TransCanada proceeding toward confrontation with Lubicon?

Friends of the Lubicon
PO Box 444 Stn D,
Etobicoke ON M9A 4X4
Tel: (416) 763-7500
Email: fol (at) tao (dot) ca
www.lubicon.ca

September 25, 2008

Included below for your information is the latest exchange between TransCanada and the Lubicons. Despite Eric Mohun's slippery public relations assurances of TransCanada's supposedly sincere interest in meeting with the Lubicons and arriving at a "mutually acceptable decision that will be in accordance with Lubicon interests", TransCanada appears to be proceeding apace towards a confrontation with the Lubicons on the ground.

Earlier this month Chief Ominayak received a letter from a man named Barrie Shibley, VP of Sales and Marketing for a company called "Aramark Remote Services". While Mr. Shipley's use of language is less than precise, his intent seems clear. Mr. Shipley's letter reads, in part:

"This letter is to advise you and the Lubicon Lake Indian Nation that ARAMARK Remote Services will be providing camp and catering services for up to 600 workers of TransCanada Pipeline at the NCC Northstar project...

"We have attempted five times to arrange meetings with your offices since August 29 but have not received any response. If you wish to discuss our services, economic benefits or employment opportunities we offer your community, please to not hesitate to call me...

"At this time, we consider our obligation to inform you of our work in this area to be fulfilled but remain hopeful that we will be able to work with you in determining how we can benefit your community."

August 29 is of course a few weeks ago. Given the tone and tenor of Mr. Shipley's letter, it seems likely that commencement of pipeline construction is imminent. That fits with the construction schedule TransCanada has made clear it intends to meet whether the Lubicons agree or not.

What TransCanada and its proxy Aramark both seem to be offering the Lubicons is jobs working on the pipeline. Neither seem prepared to take Lubicon land rights into account; nor Lubicon health, safety, wildlife and environmental concerns.

Chief Ominayak advises that he intends to tell Mr. Shipley that TransCanada will not be allowed to build the proposed pipeline across Lubicon land unless TransCanada agrees to respect Lubicon land rights, answer Lubicon questions and take Lubicon concerns into account.

A confrontation on the ground thus seems unavoidable.


TransCanada's Mohun letter to Chief Ominayak

August 28, 2008

TransCanada PipeLines Tower
450 - 1st Street S.W.
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 5H1

tel 403.920-6144
fax 403.920-2397
email art_cunningham@transcanada.com

Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
8228 - 186 Street
Edmonton, AB
T5T 1H4
Attention: Chief Bernard Ominayak

RE: Proposed North Central Corridor Pipeline Project

Chief Ominayak;

As you are aware, TransCanada is in receipt of a letter from Sister Mary Jeanne Davidson, which communicates your position on the possibility of dialogue between TransCanada and the Lubicon Nation, which is reliant on the condition that "TransCanada recognizes and respects Lubicon Land".

Therefore, TransCanada would like to clearly state that the company recognizes and respects Lubicon Land, and with this recognition, we are sincerely interested in meeting with Chief and Council, hear of the issues and needs of the community and to arrive at a mutually acceptable decision that will be in accordance with Lubicon Nation interests.

We will make ourselves available at your convenience. Please contact either myself or Armand Cardinal to schedule this next meeting. We look forward to working together with the Lubicon Nation.

Sincerely,

Original Signed by

Eric Mohun
Aboriginal Relations

TransCanada

 


Chief Ominayak's letter responding to TransCanada's Mohun letter

Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
P.O. Box 6731
Peace River, AB T8S 1S5
Phone: (403) 629-3945
Fax: (403) 629-3939

September 9, 2008

Eric Mohun
Aboriginal Relations
TransCanada
TransCanada Pipelines Tower
450-1st Street S.W.
Calgary, AB T2P 5HK1

Dear Mr. Mohun:

Sister Mary Jeanne Davidson quoted me accurately when she told you that the Lubicon people will not be prepared to discuss construction of a pipeline across unceded Lubicon Territory until TransCanada recognizes and respects Lubicon land. However you do TransCanada another disservice by continuing to play games with the meaning of these words. Trying to play public relations games with this serious situation only further poisons relations between us and won’t fool Sister Mary Jeanne, Canadians, Europeans, UN Human Rights bodies, Amnesty International, people in Alaska or anybody else.

