Lubicon Lake Indian Nation

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Lubicon Lake Nation
Muskotew Sakahikan Enowuk
Country  Canada
Province  Alberta
Census division Division No. 17
 • Type First Nations Council
 • Chief Bernard Ominayak
 • Councillor Dwight Gladue
 • Councillor Cynthia Tomlinson
 • Councillor Bryan Laboucan
 • Councillor Dwight Jordie Sawan
Time zone UTC-7 (MST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-6 (MDT)
Postal code span T8S 1S5
Area code(s) 780
Highways Highway 2
Highway 684
Highway 743
Highway 744
Waterways Peace River
Smoky River
Heart River
Pat's Creek.
Website - Lubicon Lake Nation Website

The Lubicon Lake Indian Nation is a Cree First Nation in Northern Alberta, Canada. They are commonly referred to as the Lubicon Lake Nation, Lubicon Cree or the Lubicon Lake Cree.

Lands claim dispute[edit]

The Nation has been embroiled with the Government of Canada regarding disputed land claims for decades. . In 1899, a government party visited northern Alberta for the arranged large-scale surrender of the Lubicon lands.[1] However, many of the Lubicon people were never contacted and continued to live in their traditional ways, by hunting and gathering on the land.[1] During the 1970 liquid gold rush, the province of Alberta leased areas of the Lubicon lands for resource exploration and exploitation.[1] The oil, gas, and lumber industry on Lubicon territory has caused damaging repercussions on the natural environment, the Lubicon culture and people.[2] Amnesty International has commented on the struggle of the Lubicon by issuing a report imploring the Canadian government to respect the land rights of the Lubicon. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights has found Canada in violation of article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights They have repeated their call for Canada to take immediate action to avoid irreparable damage. This call was first made by the UN Human Rights Committee in 1990 in a case known as Lubicon Lake Band v Canada and was repeated in 2003 and 2006. This struggle has been described in a book, Last Stand of the Lubicon Cree, by John Goddard. Repeated attempts to gerrymander and politically overthrow Lubicon leadership especially that led by internationally renowned Chief Bernard Ominayak have been organized by the Government of Canada and the Province of Alberta and documented by the Lubicon Lake Nation.[3][4]

Current and past chiefs[edit]

The current Chief of the Lubicon Lake Nation is Chief Bernard Ominayak. Ominayak was re-elected Chief on May 30, 2013 in the most recent Lubicon Lake Nation General Election.[5] The Government of Canada refuses to recognize the leadership of Chief Ominayak and the Lubicon Lake Nation Council. Instead the Department of Indian Affairs created a new governing body in February 2013 who refers to themselves as the "Lubicon Lake Band".[citation needed] According to the Canadian Department of Indian affairs, and various news outlets, the leader of the Lubicon Lake Band is Billy Joe Laboucan.[6][7][8][9][10][8] Whether Ominayak or Laboucan is the legitimate Chief of Lubicon Lake is an ongoing matter of dispute.[11] The Treaty 8 Nations of Alberta currently recognize Billy Joe Laboucan as Chief of the Lubicon Lake people.[12] Information gathered by Canadian News outlets and journalists who have visited the Lubicon community show that a large number of Lubicon people recognize Bernard Ominayak as Chief of the Lubicon Lake people.[13][14]

As has been practiced in the past, the Canadian government refuses to recognize the legitimacy of the Nation government and has attempted to divide and recreate the Lubicon into Indian Act styles of governance.[15] These processes led to the creation of the Woodland Cree band and reserve as well as the Loon River Cree reserve.[16][17][18] Ominayak has been the chief of the small first nation since the 1970s. Prior to this, Chief Walter Whitehead served the Lubicon before stepping aside to allow Ominayak to run for the position.[19] Whitehead now sits on the Lubicon Lake Nation Elders' Council who provide guidance and advise to the Nation government in accordance with Lubicon tradition, custom and law.[20] The Nation has 5 elected Councillors: Bryan Laboucan, Alphonse Ominayak, Dwight Gladue, Larry Ominayak and Dwight Jordie Sawan.[16]


The Alberta government estimated in 2009 that only 32 people from the Lubicon Lake Band lived on reserve, one of the smallest on-reserve populations of any First Nation in the province.[21] This is because the Lubicon Lake Nation live on their own sovereign territory which has never been ceded under treaty to the Canadian crown and as such do not have a "reserve".[22] The 32 person estimate released by the Alberta provincial government is likely related to members living on other First Nation reserves. Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada numbers indicate 274 Lubicon members living on their traditional lands.[23] Neither of the Government released numbers are likely to be accurate as the Federal Government has a documented history of denying Lubicon membership status and numbers in order to control the size of any future settlement.[24]

Leadership issues[edit]

