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    AiM Land Indigenous Indigenous Energy Oil and Gas (Web)

    Indigenous Energy – Oil and Gas

    AiM Land Indigenous Indigenous Energy Oil and Gas (Web)

    Indigenous Energy - Oil and Gas Industry

    As we continue to spotlight Indigenous people, their business and relationships in the energy sector, this article will explore the oil and gas industry, particularly upstream production.

    Canada’s upstream oil and natural gas industry has a long history of interaction with Indigenous peoples and the industry has made great strides toward learning, developing relationships, and sharing benefits from resource development. Over this time, there has been a greater emphasis on helping to address needs identified by Indigenous communities.

    AiM Land Indigenous Oil and Gas Pump Jacks

    In Opposition?

    The idea that Indigenous people in Canada all oppose oil and gas projects is very far from reality. Many First Nations communities are not only benefitting from working in the industry, but are actually starting to stake their own claims on energy mega-projects.

    It’s been a persistent narrative that opponents of Canada’s oil and gas industry eagerly wield even as a growing number of First Nations turn to energy projects to carve out brighter futures for their communities.

    “To say that we are all against development is ludicrous. We’re in favour of prosperity. We know that the majority of Chiefs are in favour of participating in major projects.”
    Dale Swampy, Alberta’s Samson Cree Nation
    AiM Land Indigenous Oil and Gas Pump Jack and Derrick

    The Oil Sands

    First Nations involved in Canada’s oil sands industry as we saw in the previous article, there has been a positive and pronounced economic benefit upon their employment and unemployment rates, employment income, and on their reliance on government transfers.

    But while increased partnerships provide obvious mutual benefits, some First Nations leaders are leading the charge to control their own destiny through ownership of major energy projects.

    Through the establishment of new and strengthening existing relationships, the oil sands industry and Indigenous communities and businesses continue to see shared value from oil sands development. Some of the facts bear repeating:

    • In 2019, the oil sands industry spent about $2.4 billion on procurement from Indigenous businesses, which is 53% higher than in 2017 (about $1.5 billion)
    • The number of Indigenous suppliers has also grown, from 263 in 2017 to 275 in 2019
    • Cumulative procurement spending in the three-year period 2017 through 2019 totaling about $5.9 billion.
    • Indigenous people are a growing proportion of the oil and natural gas workforce, making up 7.4% in 2019 (up from 4.8% in 2018). For comparison, Indigenous people make up 3.3% of overall employment in Canada.
    “In a world with a growing need for responsibly developed oil and natural gas, the deep relationships and partnerships with Indigenous-owned business and communities across Canada play an integral role in the success of our industry,”
    Tim MacMillan, CAPP’s president and CEO

    Taking Ownership

    Here a few examples of First Nation communities getting involved and taking ownership of some major projects in the oil sands region:

    • September 2021, Suncor Energy announced a partnership with eight Indigenous groups and First Nations in the oil sands area, so these groups can purchase part of the existing Northern Courier pipeline from TC Energy.
    • The partnership agreement includes Suncor, three First Nations and five Métis communities in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, which is the region where the oil sands industry is located. The partners will purchase 15 percent of the pipeline’s ownership, with a value of about $1.3 billion. Owning part of this operating pipeline will provide stable revenues for these Indigenous communities for decades to come.
    • In 2017, the company helped the Fort McKay First Nation and Mikisew Cree First Nation to acquire 49 percent of Suncor’s East Tank Farm development for $503 million.
    • Revenue generated from these partnerships has supported a number of programs and services, education, clean drinking water, housing, cultural and community centres, and continual skills training to just name a few.
    “We are engaging with Indigenous communities, making them a full and equal partner in the journey forward …”
    Mark Little, Suncor CEO and President
    AiM Land Indigenous Oil and Gas Treat7 Flag

    Building the Future

    Beyond the oil sands region, all manner of companies large and small throughout the natural gas and oil industry are forming a variety of partnerships and agreements with Indigenous communities:

    • In November 2020, the Council of Haisla Nation near Kitimat, B.C. on Canada’s West Coast voted to approve a partnership agreement for the Cedar LNG project, a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility. Cedar LNG will be the first majority Indigenous-owned LNG export facility in Canada.
    • In 2020, Birchcliff Energy awarded contracts worth about $1.75 million to Indigenous service providers for activities such as water management, site preparation, safety equipment rentals, medical services, drilling equipment rentals and environmental and remediation services.
    • On Canada’s east coast, the Indigenous Safety and Offshore Engagement Training program offers training for Indigenous businesses on safety issues, industry safety, and set up opportunities for Indigenous businesses to supply goods and services to the offshore oil industry.
    “... increased Indigenous participation in the oil sands’ far-reaching supply chain, creating jobs and economic opportunity ...”


    Canada’s oil and natural gas industry has an important opportunity to further enhance its relationship with Indigenous peoples to build a bright future. Indigenous communities have clearly shown they want to be involved and are not opposed to projects that are mutually beneficial to all. As the industry moves forward, their partnerships will no doubt lead to more and more Indigenous business ownership of these projects that will be essential for continued prosperity of their communities.


    The AiM Indigenous Engagement department plays a critical role in successful energy development by providing our clients with a specialized team whose focus is grounded on cultural understanding, respect and mutual trust. We facilitate productive working relationships in support of our clients, while respecting the rights of Indigenous communities.

    AiM Indigenous Engagement offers a commitment to establishing a consultation process that will lead to long-term relationships. Our extensive experience provides us the ability to guide both parties through a variety of diverse issues while facilitating Application and Permitting. Successful engagement requires an open and transparent approach.

    To learn more reach out to Lane Boisjoli, Vice President | Email: | Direct: 403-648-5401 OR Lindsay Beston, PM – Indigenous Engagement | Email: | Direct: 403-648-5428

    #indigenouspeople #indigeneoushistorymonth #indigenouseneergy #indigenousday #june21

    AIM-Land Circle R2
    Lane Boisjoli
    Vice President
    Lindsay-Beston-Indigenous-PM-AiM Land
    PM – Indigenous Engagement
    AiM Land Services