TransCanada knows very well what these words mean because we have spelled out what these words mean to representatives of TransCanada many times, both verbally and in writing -- yourself included.

We patiently continued talking with representatives of TransCanada for over a year -- yourself included -- despite the fact that representatives of TransCanada repeatedly broke their promise to bring somebody to the next meeting who could answer our questions and deal with our concerns.

We stopped talking with representatives of TransCanada only after TransCanada made application to the Alberta government to build a major new gas pipeline across Lubicon Territory, without first agreeing to respect Lubicon land rights, answering our questions and dealing with our concerns -- and then added insult to injury by falsely claiming publicly that TransCanada had consulted everybody along the route of the proposed pipeline and that there were no objections.

We have since made clear repeatedly to representatives of TransCanada -- yourself included -- that we are not prepared to talk with representatives of TransCanada further unless TransCanada first agrees to recognize and respect Lubicon land rights, suspends its application to the Alberta government until it has obtained our agreement not to oppose that application, answers Lubicon questions and deals with Lubicon concerns about TransCanada’s proposal to build a major new gas pipeline across unceded Lubicon Territory.

Specifically Sister Mary Jeanne asked you whether TransCanada intends to proceed with construction of the pipeline whether the Lubicons agreed or not. You told her "We do have a deadline and construction plans to go ahead".

Sister Mary Jeanne asked if TransCanada is prepared to engage in true consultations with the Lubicons or is just proposing to advise the Lubicons of TransCanada’s construction plans. You told her "There’s a legal definition of true consultation and an oil and gas definition".

Sister Mary Jeanne asked if TransCanada’s application to the province prior to answering Lubicon questions and dealing with Lubicon concerns doesn’t in effect constitute express TransCanada acceptance of provincial assertion of jurisdiction over unceded Lubicon land. You told her "TransCanada has no authority to say who owns the land".

Sister Mary Jeanne asked if TransCanada is prepared to suspend its application to the province in order to first deal with Lubicon concerns. You told her -- without acknowledging that most companies obtain Lubicon agreement not to oppose before applying to the province and face Lubicon opposition if they don’t -- "There’s a lot of activity going on in Lubicon land and we see that". You told her "All the other companies have proceeded". You told her "We don’t understand why the Lubicons hold us to this impasse".

I attach for the benefit of those receiving noted copies of this letter a copy of an earlier letter I sent your colleague Art Cunningham, Senior Aboriginal Policy Advisor for TransCanada, outlining the history of our exchanges following TransCanada’s application to the province of Alberta for authority to build a major new gas pipeline across unceded Lubicon land without first obtaining Lubicon agreement not to oppose that application. Representatives of TransCanada are of course already aware of this letter, and these exchanges, but others across the country and around the world need to know what it’s like to deal with representatives of TransCanada.

The Lubicon position remains the same as it has always been, and as it is with regard to any resource company that proposes to conduct activities in unceded Lubicon Territory. We will be prepared to consider talking with TransCanada about TransCanada’s proposal to build a major new gas pipeline across unceded Lubicon Territory once TransCanada agrees to respect Lubicon land rights, starting with suspension of TransCanada’s application to the Alberta government for provincial government authority to build that pipeline without first obtaining Lubicon agreement not to oppose that application.

Sincerely,

Original Signed by

Bernard Ominayak
Chief
Lubicon Lake Indian Nation

 

cc:Sister Mary Jeanne Davidson, ssnd
Phil Fontaine, National Chief, Assembly of First Nations
Nicole Bjerler, UN Human Rights Council
Nathalie Prouvez, UN Human Rights Committee
James Anaya, UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples
Wan-Hea Lee, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Torsten Schackel, UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Julian Berger, Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Unit of the UN OHCHR
Bahram Ghazi, Human Rights Officer, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Craig Benjamin, Amnesty International Canada
Bill Cox
Cindy Roberts


To receive timely e-mail updates on the Lubicon situation, please send an e-mail with the word subscribe in the subject line to
fol-request at masses.tao.ca