlton was
reportedly hired by the Federal Indian Affairs Minister at a cost
of $18,000 Canadian to prepare "PR materials" for the "dissident"
group. The "PR materials" prepared for the Barriere Lake dissident
group use the same format as earlier anti-Lubicon propaganda
materials distributed by the previous Conservative Federal
government.

Another of Hill and Knowlton's clients is a Tokyo-based forestry
company called Daishowa. Daishowa owns the hardwood timber
rights to a huge 29,000 sq. km. part of northern Alberta which
completely blankets the traditional 10,000 sq. km. territory of the
Lubicon Cree. Daishowa has been at odds with the Lubicons since
1988 over clear-cut logging of traditional Lubicon lands and is
currently using the Canadian Courts to enjoin Lubicon supporters
from boycotting Daishowa paper products unless Daishowa agrees to
stay out of the unceded Lubicon territory pending settlement of
Lubicon land rights and agreement with the Lubicons respecting
Lubicon wildlife and environmental concerns.

The people of Barriere Lake rejected rule by the Federally imposed
"interim council" and refused to accept services from this puppet
regime. The Federal government consequently sought and obtained
a court injunction enjoining the people of Barriere Lake from
interfering with delivery of services by their "interim council".

The people of Barriere Lake responded to this first court
injunction by establishing a checkpoint on the only road leading
into the reserve and refused to turn administration of their
community over to the "interim council" established by the Federal
government -- which, unwelcome in the community, is operating out
of a non-Aboriginal community some 150 kms. from the Barriere
Lake reserve. In an effort to create a physical base for their "interim
council" on the Barriere Lake reserve, the Federal government
sought and obtained a second court injunction enjoining the
Barriere Lake people from blockading their own reserve roads,
occupying Band-owned facilities, taking Band records or in any way
being rude to the Federal Indian Affairs Minister or his "interim
council".

These two injunctions obtained by the Federal government are
typically a precursor to police action in Canada. It's the way
government in Canada resolves political disputes with Indigenous
societies under the guise of enforcing the law. If the people of
Barriere Lake continue refusing to accept the effective political
take-over of their community by the government of Canada, they'll
almost certainly be charged with contempt of court and arrested.
In Canada indigenous people aren't arrested for having a political
disagreement with the government. That would expose the carefully
maintained myth that Canada is a country where human rights are
respected and where there's a sincere official concern over
environmental degradation. Indigenous people in Canada are rather
arrested for contempt of court when they refuse to accept arbitrary
imposition of the government's political will.

Deposing the Barriere Lake Chief and Council by fiat represents a
significant escalation over previous government efforts to
overthrow the duly elected Lubicon Chief and Council. At Lubicon
Lake the government first tried to overthrow the Chief and Council
by adding "dissident" members to the Lubicon membership list
under C-31 and using these "dissident" Lubicons to try and defeat
the Lubicon Chief and Council in an election. When the effort to
politically overthrow the Lubicon Chief and Council failed, the
federal government tried to pull Lubicon society apart by using the
same kind of petition used at Barriere Lake to constitute a new
Band out of the so-called "dissidents" and then offering Lubicon
members a number of enticements -- "little bribes" -- to join the
new Band. Variations on these subversive approaches are continuing
at Lubicon Lake where a second Band has now been created and
efforts are currently underway to create a third new Band.

Despite all of these subversive activities on the part of both
levels of Canadian government, Lubicon society under duly elected
Lubicon leadership continues to fight the unbridled pillage of
their lands and abuse of their Indigenous rights. What's being
done at Barriere Lake clearly represents an effort on the part of
Canadian government and their transnational resource exploitation
cronies to directly bring the Barriere Lake people to heel by
simply deposing the Barriere Lake leadership and replacing it with
a more cooperative puppet regime. If they're successful in
defeating Barriere Lake opposition to their pillage of natural
resources by simply deposing Barriere Lake leadership and replacing
it with a more cooperative puppet regime, it's likely that they'll
use the same tactic with Indigenous societies elsewhere in Canada
and a crucial element of the international movement to preserve the
plants, animals and people of the boreal forest would be
emasculated or at least brutally driven underground.

