Fostering Respect and Mutual Understanding
Canadian Natural often works on, or in close proximity to, traditional Indigenous land. We value our relationships and meet regularly with communities to discuss issues that matter. Our approach to building and maintaining positive relationships focuses on building mutual understanding and developing respect. Learning about traditional cultures, how local communities interact with wildlife, and seeking to understand how the landscape has changed over the years is part of our long-term commitment to these communities to further enhance our practices.
Some of this work includes:
- investing in community needs;
- applying traditional knowledge to reclamation and project planning; and
- hiring local businesses to support our operations.
Canadian Natural’s responsibilities and commitments when working with Indigenous communities are outlined in our Indigenous Relations Policy.
Canadian Natural regularly consults with Indigenous communities across our Western Canadian operations. We seek input regarding proposed development plans through ongoing, proactive two-way communication and have formalized processes to support our work with Indigenous communities.
Formal consultation is an ongoing dialog process completed in accordance with a development plan that meets provincial or federal consultation requirements. Canadian Natural’s senior management also plays a role in our consultation efforts through leadership meetings and reporting.
When developing a project-specific consultation plan, Canadian Natural works with each Indigenous community to understand its individual consultation and public engagement needs and requirements, along with provincial or federal jurisdiction.
Canadian Natural adheres to the following engagement objectives:
- Determine a process to collect meaningful input regarding ongoing and proposed development plans through proactive two-way communication with each community.
- Work with communities to ensure a timely and successful regulatory application process.
- Work to continuously enhance responsible operations through acknowledging and gathering input from communities (i.e. mitigating environmental, health, and safety concerns).
- Identify and address issues and concerns in an efficient and timely manner.
- Identify opportunities for mutual benefit in the areas of community investment, education and training, employment, and business development.
Through the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), Canadian Natural supports the federal government’s decision to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as a framework for reconciliation in Canada, along with implementation of its principles in a manner that is consistent with the Canadian constitution and law. On areas relevant to the oil and natural gas industry, Canadian Natural will be a constructive, thoughtful partner while a framework for reconciliation is developed.
Understanding Indigenous history, and celebrating the diverse traditions of Indigenous cultures, plays a significant role in helping build long-lasting relationships. Attending/supporting Indigenous events are valuable opportunities to support many of our stakeholders and be a part of broad-reaching and deeply meaningful gatherings.
For example, we support the Grande Prairie Aboriginal Circle of Service (GPACOS), a group that works with many organizations to strengthen services for Indigenous Peoples in the area. Its mission is to find solutions that honour and respect the traditions, heritage, values and beliefs of the Indigenous community.
Canadian Natural incorporates traditional knowledge into our reclamation and closure plans for our oil sands mining and upgrading operations. Together with the Fort McKay Community Advisory Group, we developed and implemented traditional protocols for tree planting, which include private Smudge Ceremonies and the teachings of Tobacco Blessings with Fort McKay Elders prior to tree planting on the Albian and Horizon sites.
When developing new projects, we recognize environmental, historical and cultural aspects associated with operating in or near those areas. Our management approach includes the following:
- Conducting a title search to identify ownership of the lands for proposed development, indicating whether or not our proposed development is on crown land, freehold land, in a provincial or federal park, etc.
- Reviewing the provincial Listing of Historic Resources to determine if a proposed development may affect historic or cultural resources, including archaeological and paleontological sites, Indigenous traditional use sites of a historic resource nature (burial, ceremonial sites etc.), and/or historic structures.
- Working closely with provincial parks or Parks Canada if the proposed development falls on provincial or federal park lands. If it does, we determine the steps involved, including Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) required.
- If the proposed development falls on historic lands identified in the listing, we work with provincial culture and tourism authorities, and perform Historic Resources Impact Assessments with professional archaeologists as required.
- In some cases, we are required to consult with Indigenous communities for development on these lands.
- In all cases, efforts are committed to minimizing our footprint.
Indigenous Business Development and Employment
We work closely with more than 80 Indigenous companies near our operations in Western Canada to enhance business development and assist in the pre-qualification process.
Through our work with local suppliers, we have developed successful partnerships with community owned, individually owned and joint venture owned companies. We awarded more than $684 million in contracts, a 20% increase from 2021, with 167 Indigenous-owned businesses in 2022.
We participate in Indigenous business advisory groups and work with chambers of commerce, connecting with Indigenous communities and service providers, and relaying important issues back to all levels of government. This way, we support business development by improving the understanding of our pre-qualification, procurement and bidding processes, while strengthening the local contractor community.
For example, we work with the Northeastern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association (NAABA), the Region One Aboriginal Business Association (ROABA), the Athabasca Tribal Council (ATC), the Atoske Action Group (AAG), the Grande Prairie Aboriginal Circle of Services (GPACOS) and the Peace River Aboriginal Interagency Committee (PRAIC).
Canadian Natural’s community representatives also share information about our projects and participate in several Joint Management Advisory and Joint Cooperation Committees, which provide a forum to discuss ongoing operations, employment and business opportunities. We also sponsor programs that aim to increase the number of skilled Indigenous tradespeople.
Working together with locally owned businesses to provide services for our field operations creates mutual value for regional economies where we operate and for our business, building local capacity and long-term relationships with stakeholders.
These businesses cover everything from engineering and construction to food and camp services, and they are also a vital source of community-based skills training, investment and prosperity.
For example, Canadian Natural works with local Indigenous-owned companies to build abandonment and reclamation project capacity. Canadian Natural has been working with many First Nations and Métis communities in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia to abandon inactive wells, pipelines and facilities and to reclaim sites and access roads in these communities.