The Lubicon Lake Nation is a Cree speaking Nation of Indigenous peoples living in our Traditional Territory in what many know as northern Alberta, Canada. Our Nation has occupied our land since time began.

The Lubicon Lake Nation lives in our traditional territory, which looks like a teardrop. On this land we hunt, fish and pursue traditional economies. We also participate in contemporary economic activities within our borders.

The Lubicon Lake Nation is led by a traditional customary governance structure – the same one which has been in place since we emerged from our land. Our governance structure is based upon a leader, a council of head of families, and an Elders’ Council.

The Lubicon Lake Nation has one of the longest unresolved land claims on earth.

The Lubicon Lake Nation is located on our Traditional Territory, which has been called one of the richest resource territories on earth.

Exploitation of our land has damaged our health. Pollution, poor air quality and other impacts caused by rapid resource exploitation have a direct link to respiratory-related concerns and severe health problems (such as cancer and tuberculosis), and stillbirths.

The Lubicon Lake Nation is governed by a Chief, Council representing family heads and an Elders’ Council.

The Lubicon Lake Nation has attempted to engage the Government of Canada in negotiations related to our continuous uninterrupted occupation of our territory. Currently, Canada refuses to negotiate.

“You see, this is what the government is really afraid of. They have no power here, no control, they don’t own this – our minds and souls become so strong, we are reminded with each ceremony that honours all the creations, the animals, the trees, the water, all life, what we are really fighting for. The spirits, the grandfathers, let us know who is really in power.” Walter Whitehead

Walter Whitehead,
pp. 31-32. Dawn J. Hill’s “Lubicon Lake Nation: Spirit of Resistance” (1995).
Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1765.

Walter Whitehead was elected Chief of the Lubicon Lake Nation in the 1970s and still serves as a Councillor and Head of Family today, ensuring that continuity is retained within the Lubicon Lake Nation governance structure.

Oil exploration began in the Lubicon Lake Nation in the early 1980s.

In 1975, former Chief Walter Whitehead attempted to file a caveat with the Alberta Lands Registration Office to protect the Lubicon Lake Nation traditional territory. After this, Alberta amended the Land Titles Act retroactive to 1975 and precluded the Lubicon filing legislatively. Dawn J. Hill

Walter Whitehead,
P. 73-74. Dawn J. Hill’s “Lubicon Lake Nation: Spirit of Resistance” (1995).
Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1765.

The Lubicon Lake Nation commenced an action at the Court of Queen’s Bench in Alberta requesting and interim injunction to halt development until the LLN claim to their land and the resources in their territory was resolved. Two years later, the interim injunction request was denied. Dawn J. Hill

P. 75. Dawn J. Hill’s “Lubicon Lake Nation: Spirit of Resistance” (1995).
Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1765.

On October 15, 1988 the Lubicon Lake Nation erected a blockade on their territory in order to protect their land when discussions with the province of Alberta and the government of Canada failed to address LLN concerns with any seriousness. Five days later, armed Canadian RCMP officers arrested 27 LLN citizens and supporters. Dawn J. Hill

P. 78. Dawn J. Hill’s “Lubicon Lake Nation: Spirit of Resistance” (1995).
Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1765.

The Lubicon Lake Nation met with Alberta Premier Donald Getty in October of 1988 and arrived at an agreement, “The Grimshaw Accord”. This Accord addressed LLN territoriality, jurisdiction and rights (including sub-surface and surface rights to their land and a defined area). Following the Accord, the Government of Canada refused to honour LLN standards of citizenship identification and required that the Indian Act standards related to membership apply and that the Lubicon legally terminate all of their rights. The Nation clearly could not accept these terms as they run contrary to LLN ancient laws, traditions, customs and legal orders and international law. Dawn J. Hill

P. 78-80. Dawn J. Hill’s “Lubicon Lake Nation: Spirit of Resistance” (1995).
Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1765.

