Backgrounder: Lubicon Claim Negotiations

The Lubicon Lake Band (Lubicon) is located approximately 450 km northwest of Edmonton, Alberta, and has a current registered population of 502 people.

Geographically, Lubicon falls within the Treaty 8 boundary, which comprises what is now the northern half of Alberta, the northeast quarter of British Columbia, the northwest corner of Saskatchewan and the area south of Hay River and Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories. Explore these maps of Treaty 8 and other pre-1975 Treaties.

Lubicon is the last of the Treaty 8 isolated communities missed by the Treaty Commissioners at the time of treaty making in 1899. The signing by Canada and Lubicon of a Negotiation Framework affirms both parties’ dedication to the advancement of claim negotiations.

Status and Next Steps under the processes set out in the Negotiation Framework are:

  • With respect to reserve creation, preliminary land selection is complete and negotiations will ensure the development of a detailed Canada–Lubicon Treaty Land Agreement to clarify the reserve creation steps and a Canada–Alberta Agreement on land transfer.
  • Community Development, Lubicon has undertaken a Comprehensive Community Development Planning (CCDP) exercise, which has already begun and which will inform future negotiations on construction of the community.
  • Regarding other treaty-related benefits, the Negotiations Framework sets out a process for advancing these to formal negotiations, while at the same time holding up the reserve creation and community planning elements, which will proceed concurrently.

Historical Background

In 1933, the Cree living at Lubicon Lake petitioned for band status and a reserve pursuant to Treaty 8. In the 1940s, government officials advised that a separate band and reserve should be established at the west end of Lubicon Lake. For various reasons, including the Second World War, the lands were never surveyed and the reserve was never established.

In 1973, the Lubicon people were formally granted band status by the federal government through an Order-in-Council. This allowed for annual funding to cover essential services such as education, social assistance and some housing, but no treaty benefits such as reserve lands.

Canada’s first formal offer to the Lubicon was made in the mid-1980s, with subsequent offers made in 2002 and 2003. In 2006, Canada offered to establish the reserve and build a community without prejudice to Lubicon’s treaty-related grievances. A further delay in discussions was caused by a governance dispute internal to the Lubicon that took place from 2009-2013.

With the February 2013 election of a new Lubicon Chief and Council, Canada and the Lubicon began to engage in exploratory discussions which have culminated in a new Negotiation Framework. This framework represents the joint efforts of Canada and the Lubicon to establish processes to address the Lubicon community’s needs and long-standing grievances related to the unfulfilled request for a reserve and other treaty benefits pursuant to Treaty 8.

Since the late 1980s, Canada has settled 10 Treaty Land Entitlement claims in Treaty 8 territory, the most recent being in 2011 with the Bigstone Cree and Peerless Trout First Nations. For more information, see the specific claims settlement report and this video about the settlement with Bigstone Cree and Peerless Trout First Nations.