Original Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org
10 July 1995
Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
July 10, 1995
On June 22, 1995 formation of another Lubicon dissident group was announced at a press conference called by a Calgary "publicist" named Wayne Bill. Mr. Bill is part of a Calgary "communications group" headed by a man named Thompson MacDonald. In addition to representing the newly announced dissident group Mr. MacDonald is closely linked to Conservative Alberta politicians and is Alberta Premier Ralph Klein's top media advisor.
This newly announced dissident group is in fact not new at all but rather consists of basically the same people involved in the so-called Laboucan family initiative described in the March 20, 1994 mail-out. The first Laboucan family initiative collapsed early in 1994 when the then new Liberal Federal government refused to provide the Woodland Band with additional lands and money to cover promises made to members of the Laboucan family as inducements to join the Woodland Band and the Woodland Band refused to accept the members of the Laboucan family unless they were provided with additional lands and money.
The official spokesman for the newly announced dissident group is a member of the same family as that involved in the first Laboucan family initiative named Billy Joe Laboucan. Billy Joe Laboucan has been largely absent from the Lubicon territory for about 15 years returning only periodically until December of 1993 when he showed up with a pre-negotiated contract between the Lubicons and Federal Manpower providing funds for the Lubicons to hire him as an "Employment Assistance Coordinator". Billy Joe Laboucan's reappearance in the Lubicon territory coincided with the onset of the first Laboucan family initiative. Despite known political developments and differences -- as well as the unusual way the proposed Federal Manpower contract was presented to them -- Lubicon Chief and Council agreed to sign the funding agreement and hire Billy Joe Laboucan as an "Employment Assistance Coordinator".
Following the collapse of the first Laboucan family initiative Billy Joe Laboucan announced his intention to run against Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak. His candidacy was supported by basically the same people who'd been involved in the first Laboucan family initiative. Notably he continued to work for the Lubicon Chief and Council during the election campaign and for a month after the election when he voluntarily resigned and went to work for the Woodland Band.
After making a speech about the importance of solidarity whoever won the election Billy Joe Laboucan lost the election for Chief and immediately began efforts to try and overturn the election results. Unable to find grounds to challenge the election results Billy Joe Laboucan has now become the spokesman for the newly announced Lubicon dissident group. People who know Billy Joe Laboucan and his family doubt this current effort to tear the Lubicon society asunder is any more of an indigenous effort than creation of the Woodland Cree or the first Laboucan family initiative.
Laboucan family initiative II was announced the week before a new round of negotiations was scheduled to commence between the Lubicons and the Canadian Federal government. This type of dramatic stunt is something which has been pulled on several previous occasions by agents of the Alberta Provincial Government. Obviously unrestrained by any traditional notions of decency, integrity or honour these people have proven time and time again that they are capable of anything in their single- minded determination to wipe the Lubicon society off the face of the earth.
Attached for your information are copies of self-explanatory media coverage and other materials related to the newly announced Lubicon dissident group.
REACTION OF LUBICON CHIEF AND COUNCIL TO 6-22-95 WAYNE BILL PRESS CONFERENCE ON "WHAT THE MAJORITY OF THE LUBICON CREE BAND (SUPPOSEDLY) WANTS"
On June 21, 1995 a self-described Calgary "publicist" named Wayne Bill sent out a press notice inviting members of the media to attend a press conference at the plush Edmonton Hilton to supposedly "hear the real story about what the majority of the Lubicon Cree Band wants". This press conference clearly heralds the onset of a major new assault on Lubicon society and the timing isn't coincidental. After months of delay hopefully productive settlement negotiations with the Federal government were scheduled to commence the following week.
Wayne Bill refused to identify the people who'd recruited him to arrange the press conference. Initially he told reporters that he'd been recruited by Edmonton lawyers Karen Trace and John Gill. They denied recruiting him. Mr. Bill then told reporters it was none of their business who recruited him. Interestingly Mr. Bill did not even try to claim that he was recruited by the people on whose behalf he said he had called the press conference.