Several attempts have been made to construct dissent or create the illusion of dissent in the media with respect to Lubicon Lake Nation. These attempts include Government of Canada offers of Indian and band status to “dissident” people and/or non-Lubicon Lake Nation people in order to address access to Lubicon Lake Nation land without negotiating with Lubicon Lake Nation peoples and government. The LLN understands these ongoing offers to be an attempt to undermine our authority and promote public misunderstanding about the enduring nature of our laws, rights and territoriality.

The summer of 2011 was a particularly damaging one for the Nation with wildfires requiring evacuation and oil spills contaminating the Traditional Territory.

“We survived off this land for many years and everything that we do surrounds land. For example, through our prayers and the ceremonies that we have, everything is tied back to the land. Its (sic) like a newborn baby and the attachment it has to its mother.” Chief Bernard Ominayak.

P. 100. Dawn J. Hill’s “Lubicon Lake Nation: Spirit of Resistance” (1995).
Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1765.

“In our group we have always had these family groupings, one family in one area and another in another area and so on. While we had these ceremonies we always were able to identify where people were at fall or where they would be going in winter. It was always kind of a government in one sense. We kept tabs on our people and what part of the territory they were going to be on in a year…The social fiber of these things are older people have a whole lot of knowledge in how to survive off the land which now is not being utilized to a large degree given the destruction of the area. Our community faces a lot of hardship because of the destruction of the wildlife.” Chief Bernard Ominayak.

Chief Bernard Ominayak.
P. 106. Dawn J. Hill’s “Lubicon Lake Nation: Spirit of Resistance” (1995).
Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1765.

“One of the main reasons, or the way I see it in what I know, that as a Native person if I want to survive and share as a Native person, the true meaning of a Native person, the way that the Creator was to provide for myself is I have got to be as close to the land as possible. This area, what I know, the more we lose by way of land and animals the more we lose ourselves.” Chief Bernard Ominayak.

Chief Bernard Ominayak.
P. 111. Dawn J. Hill’s “Lubicon Lake Nation: Spirit of Resistance” (1995).
Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1765.

“They can drag me off to jail and lock me up and throw away the key. I have many children and grandchildren, they keep going even if I am locked up. They can lock up my boys and I still have grandchildren that will carry on the fight.” Councillor Walter Whitehead

Councillor Walter Whitehead
P. 130. Dawn J. Hill’s “Lubicon Lake Nation: Spirit of Resistance” (1995).
Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1765.

“I will always be Lubicon, like my father and grandfathers will never sell out. They can offer me anything, I will not sell out who I am. And I am not about to watch them destroy the land we love.” Councillor Walter Whitehead

Councillor Walter Whitehead
P. 131. Dawn J. Hill’s “Lubicon Lake Nation: Spirit of Resistance” (1995).
Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1765.

“The Lubicon women demand an end to the physical, emotional, economic, cultural and spiritual destruction. We demand an end to the invasion and devastation to our lives. We demand an end to the mockery of our nation? We demand an end to the genocide. Hear our voice and our message – we don’t know if we’ll be here tomorrow.” (Lubicon Lake Nation Women’s Circle, Rose Ominayak, August 1992).

“When Treaty 8 was signed in 1899, the Lubicon were missed. At various times during the 1920s and 1930s Lubicon who wanted to become part of Treaty 8 contacted the government. In 1933, they formally petitioned Ottawa to recognize their rights. In 1939 the federal government recognized the Lubicon as a separate band, but no treaty was made. By 1942 a government official had removed the names of many people belonging to the interior bands in order to "cut down expenses." (Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review, Final Report, 1993).

“In the 1970s sizable oil and gas reserves were discovered on Lubicon land. In 1973 a federal Order-in-Council was passed which legally recognized the Lubicon Lake Indians as a band. In 1975 the Lubicon, with six other isolated communities, submitted a caveat to serve notice of their unextinguished Aboriginal Rights. The provincial government responded by retroactively passing Bill 29, which changed the law and thus made the Lubicon case (with the other applicants on the caveat) without basis. Resource development began in earnest in 1979. The ability of the Lubicon to continue their self-sufficient lifestyle was arrested by this development.” (Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review, Final Report, 1993).

