Unchecked Oil and Gas Development Continues to Threaten Lubicon Cree, Despite U.N. Condemnation

Amnesty International  invites all concerned people, from Canada and elsewhere, to participate in the “20 Days of Action for the Lubicon Cree” March 20 – April 10. The Lubicon Cree have been left out of any negotiations with the  Canadian federal government since 1899, when they were overlooked at the time other First Nations in the region negotiated a treaty with the Government of Canada. As a result of this oversight, the Lubicon Cree have never given up their rights to their lands and resources yet at the same time, their legal rights have never been formally recognized. In this limbo, they have tried and failed to negotiate with the federal government, with the last round of negotiations ending without an agreement in 2003. Currently, the Lubicon have no reserve and have been denied any say in the management of their territory. That territory is rich in oil and natural gas and over the last 30 years, the provincial government has allowed oil companies to drill more than 2600 wells on it. The Amnesty International website states:

Twenty years ago – on March 26, 1990 – the United Nations Human Rights Committee condemned Canada for violating the rights of the Lubicon Cree of northern Alberta.

After an extensive review of the evidence, this UN body concluded that the failure to recognize Lubicon rights to their lands — and to protect these lands from the environmental impacts of intensive oil and gas development — had led to “historic” and “ongoing” violations of human rights. Rights that Canada is legally bound to protect under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Twenty years later, it seems that the only thing that has changed is the number of oil wells. Currently, there are five times more oil and gas installations than Lubicon people on their traditional territory, with more being licensed all the time.  And despite a promise to the U.N. that it would resolve the Lubicon land dispute, the Government of Canada continues to ignore issues that are crucial to the health and human rights of the Lubicon Cree. This shameful behavior on the part of the Alberta and Canadian governments has been allowed to go on for far too long. It is a dark stain Canada’s human rights record, as these quotes from members of the Lubicon nation demonstrate:

If you look in the dictionary when they mention “cultural genocide” that word describes what is transpiring here.

There are no human rights here – they don’t exist. The proof is in our graveyards.”

“Out of 21 pregnancies, there were 19 stillbirths.”


Ideas for the “20 days of Action for the Lubicon Cree” include sending postcards in support of the Lubicon, contacting your MP, or uploading a picture showing your concern.  Click here for the A.I. action page where you can send Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach an email, or Prime Minister Stephen Harper, or download a petition that you can circulate among friends and colleagues.

And just a reminder that Bill C311, The Climate Accountability Act, is making its way through the House of Commons for its third vote in April.  Members of Parliament need to be reminded that Canadians care about this – click here to go to the Council of Canadians website to send an email to all the party leaders (or better yet, phone them), and spread the word!  Canada could become a leader instead of a laggard on climate change if this bill passes.

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