Wayne Bill is known to be closely linked to the ruling Provincial Conservative Party. He's part of the Thompson MacDonald Communications Group. Thompson MacDonald is Alberta Premier Ralph Klein's top media advisor and Mr. Bill is part of the "unit" that does extensive public relations work for the Klein government. Messrs. Bill, MacDonald and Klein have a long association going back to at least the early 70s when Ralph Klein was a reporter for Calgary news station CFCN, Wayne Bill was CFCN News Director and Thompson MacDonald was Director of News and Public Affairs for CFCN.
Informed about the press conference by members of the media -- but knowing nothing else about it -- duly elected Council members of the Lubicon Nation decided to attend the press conference to find out what it was all about. Council members were met at the door and barred from entering by failed candidate for Lubicon Chief Billy Joe Laboucan and Edmonton lawyer John Gill who claimed that the widely advertised "press conference" was a "private meeting". After some heated discussion in front of a growing number of interested reporters Messrs. Gill and Laboucan begrudgingly agreed to let duly elected members of the Lubicon Council attend the "press conference" and hear what the "majority of the Lubicon Cree Band (supposedly) wants".
Edmonton lawyer Karen Trace introduced the press conference. She also introduced Billy Joe Laboucan and a professionally prepared video contrasting dilapidated housing and other facilities in the Lubicon community of Little Buffalo Lake to new housing and facilities in the Woodland community of Cadotte Lake. Ms. Trace described Billy Joe Laboucan as "interim elected spokesman" for a group of Lubicon dissidents whom she claimed "represents 2/3 of the Lubicon Nation". Billy Joe Laboucan then narrated the video saying the people he represents "hope to do the same thing" as the Woodland Cree Band.
The Lubicons already knew that a group of people including Billy Joe Laboucan are somehow involved with top Klein media advisor Thompson MacDonald. Last March 9th Federal negotiator Harold Millican advised Lubicon leaders that Mr. Thompson MacDonald will be representing what Mr. Millican called "The Billy Joe Laboucan faction".
Mr. MacDonald has no known experience in the area of aboriginal land rights. His background is media manipulation on behalf of senior Conservative Alberta politicians. While News and Public Affairs Director at CFCN he was publicly accused of being little more than a political propagandist for then Conservative Provincial Premier Peter Lougheed. Since leaving CFCN Mr. MacDonald has helped manage the political campaigns of at least two senior Conservative politicians closely associated with Mr. Lougheed. Mr. Lougheed is in turn closely associated with Calgary oil companies who have extensive interests in the unceded Lubicon territory -- as is the current Conservative Klein Provincial government.
Why anybody would hire a professional political propagandist from Calgary to supposedly represent aboriginal people from northern Alberta pursuing negotiation of their aboriginal land rights is an interesting question. It's not likely to discuss things about which Mr. MacDonald knows little such as economic development or community infrastructure but rather to do what he does know how to do -- which is to create purposeful public illusions. An even more interesting question is how poor aboriginal people from northern Alberta supposedly interested in pursuing negotiation of their aboriginal land rights would even encounter a top level political wheeler-dealer like Thompson MacDonald; why they would want to hire him and why he would agree to work for them.
Neither Ms. Trace nor Billy Joe Laboucan mentioned in their presentations that Billy Joe Laboucan has been largely absent from the Lubicon area for the last 15 years, that he returned in the fall of 1993 immediately prior to the so-called Laboucan family initiative, that he ran for Lubicon Chief a year ago last May or that he lost the election for Chief by a resounding 2/3 plurality. They didn't indicate how Billy Joe Laboucan had somehow gone from representing 1/3 of the Lubicons a little over a year ago to supposedly representing 2/3 of the Lubicons now. Nor could they explain to reporters the basis for their claim that Billy Joe Laboucan now "represents 2/3 of the Lubicon Nation".
Asked by reporters about the basis of his claim that he represented 2/3 of the Lubicons Billy Joe Laboucan admitted "I don't know the math on that". He said "You should be able to find out from the Lubicons".
Ms. Trace tried to help Billy Joe Laboucan out but couldn't do much better. "It comes from our calculations", she said. "As far as we can gauge", she said, "it's about 2/3". She said the 2/3 claim can't be substantiated because "(Chief Ominayak) is never prepared to release membership numbers" (which is neither true nor even particularly relevant since Ms. Trace and Billy Joe Laboucan are making quite specific claims supposedly based on something other than figures pulled out of the air).