Since the 1980s, the Government of Canada has capitalised on divisions and dissent within the Nation and has recognised groups of dissenting Lubicons as new First Nations such as the Woodland Cree First Nation and the Loon River Cree Nation. More recent attempts include attempts by Billy Joe Laboucan attempting to create the Little Buffalo Cree Band in 1999 and 2004 following a failed election bid to lead the Lubicon Lake Nation. Steven Noskey led a similar dissenting council created in 2009. The Lubicon Lake Nation Council continued to be led by Chief Bernard Ominayak who was unanimously re-elected and asked to hold the position "Chief for Life" by motion of the entire Lubicon membership in attendance; Ominayak refused. On the week of July 23, 2012, Noskey notified the Canadian government that he was stepping down, leaving Ominayak as the sole chief for the nation. This leadership resolution was ratified in writing by the majority of Lubicon citizens.[25]

In 2015 the Lubicon Lake Nation Government held a by-election to fill the vacant seat left by long-time Councillor Alphonse Ominayak who had died unexpectedly. Ominayak is remembered for his tireless work to protect Lubicon land, environment and way of life in the face of massive oil and gas development.[26][27] Ominayak additionally contributed greatly to the international human and indigenous rights work started by Chief Bernard Ominayak at the United Nations Human Rights Committee.[28]

In the December 3, 2015 by-election, Cynthia Tomlinson became the first woman elected to the Government of the Lubicon Lake Nation Council. Tomlinson previously served as head of the Lubicon Lake Nation Youth Council and Lands & Negotiations Advisor to the Chief & Council.[29] Tomlinson carries a bachelor's degree in Native American Studies from the University of Lethbridge.[30] She is also an experienced public speaker on indigenous rights and indigenous legal orders whose list of accomplishments include presenting at such institutions as the McGill Centre for Human Rights & Legal Pluralism and the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law.[31][32]


  1. ^ a b c Darlene Arbeau Ferreira, "Oil and the Lubicons Don’t Mix: A Land Claim in Northern Alberta in Historical Perspective" in The Canadian Journal of Native Studies, vol. 12, no. 1, 1992, 2.
  2. ^ Turner, Lisle. Our Land, My People: The Struggle of the Lubicon Cree. Amnesty International, 2008.
  3. ^ Tomlinson, Garrett (February 20, 2013). Election "Lubicon Lake Nation Standing Strong against Fraudulent Election: Demands Aboriginal Affairs Cease assimilation tactics in nation" Check |url= value (help). Lubicon Lake Nation. Retrieved June 28, 2013.
  4. ^ Lubicon Lake Nation (July 10, 1995). "Another Effort to Dismember the Lubicon Society". Grant Neufeld, Retrieved June 28, 2013.
  5. ^ "Lubicon Lake Nation General Election Press Release June 4, 2013".
  6. ^ "Chief and Council". Lubicon Lake Band.
  7. ^ "Laboucan: We all have a role to play in reconciliation". March 20, 2015.
  8. ^ a b "Faced with injunction, Lubicon ponder next move - APTN News". December 18, 2013.
  9. ^ Steele, Erin (2013-02-20). "Lubicon Lake Nation elects new chief and council in member-called election, receives federal recognition | Peace River Record Gazette". Retrieved 2018-09-02.
  10. ^ "Corporation linked to poverty-stricken Lubicon paid directors $2.7 million: audit - APTN News". September 8, 2014.
  11. ^ "New Lubicon Chief recognized by federal government".
  12. ^ "List of Nations | Treaty 8 Organizational Portal". Retrieved 2018-09-02.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 30, 2015. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
  14. ^ "70 per cent of murdered aboriginal women killed by indigenous men: RCMP" – via The Globe and Mail.
  15. ^ "Chronology of Fraudulent Lubicon Election".
  16. ^ a b[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ "Lubicon Backgrounder". Retrieved 2018-09-02.
  18. ^ "Lubicon Supporters' Home Page".
  19. ^ Dawn Martin-Hill (2008). The Lubicon Lake Nation: Indigenous Knowledge and Power. Toronto, Ontario: University of Toronto Press.
  20. ^ "Statement of Elders' Council".
  21. ^ "Alberta Municipal Affairs" (PDF). Retrieved 2018-09-02.
  22. ^ "Lubicon Lake Nation". Lubicon Lake Nation.[permanent dead link]
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 5, 2013. Retrieved June 28, 2013.
  24. ^ Ivan Morin (December 1998). "Lubicon Land Claim Talks Back On Track". Saskatchewan Indian. p. 6.
  25. ^ "Lubicon finally unite". APTN National News. July 26, 2012. Archived from the original on April 29, 2013. Retrieved July 26, 2012.
  26. ^ Paula Kirman Radical Citizen Media (June 29, 2007). "Justice for the Lubicon Cree - Alphonse Ominayak" – via YouTube.
  27. ^ "Nov 17/08 : TransCanada invades Lubicon territory". Retrieved 2018-09-02.
  28. ^ "UN impatient with Canada". AMMSA. 2005. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  29. ^ "Lubicon Lake Nation Holds Own Council By-Election". YL Country News. December 4, 2015. Archived from the original on January 8, 2017. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  30. ^ "Lubicon Lake Nation holds historic by-election: Cynthia Tomlinson first woman elected to traditional government".
  31. ^ "Tsilhqot'in: The Future of Aboriginal Title". Faculty of Law.
  32. ^ "Conference on Indigenous Laws - Calendrier des événements – uOttawa Calendar and Schedule of Events – uoCal".

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