At Canadian Natural, we believe that business development within the areas where we operate creates value and leads to sustainable community development, and we are proud to work with stakeholders to develop business and capacity-building partnerships.
Our Horizon Oil Sands plant site is 4.5 km x 2.5 km, not to mention that for several months every year it is too cold outside to walk more than a short distance. Sakasteew Transportation Ltd. was brought on as a contractor early on in Horizon’s development to provide shuttle service for employees across our operation. Located in the Fort McKay First Nation — which is Horizon’s closest community neighbor — it is an Aboriginal-owned business in the oil sands region.
The company has grown steadily along with oil sands activity in the region under the leadership of founder, owner and president Marie Boucher. Sakasteew means “morning sunrise…a new beginning”, and establishing her own business was a new beginning of sorts for Boucher, who worked previously for the Fort McKay Group of Companies. Things began modestly at Sakasteew Transportation, with two employees, one 15-passenger van and Boucher herself often behind the wheel in the company’s early days. Today, it has grown to 30 employees with a fleet of passenger buses, shuttle buses and passenger vans. In addition to its presence at Horizon, the company provides site services to several of our industry peers and also makes runs between sites and the Fort McMurray International Airport. At Horizon alone, Sakasteew Transportation uses up to four passenger vans and on an average day dispatch receives about 200 calls.
Canadian Natural’s lengthy relationship with Sakasteew exemplifies our approach to business development, highlighted by active engagement with local and regional businesses in an effort to identify mutually beneficial economic opportunities. We require a myriad of goods and services to run our operations safely and responsibly, so our list of contractors, including Aboriginally-owned businesses, is extensive. The contract with Sakasteew Transportation at Horizon is part of more than $375 million Canadian Natural awarded to Aboriginal businesses and contractors company-wide in 2015.