Having earlier explored the possibility of an election challenge on behalf of Billy Joe Laboucan and concluding that there were no grounds -- as well as likely knowing very well that Billy Joe Laboucan would receive no more votes for Lubicon Chief now than he did a year ago -- Ms. Trace tried to suggest that the situation is not one of losing a democratic election and the democratic principle of majority rule but is somehow analogous to a "divorce" and the division of jointly owned property. She said "We're now at the separation stage". She said "Pending this formal division we have asked the Minister to make room at the negotiating table". She threatened "We've given notice that no settlement will be legal or enforceable without participation of this group".
During the "press conference" and afterwards Billy Joe Laboucan continued this divorce analogy by talking about "irreconcilable differences" among the Lubicons. Propaganda materials distributed at the "press conference" also use this same phrase - - "irreconcilable differences" -- clearly in an effort to try and gain public acceptance of the notion that what's involved is somehow analogous to a "separation", "divorce" and "division" of jointly held property.
Referring to the election for Chief which Billy Joe Laboucan lost a reporter asked "Can this be described as sour grapes?" Billy Joe Laboucan denied his efforts to divide the Lubicon society is due to his losing the election. He said "We don't have a problem with (Chief Ominayak's) leadership for the Lubicons". He said "But we want our own group and our own leadership". He said "We can share the land, share the resources, but we want our own administration". He said "We want our own political process".
Still later during the press conference Ms. Trace explicitly stated that Billy Joe Laboucan and the people she and he represent "are not fighting over the election". Rather, she said, "They don't want to rule (Chief Ominayak's) supporters". She said "They don't want (Chief Ominayak's) supporters to rule them".
Ms. Trace would be laughed out of town if she proposed that Provincial lands and resources be divided between the duly elected Provincial government and the people who lost the last Provincial election simply because the losers don't want to be "ruled" by the Klein government. However that's the proper analogy -- not some strained, goofy analogy with separation, divorce and division of jointly owned property. Even attempting to argue such an phoney analogy makes clear how very little respect Ms. Trace and her colleagues have for the right of aboriginal people to be self-governing.
Following the "press conference" a story appeared on the news wire service entitled "IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES SEPARATE CHIEF OMINAYAK FROM TWO THIRDS OF HIS PEOPLE". Among other things this article flatly asserts is that "The group represent(s) two thirds of the people Chief Ominayak purports to represent". It quotes Billy Joe Laboucan as supposedly saying that "Chief Ominayak only has 87 supporters left of the original 477 (at the time of Grimshaw)...(that)... 150 have joined the Woodland Cree Band, 40 have joined the Loon Band and 200 have now signed the application to form the new Little Buffalo Cree Band". Notably the news wire story doesn't say where such dubious and normally confidential membership information comes from. Billy Joe Laboucan had of course already publicly indicated that he doesn't know what the numbers attributed to him are all about. And if Ms. Trace knows something Billy Joe Laboucan doesn't know she isn't admitting it.) Suspicious about such blatant political propaganda dressed up to look like a supposedly objective news story -- a tactic which the Lubicons have seen used before by people working for the Alberta Provincial government -- the Lubicon people checked out the origin of this news wire story. Unlike most wire service stories which are written by reporters working for legitimate news organizations hoping to have their work run by other news outlets, this story is unattributed and was put on the wire "directly". Direct access to the news wire is not standard operating procedure for poor northern bush Indians any more than is hiring a fancy Calgary "publicist" to call a press conference on their behalf held in an expensive Edmonton hotel complete with professionally prepared video, catered refreshments and a couple of slick, big city Edmonton lawyers.
Lastly we would like to comment on a number of things which Ms. Trace and Billy Joe Laboucan said during the "press conference" and in subsequent media interviews which simply aren't true. Those things include:
Lubicon people don't lie naturally, easily or well. It's not part of our culture, our history or the normal experience of our people. Left to sort out our own problems it's impossible to imagine anything like this ever happening.