“The United Nations Committee on Human Rights released their report concerning the Lubicon in March, 1990. Their conclusion was without precedent in the western world. They acted on the belief that the Lubicon had exhausted all other options for internal remedies to their situation. The Committee issued an order against Canada to stop any action that would further hinder the status of the Lubicon. They condemned Canada in the strongest possible language. The Committee concluded that, "Recent developments threaten the way of life and culture of the Lubicon Lake band and constitute a violation of Article 27 (of the Human Rights Convention) so long as they continue." In addition they stated, "The Lubicon could not achieve effective legal redress within Canada.".” (Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review, Final Report, 1993).

“The United Nations Human Rights Committee took a second unprecedented action in May 1991 by appointing a rapporteur to monitor the Lubicon situation and report to the Committee. In July the newly formed "Woodland Cree Band," some of whom had been listed as members of the Lubicon Band, accepted a settlement package offered by the federal government. In December the Indian Affairs Minister announced the creation of a second new band, the Loon River Band.” (Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review, Final Report, 1993).

Recommendations 9 and 10 of the Final Report of the Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review provide:

9. That the settlement reflect cultural considerations which include:

a. That hunting and gathering not be regarded only as a past and currently irrelevant part of the economy, but as a contemporary and continuing part of the economy for the present and future; b. That language translations within the negotiations, and in the final agreement, be encouraged for the benefit of the Cree speakers; c. That cultural sustainability be held firm as an alternative to the usual assimilative philosophy.

10. That membership eligibility is a prerogative of the Lubicon nation. In the past when treaty commissioners negotiated on behalf of the federal government, they accepted the number of members given them by the chief or leader. They have not accepted the number of members given them by Lubicon representatives. (Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review, Final Report, 1993).

“... [At the UN] you have to be super-polite, super diplomatic ... what happened was the Committee [for Human Rights] came out with a ... decision condemning Canada in the strongest possible language that they could, within the parameters that they work in. The other thing that the Committee did, which is another unprecedented thing in relation to the Lubicons in this particular instance, is that they wanted to maintain an on-going hands-on in the Lubicon case. Usually what happens is they make a decision, issue it and then it's finished. There's no usual follow-up because there are so many cases. But in this case they appointed a special rapporteur who's to report to the Committee in an on-going basis as to the situation of the Lubicons.” Sharon Venne. (Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review, Final Report, 1993).

“To me, it signals within the United Nations and other people I've talked to, that the Committee knows that Canada was not playing fair with them and they wanted to say something about the Lubicon case ... "OK, Canada, you say that you're making fair and equitable efforts to settle this issue ... We'll give you the benefit of the doubt publicly, but we're also appointing a rapporteur." And that's the killer because the rapporteur is totally independent of Canada. He's from Hungary. There's no way that the Canadian government can influence the guy ... so in fact, what the UN has done is kick the whole Lubicon thing up one more step ... it's unprecedented for the UN to do that.” Sharon Venne. (Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review, Final Report, 1993).

“I don't think there's any amount of dollars that would be able to put back in place what we lost by way of our traditional way of life. Rather, we've concentrated on trying to put something together that would enable us to build some kind of a future for our people, especially for our younger generation.” Chief Bernard Ominayak. (Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review, Final Report, 1993).

“Along the road you don't see any of the clearcut logging, but the minute you get behind the scenes there's a hell of a mess back in there. That holds true in a lot of these things. I think that's the same problem we faced with the oil development. It seems like the bigger the oil company, the less regulations there are, if there were ever any in the first place. Supposedly there are, but they're not followed. There are a lot of things -- for example, around those pump jacks, around those battery stations where there's a lot of oil spilled and it gets into the water stream. The ducks get it in their feathers and then they can't fly. All the drilling mud and stuff, the toxins that are being used in the drilling, the bears, the coyotes get into that and their fur starts falling off and it gets into their system and eats out their insides. So all these things have to be looked at any time any kind of development is going to take place in order to try and preserve.” Chief Bernard Ominayak. (Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review, Final Report, 1993).

“There must be a reason why the Creator put us in the area that we're in. So I guess from that perspective the onus is on us to try and protect the Earth, the environment and the wildlife as much as possible.” Chief Bernard Ominayak. (Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review, Final Report, 1993).

