Indigenous Relations

Canada’s oil and natural gas producers work with Indigenous communities to achieve mutual benefits from responsible resource development, while mitigating environmental and social impacts of resource development. Indigenous communities and industry both benefit when strong relations are built on mutual trust and respect.

The oil and natural gas industry understands the importance of reconciliation in Canada, and considers natural resource development to be linked to the broader Canadian reconciliation process. Responsible resource development contributes to reconciliation by supporting Indigenous economic prosperity and increased self-determination.

A Path Forward

The industry’s strongest role is though ‘economic reconciliation.’ CAPP defines economic reconciliation, within the broader work of reconciliation, as identifying and finding feasible ways to share economic opportunities arising from resource development, while continuing to learn, improve and grow strong relationships with Indigenous communities. Industry believes this is the strongest contribution and best path forward, and will ultimately help build a better Canada.

Of course, shared economic opportunities are only part of industry’s engagement with Indigenous peoples. Consultation and meaningful community participation are critical to engagement between industry and Indigenous peoples. Environmental collaboration forms an equally important part of engagement, and industry acknowledges the strong role Indigenous knowledge can play to inform environmental management.

Indigenous Peoples and Communities in Canada

Indigenous peoples living in Canada include First Nations, Métis and Inuit. About 1.7 million people, or 5% of Canada’s population, identify as Indigenous.

There are more than 630 First Nation communities in Canada, including more than 50 distinct Nations and language groups. Métis have their own collective identity, customs, and way of life that is unique and distinct from First Nations and Inuit. Inuit are also a distinct Indigenous group – the majority live in 51 communities spread across Inuit Nunangat, the Inuit homeland. Their territory encompasses 35% of Canada’s landmass and 50% of the coastline.


Energy Development and Indigenous Peoples

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. The industry has made much progress to date. Over time, there has been a trend toward broader approaches to engagement, with a greater emphasis on helping to address needs identified by Indigenous communities.

Respect and Trust

Industry has made building respectful and mutually beneficial relationships with Indigenous peoples a priority in its work. Opportunities for learning and improvement continue to arise. The oil and natural gas industry is open to meaningful dialogue, and developing respectful relationships and partnerships that lead to mutual benefits and a strong shared future.

Podcast: Why ownership changes everything: Indigenous communities take the lead in resource development

Bob Merasty, executive director for the Indigenous Resource Network, discusses the growing confidence and desire of Indigenous communities in Canada to create sustainable futures for themselves by becoming equal partners in oil and natural gas development.

robert (bob) merasty

Mutually Beneficial Energy Development

Successful engagement begins with clear expectations on the part of companies and communities, including an understanding of needs, scope, risks, schedule and goals. In short, there is a need for balance when it comes to engagement between the industry and Indigenous peoples.

The energy sector, governments and Indigenous peoples are finding new ways to work together. Actions include consultation, procurement, equity partnerships, consultation capacity funding, agreements; community investment, and training, skills development and employment.

Indigenous partnership builds wilderness lodge for workers

Sukunka Lodge will house up to 700 workers on the Coastal GasLink pipeline project in northern B.C., with West Moberly First Nations playing a lead role.

Aerial view of Sukunka Lodge in Northeastern B.C., home to workers on the Coastal GasLink pipeline. Photo courtesy TC Energy.

Community Investment

Community investment is an important aspect of industry’s relationship with Indigenous communities. Through community investment, companies can support social and cultural priorities, or help to meet infrastructure needs. Community investment can come in many forms: sponsoring local sports teams, funding cultural events, or building facilities.

  • From 2017 to 2019, industry’s Indigenous community investment spending in the oil sands region rose from $21 million to $32 million.
  • Oil sands industry spending on consultation funding rose from $15 million in 2017 to $28 million in 2019.

VIDEO: An Indigenous Stake in Energy

Steve Paikin of TVO and a panel of experts discuss Indigenous ownership of Trans Mountain and how oil and natural gas can be a path to economic reconciliation.

This bar graphic shows total procurement spend with Indigenous companies has increased from $1.55 billion in 2017 to $2.36 billion in 2019.

Indigenous Communities and Canada’s Oil Sands

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.

In 2019, the oil sands industry spent about $2.4 billion on procurement from Indigenous businesses, which is 16% higher than in 2018 (about $2 billion) and 53% higher than in 2017 (about $1.5 billion) (Source: CAPP, Indigenous Supply Chain, 2020).

The number of Indigenous suppliers has also grown, from 263 in 2017 to 275 in 2019, with 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.

Oil sands spends $2.4 billion on Indigenous partnerships

New data shows increased Indigenous participation in the oil sands’ far-reaching supply chain, creating jobs and economic opportunity.

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