There's no doubt that what's going on is being instigated and orchestrated by outsiders. Clearly the Lubicon people are not being left to sort out our own problems on our own but some of our more vulnerable, weaker members are being used by wealthy, powerful vested interests to again try and tear our society to pieces so that they can steal our valuable lands and resources.
We ask that our right to determine our own leadership by democratic means be respected. We ask that the people of the world support our right to be self-determining in our own land. We ask that both levels of Canadian government deal with our democratically elected leadership and not try to play our democratically elected leadership off against people who have not been democratically elected. We ask both levels of Canadian government to refuse to participate in the offensive colonialistic divide and conquer tactics which they publicly decry. We ask no more for ourselves than any other people need to survive as a distinct society.
Finally we ask that people concerned about the survival of the Lubicons as a distinct society to communicate their views to both levels of Canadian government and everybody associated with this latest despicable effort to tear Lubicon society to pieces.
For more information contact Lubicon Lake Indian Nation, 403-629- 3945 or 403-436-5652.
June 22, 1995 Press conference of the Little Buffalo Cree Nation
The press conference was called yesterday by Calgary "publicist" Wayne Bill. Bill said he was calling the press conference for representatives of the media "to hear the real story about what the majority of the Lubicon Cree wants". He declined to name the people who'd engaged him to call the press conference.
Informed of the press conference by reporters, but otherwise knowing nothing about it, members of the duly elected Lubicon Council determined to attend the press conference to hear "what the majority of the Lubicon Cree wants". Chief Ominayak had a family medical crisis which prevented him from attending the press conference.
The press conference was held in the plush surroundings of the Angus Shaw room at the Edmonton Hilton complete with catered refreshments. Elected Lubicon Council were met at the door by Billy Joe Laboucan and lawyer John Gill who told them "it's a private meeting and you can't come in".
Fred Lennarson pointed out the event was not a "private meeting" but an advertised press conversation supposedly to present "what the majority of the Lubicon Cree Band want". He pointed out further that the people being barred entry are the duly elected Council of the Lubicon Cree only trying to find out what was being presented supposedly on behalf of their constituents.
Billy Joe Laboucan told Fred Lennarson "You had your chance to tell your side of the story". He said "Now it's our chance". He repeated "It's a private meeting and you can't come in".
Fred Lennarson said he thought refusing entry to the duly elected Lubicon Council to a press conference billed as presenting "what the majority of the Lubicon Cree Band want" was going to make an interesting headline.
With reporters gathering around to witness the exchange Wayne Bill intervened and said "you can stay if you don't disrupt the meeting".
Dwight Gladue said "We're not here to disrupt but to listen".
A few minutes later lawyer Karen Trace asked people to sit down so the press conference could begin. She stood at a podium throughout the press conference. Billy Joe Laboucan sat at a table to her left. There was a large TV video screen to Billy Joe's left.
Karen Trace said "We have an Elders' statement". She said "We have a video". She said "We can provide you with an opportunity to visit Little Buffalo -- to see how people live there compared to people living down the road at Cadotte Lake". She said "It's quite a comparison".
"At the end of the presentation", Karen Trace said, "there will be an opportunity for questions".
Karen Trace said "We want to set the context". She said "Basically it's included in the press release".
Karen Trace said "The group represents 2/3 of the Lubicon Nation". She said "We have to tell you about an unfortunate divorce situation". She said "We're now at the separation stage".
Karen Trace said "We have submitted an application for a formal Band division in February of this year". She said "We know that land negotiations are about to begin". She said "Pending this formal division we have asked the Minister to make room at the negotiating table". She said "We've given notice that no settlement will be legal or enforceable without participation of this group".
Karen Trace said "I now want to introduce the interim elected spokesman for the group -- Billy Joe Laboucan". She said "I also want to introduce Mike Ominayak and Michael Laboucan". She said "I also want to introduce Elder Edward Laboucan and his wife Josephine". She said "Edward's statement is included in the press statement". She said "And I want to introduce key Elder James Ominayak sitting beside him (Edward)".
Billy Joe Laboucan said "I want to thank all of you for being here -- even the last people to come in". He said "After all, we're in this together".