“Nobody is talking about giving the Lubicons anything. We're talking about settling a long-standing dispute over thousands of square miles of land which the Lubicons have never given up but which others have moved into and exploited to the tune of an estimated $7 billion. Lawyers and politicians can argue forever about the legalities of all of this, but several things are certain.” John MacMillan, Commissioner, Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review. (Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review, Final Report, 1993).

“What is going to be on the land for the children of the future? What are they going to feed their children and their children's children? We must think in terms of seven generations. This is the teaching which has been told to us by the Elders, never to think about ourselves, but to think into the future. This is the way that the Lubicon Cree have approached this whole negotiation with the federal government. The Lubicon approach and process must be respected and honoured by all Peoples. It is a very valuable lesson which is being shown to us by the Lubicon Peoples. All Peoples who believe in justice must support them.” Regena Crowchild, Commissioner, Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review. (Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review, Final Report, 1993).

“Resolution of the Lubicon case is not only in the interest of the Lubicon Cree. It is also in the interest of other Canadians. Native and nonNative peoples want to live within a country that deals fairly with all peoples.” Menno Wiebe, Commissioner, Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review. (Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review, Final Report, 1993).

We are a sovereign Indigenous Nation whose borders are intact, whose authorities remain in place, and whose laws continue to govern our peoples.

“The Lubicon Lake people are an Indigenous Nation of approximately 500 people living in northern Alberta, Canada. We have never surrendered our rights to our traditional Territory in any legally or historically recognized way. We were overlooked when a treaty was negotiated in 1899 with other Indigenous peoples in the surrounding area. In the past 25 years our traditional Territory has been invaded and ravaged by dozens of resource exploitation companies who have extracted billions of dollars in oil, gas and forestry resources from our traditional area.” Lubicon Lake Nation Submission to the 36th Session of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. May 1, 2006. Geneva.

In the period of 1979-1982 over 400 oil wells were drilled within a 15 mile radius of our community. Lubicon Lake Nation Submission to the 36th Session of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. May 1, 2006. Geneva.

On May 9, 2011 Lubicon Lake Nation Chief Bernard Ominayak and Woodland Cree Chief William Whitehead met with Alberta's Environment Minister, Rob Renner on Saturday to tour the site of an oil spill that has dumped approximately 4.5 million litres of oil onto Lubicon territory. MLA Frank Oberle (Peace River), MLA Pearl Calahasen (Slave Lake), and Lubicon Councillors Walter Whitehead and Bryan Laboucan, also took part in the tour of the spill site and surrounding area to assess the nature and extent of the spill and its immediate impact on the Lubicon Lake Nation’s territory.

In 2009, the Lubicon Lake Nation was forcefully placed under third party management despite decades of demonstrated fiscal accountability and accuracy.

“His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and Nobel Peace Laureates Rigoberta Menchu of Guatemala and Archbishop Desmund Tutu of South Africa, joined six other Nobel Peace Laureates urging President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, an environmental disaster in the making. In a report to the UN Human Rights Council just released, Special Rapporteur James Anaya states that TransCanada has failed to consult or obtain permission from the Lubicon Lake Nation peoples concering (sic) the tar sands pipeline.”
Brenda Norell, “Dalai Lama, Rigoberta Menchu, Nobel Peace Laureates: Halt tarsands”

Brenda Norell, “Dalai Lama, Rigoberta Menchu, Nobel Peace Laureates: Halt tarsands”
http://narcosphere.narconews.com/notebook/brenda-norrell/2011/09/dalai-lama-rigoberta-menchu-nobel-peace-laureates-halt-tarsands

The Lubicon Lake Nation elections take place in accordance with the same ancient principles, traditions and customs which have always governed elections. Canada has always acknowledged this and has publically acknowledged the same. “According to Indian and Northern Affairs Canada spokesman Glenn Luff, the Lubicon have a custom election code, which the federal department doesn’t have anything to do with.”
Michelle Huley, Sun Media, “Lubicon elders call new election”.

