KAIROS and Amnesty International urge the governments of Canada and Alberta to recognize the Lubicon Cree First Nation’s land and resource rights

View PDF of KAIROS/Amnesty International Joint Statement

Intense and large scale oil and gas exploitation on the traditional lands of the Lubicon Cree First Nation in northern Alberta began in the late seventies. The impact on the community has been devastating. Within one generation the Lubicon’s hunting and trapping economy was destroyed. Efforts by the Lubicon people to adjust and develop an alternate way of life have been impeded by the federal government’s refusal to recognize the Lubicon’s land and resource rights, notwithstanding repeated calls by international human rights bodies including the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC), the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

In 2005, fifteen years after concluding that oil and gas exploitation had endangered the way of life and culture of the Lubicon Cree, the UN HRC concluded that Lubicon land “continues to be compromised by logging and large-scale oil and gas extraction” and called on the government of Canada to ensure that the Lubicon were adequately consulted “before granting licences for economic exploitation.”

Last year, following an official visit to Canada which included a trip to Lubicon territory, the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Miloon Kothari, called on the government of Canada to place “a moratorium …on all oil and extractive activities in the Lubicon region until a settlement” of Lubicon land rights is achieved.

His report emphasized that the “activities of private companies on Aboriginal lands — should be carried out only with consultation and approval of all Aboriginal and concerned communities” and that the activity on Lubicon land seems “in contradiction with (UN) treaty bodies’ recommendations and the right to self-determination and control over natural resources” of the Lubicon people.

The last round of land rights negotiations between the Lubicon and the federal and Alberta governments broke down in 2003. There are no new talks on the horizon.

A recent leadership dispute in the community threatens to worsen the situation by drawing attention away from the Lubicon’s decades-long rights struggle. In response to recent requests from the Lubicon, the KAIROS Indigenous Rights Circle agreed to affirm KAIROS’ support by issuing a joint statement with Amnesty International emphasizing the need to stay focused on recognizing and respecting Lubicon land rights. KAIROS’ member churches have stood in solidarity with the Lubicon since the early 80s, when oil and gas extraction began taking its toll on the Lubicon people.

For more information please contact Ed Bianchi at ebianchi@kairoscanada.org or 613.235.9956 ext 221.

Filed in: Indigenous Rights

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