Billy Joe said "I want to let people know there is a division". He said "Formal application has been made to the Minister".
Pursuing the divorce analogy Billy Joe said "There are irreconcilable differences in Little Buffalo". He said "They have left a lot of us out from participating in the political process in Little Buffalo".
Billy Joe said "We're not here to impede negotiations". He said "We are here to help speed up the process".
Billy Joe said "As you can see in the video we're about to show you you'll see conditions in Little Buffalo".
A professionally prepared video complete with musical sound track entitled "Life in Little Buffalo" was then shown with Billy Joe narrating it.
Billy Joe said "First we have Edward's house". He said "That's the water supply". He said that's the outdoor toilet and you can imagine sitting on those things there in 40 below weather". He said "It's not very pleasant". He said "The laundry is done outside or in Peace River".
He said "There's the house of Barbara Ominayak". He said "There are the bedrooms of her children". He said "One of her sons has a respiratory problem". He said "Another has a skin condition". He said "They are both treated in Peace River".
He said "There one of my mother's sons lives in a house that's 16 years old". He said "No renovations have been done on it".
Billy Joe said "Down the road is Cadotte Lake". He said "Now we have a new Band Administration building where they employ their local people". He said "Here are the Council Chambers where decisions are made with the involvement of the people". He said "Here's the new K to 12 school".
Billy Joe said "Here are some of the houses -- an old house and a new (bi-level) house". He said "The new houses have all new facilities". He said "This house has bedrooms with no mildew". He said "They have facilities everybody else takes for granted".
Billy Joe said "Here is the water truck which trucks water to Little Buffalo". He said "Here is the new fire hall with a fire truck". He said "Here is a new building which employs Band members".
Billy Joe said "Here is construction of another building `with the community'". He said "That's the motto". He said "We hope to do the same thing".
Billy Joe said "If you have any questions to ask my father or any of the other Elders we can translate".
A reporter asked "What about the Lubicons -- how many of them are left?"
Billy Joe said "There are 263 on our list".
A reporter asked "How long have you been working on this?"
Billy Joe said "The problem of not being able to work together has been going on for some time -- especially over the past year".
A reporter asked "Can this be described as sour grapes?"
Billy Joe said "No, there has been a decision and a long process to this point".
Billy Joe said "We don't have a problem with Bernard's leadership for the Lubicons". He said "But we want our own group and our own leadership". He said "That's the whole exercise for this". He said "And as I said, you know, we can, you know, share the land, share the resources, but you know, we want our own administration". He said "We want our own political process".
A reporter asked "If you don't have a problem with Bernard's leadership what is the problem?"
Billy Joe said "The problem is we have no participation in the process for the past year". He said "We haven't been invited to participate in any gatherings or social functions".
A reporter asked "Are you hoping to follow the same process as the Woodland"?
Billy Joe said "We hope for a speedy, equitable settlement and process".
A reporter asked "How can it be speedy with two groups?"
Billy Joe said "If you look back you see other groups, the Woodland Band, the Loon River Band and most recently our group".
A reporter asked "What has been the response to your application?"
Billy Joe said "We have had responses and hope to have other responses".
A reporter asked "Have they turned you down?"
Billy Joe said "They haven't exactly turned us down". He said "It's an on-going process". He said "They told us to go back to the community but that has come to a halt". He said "This is the next step". He said "The application is to tell people what's going on".
A reporter asked "If the government doesn't talk what are you going to do?"
Billy Joe said "We'll cross that bridge when we come to that".
A reporter asked "What is the name of your group?"
Billy Joe said "We call ourselves the Little Buffalo Cree Nation."
A reporter asked "Why can't you participate in Little Buffalo?"
Billy Joe said "They have their social activities and we have our others".
A reporter asked "How many Lubicons are left?"
Billy Joe said "You'll have to go back to the Lubicon leadership for that".
A reporter told Billy Joe "You said you represent 2/3 of the Lubicons". She asked "What's the basis for that?"
Billy Joe said "I don't know what the math is on that". He said "You should be able to find out from the Lubicons".
A reporter asked "Who represents you".
Billy Joe said "Karen Trace and John Gill".