Michelle Huley, Sun Media, “Lubicon elders call new election”.
http://www.airdrieecho.com/PrintArticle.aspx?e=1627957

The Lubicon Lake Nation Elders’ Council is an integral part of the governance of the Lubicon Lake Nation (which operates in addition to Chief and Council / Heads of family to ensure lawfulness, accountability and the application of ancient knowledge continue to occur). The Elders’ Council advises and guides the Nation and leadership to ensure that there is consistency, fairness and accord with Lubicon Lake Nation legal principles in decision making and activities of the Nation.

Little Buffalo is a community within the Lubicon Lake Nation traditional territory. Heads of family and their families live together in other areas or small communities as well, depending on history, community consensus and the season.

Healthy animals and plant life have been decimated in the Lubicon Lake Nation territory, the result of unchecked and environmentally questionable development invasion.

Unchecked and environmentally unsound oil and gas exploitation have a human toll: since the early 1980s (when development exploded in our traditional territory) birth defects, asthma, miscarriages, an early death rates have sky rocketed in our Nation.

Despite repeated trips to the negotiating table, we have been unsuccessful in securing a modern day agreement with the government of Canada that fairly and justly addresses our status as the original Indigenous inhabitants of our traditional territory. Canada’s position breaks and compromises both Lubicon Lake Nation laws and legal orders and international human rights and legal standards with respect to Indigenous peoples.

The Government of Canada refused to allow Hon. E. Davie Fulton to act as mediator in the negotiation process post-1985. Mr. Fulton was commissioned as the federal government’s special Lubicon negotiator in 1985, having previously been a Supreme Court Judge in British Columbia. After equally weighing both Lubicon Lake Nation and federal government evidence, Mr. Fulton published a fact-finding report that concluded the Lubicon Lake Nation had rights, the government had been acting wrongfully and recommendations, including compensation, for the future. Mr. Fulton’s report was quashed and none of the recommendations implemented.

As part of our self-determining authorities, we possess the right to self-sufficient economic development. As a sovereign and autonomous people we have the right to determine the nature and scale of economic development on our territory. At the root of this right is our deep and meaningful connection to our lands – a sacred gift from the Creator. Land is our source of life. It provides us with all that we need for our physical, material and economic survival. When the Creator placed us on our lands, we were not just given the right to make a living from the land but also the responsibility to care for it. 

We, the Lubicon Lake Nation, are facing a humanitarian crisis. Nearly two decades ago, the United Nations declared that, “historical inequities... and more recent developments threaten the way of life and culture of the Lubicon people” and that they amount to a violation of our human rights so long as they continue. Lubicon Lake Band v. Canada, UN HRC , Supp. No 40 UN Doc. A/45/40 (1990)

The sovereignty of our Nation originates from the legal orders and customs established and given to us by the Creator. These orders and customs govern all aspects of our lives, including our relationship with the land, our relationship with each other and other nations, the transmission of our language and customs to future generations and other aspects of our social, economic, political and spiritual relationships.

There is a piece of land, the “Teardrop” and it is the traditional territory of the Lubicon Lake Nation people. The territory has sustained our Nation for as long as we have existed and our history is written in our land. If we lose this land, we would also lose our way of life and identity. This is our rightful home, and has been since time immemorial.

We have the right and the responsibility to care for our territory. This land has sustained the Lubicon Lake Nation for as long as we have existed. It must be respected and maintained in a way that ensures it is able to support our lives and our livelihood. Therefore, we expect that any agreement regarding or related to resources on or from our traditional territory will address our jurisdiction over the resources in the region and our needs as a Nation.

Welcome to the website for the Lubicon Lake Nation

We are the Lubicon Lake Nation: a sovereign and self-determining peoples. The Lubicon Lake Nation is a distinct Indigenous Nation with a well-defined traditional Territory in what is now known as north-central Alberta, Canada (see Map). We are Cree peoples, Neheyiwak, and were and have been hunting, fishing and trapping on our Traditional Territory long before the creation of Canada. We continue to occupy and protect our Traditional Territory today. We have never surrendered or ceded our land to a foreign government. Our Nation maintains jurisdiction over, authority for, and autonomy of our Traditional Territory, Nation and peoples.