People are urged to write Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien and
demand that the Government of Canada stop intervening in the
internal affairs of the Barriere Lake people but rather work with
Canada's Indigenous peoples to achieve a mutually acceptable
resolution of any differences -- including completion and
implementation of the Integrated Resource Management Plan
envisioned under the Trilateral Agreement. Noted copies should be
sent to Quebec Premier Lucian Bouchard and Chief Jean Maurice
Matchewan. Additional information on the struggle of the Barriere
Lake people is available from Russell Diabo at the address listed
below for Chief Matchewan.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien
Langevin Block
80 Wellington St., 2nd Floor
Ottawa, ONT K1A OA6
Phone: 613-992-4211
Fax: 613-941-6900

Premier Lucian Bouchard
Government of Quebec
885 Grande Allee, Building J
Quebec City, Quebec G1A 1A2
Phone: 418-643-5321
Fax: 418-643-3924

Chief Jean Maurice Matchewan
Nahwegahbow/Nadjiwan
408 Queen Street
Ottawa, ONT K1R 5A7
Fax: 613-233-3116

Lubicon Cree Up-Date

In 1978 the Alberta Provincial government completed construction
of an all weather road into the unceded Lubicon territory opening it
up for resource exploitation activity. Dozens of oil companies
moved into the area starting in the winter of 1979-80.

Between 1979 and 1983 over 400 oil wells were drilled within a 40
km. radius of the traditional Lubicon community of Little Buffalo
Lake. The impact of this intense resource exploitation activity in
the unceded Lubicon territory has been horrific on the land, the
animals and the people.

After studying the Lubicon situation the World Council of Churches
charged that the actions of the Alberta government and the oil
companies could have "genocidal consequences" for the Lubicon
people. The Human Rights Committee of the United Nations
considered the Lubicon situation and found Canadian treatment of
the Lubicons to violate the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights.

In February of 1988 the Alberta Provincial government announced
construction of a giant new bleached kraft pulp mill to be built
just to the west of the unceded Lubicon territory by a Japanese
forestry company called Daishowa. The new pulp mill would
transform 13,000 trees a day into 1,200 metric tonnes of dehydrated
pulp. The number of trees the new pulp mill would consume a year
would fill a wood lot the size of a football field to a height of
221 metres -- the height of a 72 story skyscraper. It was soon
learned that the trees to supply the new pulp mill would come from
a huge 29,000 sq. km. area which completely blankets the 10,000 sq.
km. traditional Lubicon territory.

News that the Alberta government had sold the trees from unceded
Lubicon land to a Japanese forestry company met with nation-wide
protests. Officials of Daishowa responded by requesting a meeting
with the Lubicons. In March of 1988 officials of Daishowa agreed
to stay out of the unceded Lubicon territory until there's a
settlement of Lubicon land rights and an agreement negotiated with
the Lubicon people respecting Lubicon wildlife and environmental
concerns. On the basis of that agreement the nation-wide protests
were called off.

In August of 1990 Daishowa tried to send in sub-contractors and a
wholly-owned Daishowa subsidiary called Brewster Construction to
clear-cut Lubicon trees claiming that these sub-contractors and the
wholly-owned Daishowa subsidiary weren't covered by Daishowa's
agreement with the Lubicons. When that tack failed Daishowa
claimed that these sub-contractors and Daishowa's wholly-owned
subsidiary weren't sub-contractors at all but independent
contractors obligated by the Provincial government to provide
timber to Daishowa. Next Daishowa claimed that the agreement with
the Lubicons only covered so-called "new areas" and that the areas
they were proposing to log had all supposedly been logged
previously by small scale logging operations. Then Daishowa
claimed that the agreement with the Lubicons only covered a 246 sq.
km. proposed Lubicon reserve area not delineated until months after
the March 1988 agreement with Daishowa was made.

In October of 1990 two Daishowa-related companies commenced
clear- cut logging in unceded Lubicon territory. Shortly thereafter a
logging camp belonging to one of them was torched ending clear-cut
logging in the unceded Lubicon territory that season. Thirteen
Lubicons have been charged but not convicted of the raid on the
logging camp.

In April of 1991 Daishowa started denying that there'd ever been an
agreement with the Lubicons claiming that all Daishowa did in the
March 1988 meeting was explain to the Lubicons the provisions
contained in the 20 year Forest Management Agreement between
Daishowa and the Alberta Provincial government. The Lubicons
responded by asking people to boycott Daishowa paper products
until Daishowa makes a clear, firm and unequivocal public
commitment to stay out of the unceded Lubicon territory pending
settlement of Lubicon land rights and negotiation of an agreement
with the Lubicons respecting Lubicon wildlife and environmental
concerns.

A Toronto-based support group called the Toronto Friends of the
Lubicon carried primary responsibility for organizing the Lubicon
boycott of Daishowa paper products. Since Daishowa sells its paper
products to companies rather than to individual consumers, the
boycott was directed at companies using Daishowa paper products.
Stores were asked not to purchase Daishowa paper products and
people were asked not to patronize stores that continued using
Daishowa paper products. Largely as a result of the efforts of the
Toronto Friends of the Lubicon, 47 companies representing 4,300
retail outlets across Canada have joined the boycott.