A reporter asked "When did you contact Mr. (Wayne) Bill"?
Billy Joe said "Everything our group has done has been done on our own initiative".
A reporter asked "Who gave you Mr. Bill's name"?
Billy Joe said "Various contacts".
A reporter asked "Who"? y Billy Joe said "Part of it was the legal group, part of it was our own research".
A reporter asked "Have you received any help from Mike Cardinal"?
Billy Joe said "No".
A reporter asked "Is Mr. Cardinal aware of what you're doing"?
Billy Joe said "We sent the press release to him for information purposes".
A reporter said "It has been suggested that Mr. Bill is politically related to Premier Klein's chief media advisor".
Billy Joe said "We have our own research". He said "People can suggest what they please".
A reporter asked "Did you work through you MLA"?
Billy Joe said "I believe some people talked to her earlier last year".
A reporter asked "Do you expect a positive response from the Province"?
Billy Joe said "I hope so".
A reporter asked "How are you paying for all of this"?
Billy Joe said "Loans from the family".
A reporter asked "How much are you paying these people"?
Billy Joe said "Very reasonable rates".
A reporter asked "How much"?
Billy Joe said "Very reasonable".
Karen Trace said "I can give you my fees afterward".
A reporter said "If the government wants to undermine the Lubicons one way could be divide and conquer". He asked "What do you say about that"?
Billy Joe said "This whole process is our own initiative and it hasn't been, you know, taken from Provincial or Federal tactics". He said "You know, it's something we feel we have to do to improve the conditions for ourselves and our children". He said "We don't want to disrupt the process". He said "We want to speed up the process".
A reporter said "Presumably what you're doing undermines the negotiating position of the Lubicons".
Billy Joe said "It may or may not". He said "We want to be part of the negotiating table". He said "We will see".
A reporter said "You want negotiation for two Bands". He asked "How can that be simpler"?
Billy Joe said "It's got to be an on-going process". He said "That's why we made the application".
A reporter asked "Do you want two sets of negotiations"?
Billy Joe said "It could be a combined effort or separate".
Karen Trace said "It's an on-going process". She said "That's the best way to do it". She said "I want to call your attention to Edward's statement, particularly that part on Grimshaw". She said "We just want to get on with being reasonable". She said "I call your attention to Edward's statement".
Billy Joe said "We want a settlement". He said "It's been dragging on for a long time". He said "We've got elderly people like my father who would like to see a settlement before they die".
Billy Joe said "Anytime support groups come to Little Buffalo we never get to see them". He said "We approached these people but they didn't talk to us". He said "They didn't have time". He said "They were catching a plane". He said "I guess they tried to call back".
A reporter asked "Are you contemplating legal action such as at Long Lake"?
Billy Joe said "It's kind of an on-going process". He said "We'll have to make a decision at that time".
Karen Trace said "Long Lake is an election dispute". She said "These people are not fighting over the election". She said "They don't want to rule Bernard's supporters". She said "They don't want Bernard's supporters to rule them".
A reporter said "I'm still concerned with the numbers". He said "You claim 2/3 want to leave". He asked "How many people are part of the Lubicon Band"?
Billy Joe said "I would be prepared to share our genealogical information". He said "I don't have it now". He said "We gave it to the Minister". He said "I guess it's all part of the public record".
A reporter asked "Where did you get the 2/3"?
Karen Trace said "It comes from our calculations". She said Bernard is never prepared to release membership numbers". She said "He won't share with anyone". She said "As far as we can gauge it's about 2/3".
A reporter asked "Where do your people come from?"
Billy Joe said "Some from Little Buffalo, some from High Prairie, some from Peace River".
A reporter asked "Are there any C-31s involved"?
Billy Joe said "There are probably C-31s in all Bands in Canada".
The reporter said "That's not an answer".
Billy Joe said "Yes".
Karen Trace asked "Are there any other questions"? She said "If you want to talk to Edward we have translators". She said "Also John Gill and I can answer legal questions".
There being no further questions, Karen Trace ended the press conference by saying "Good Afternoon".
Attachment #3: Wayne Bill Media Notice, June 21, 1995