The Lubicon Lake Cree continue their fight against development on their ancestral lands.

Lubicon representatives were recently in Montreal to spread the word about their struggles. Their land has never been ceded in a treaty, but clearcutting and drilling for oil and gas have been detroying their land for nearly 20 years.

The Alberta government and Ottawa arc trying to stall the Lubicon land claim in the courts by arguing that the Lubicon no longer practice a traditional way of life and therefore cannot claim aboriginal title to the land.

An estimated $8 billion worth of petroleum has been extracted from Lubicon land, while pollution from the development has led to successive waves of tuberculosis, respiratory and skin diseases, cancers, miscarriages, still births and birth defects.

Alcohol abuse and suicide are growing problems in the community. In a few short years, the Lubicon Lake community, once vibrant and self-sufficient, has become dependent on welfare. In 1979, the average income from hunting was $5,000 and 10 per cent were on welfare. In 1984, the hunting income was $400 while 90 per cent were on welfare, according to figures from the University of Alberta’s Boreal Institute for Northern Studies.