Claiming that the Lubicon boycott had cost them $5 million Canadian
in lost sales and that they were losing money at the rate of $3
million Canadian a year, in 1995 Daishowa asked the Canadian courts
to enjoin the Lubicon boycott, or, more specifically, to enjoin the
Toronto Friends from asking people not to patronize stores which
use Daishowa paper products. Daishowa is also suing individual
Toronto Friends for damages to compensate Daishowa for the millions
of dollars which Daishowa claims to have lost as a result of the
boycott.

Daishowa's lawsuit is part of an ominous new development in civil
litigation called SLAPP suits. SLAPP is an acronym for Strategic
Lawsuit Against Public Participation. One U.S. judge recently
defined SLAPP suits as "suits without substantial merit brought by
private interests to stop citizens from exercising their political
rights or to punish them from having done so". Daishowa's legal
action fits this definition of SLAPP suits to a tee.

Daishowa lawyers sought and obtained a court order shutting down
the boycott pending the injunction hearing, or, in other words,
Daishowa was successful in having the court shut down the boycott
before the merits of the case were even heard. The court then
declined to grant Daishowa an injunction on the merits but
Daishowa appealed that decision and sought another court order
shutting down the boycott pending the hearing of the appeal --
which was also granted, or, in other words, Daishowa again managed
to shut down the boycott despite having lost the injunction
application. Daishowa was then successful on appeal in obtaining
an interim injunction shutting down the boycott pending the hearing
of another Daishowa injunction application this time requesting a
permanent injunction of the Lubicon boycott.

The Toronto Friends are seeking leave to appeal the interim
injunction and preparing to argue the application for the permanent
injunction, which is the main action asking the court to find
individual members of the Toronto Friends liable for huge financial
damages incurred by Daishowa as a result of the boycott. The bottom
line in all of this complicated, convoluted legal manoeuvring is of
course that the Toronto Friends are being legally prevented from
working on the boycott and are being forced instead to spend all
their time and efforts dealing with various aspects of the lawsuit
and with fund-raising to cover legal costs. The question of
financial damages hangs over their head like a sword of Damocles.

Daishowa's Director of Corporate Development Tom Cochran publicly
denied that the Daishowa legal action is a SLAPP suit. He said
"Daishowa does not object to boycotts per se -- they object to
boycotts which inflict economic damage to the company". Referring
to the 100 jobs at a Daishowa subsidiary which makes paper bags,
Mr. Cochran said "The Friends of the Lubicon think the livelihood
of a hundred families is worth sacrificing for giving some Indians
some land rights".

Noting that Daishowa's timber lease in Alberta is three times the
size of the entire traditional Lubicon territory, Lubicon Chief
Bernard Ominayak responded to Mr. Cochran's inane remarks by
pointing out that jobs aren't at risk because of the boycott of
Daishowa paper products. The Chief said "Jobs are at risk because
Daishowa refuses to make an unequivocal commitment to stay out of
unceded Lubicon territory until Lubicon land rights are settled".
The Chief said "All Daishowa has to do for the boycott to be called
off is to make that commitment".

Toronto Friends spokesman Kevin Thomas responded more sharply
to Mr. Cochran by pointing out "What's really at issue here is
whether Canadians want to support the theft of unceded Indian
lands and resources and the destruction of an indigenous society
simply to enhance the profits of a Japanese multinational
corporation".

Just as it will be a terrible precedent if Canadian government and
their transnational resource exploitation cronies are allowed to
get away with deposing indigenous leaders who oppose their
unbridled pillage of natural resources in Canada, it will be a
terrible precedent if Daishowa, known to be working closely with
the Alberta Provincial government and a major U.S. based oil
company with interests in the Lubicon area called Unocal, is
successful in using Canadian law and the Canadian courts to silence
Canadian critics of their actions in Canada. Again as in the
Barriere Lake case, a crucial element in the international movement
to preserve the plants, animals and people of the boreal forest
would effectively be emasculated or at least brutally driven
underground.

People are asked to write Daishowa Executive Vice President Tom
Hamaoka indicating support for an international boycott of Daishowa
paper products and demanding that Daishowa immediately drop its
legal harassment of the Toronto Friends of the Lubicon. Noted
copies should be sent to Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak.
Additional information on the plight of the Lubicon can be obtained
from the Lubicon Edmonton office noted below.

Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
3536 - 106 Street
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6J 1A4
Phone: 403-436-5652
Fax: 403-437-0719
e-mail: lubiconfreenet.edmonton.ab.ca
www net page: http://bioc02.uthscsa.edu/gst/nl/lubicon.html

Mr. Tom Hamaoka
Executive Vice President
Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd.
Suite 3500 - Park Place
666 Burrard Street
Vancouver, B.C. V6C 2X8
Phone: (604) 684-4326
Fax: (604) 681-8659
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