Aboriginal Peoples


The development of the oil sands can result in shared and potentially conflicting interests between industry and Aboriginal peoples.


The oil sands industry supports the development of strong business relationships and partnerships through trust, respect and honest and open communication.

For Aboriginal communities, improved communication helps identify community interests, concerns and priorities. An effective dialogue can result in agreements to avoid culturally or ecologically significant areas. A solid relationship can result in employment opportunities and opportunities for local service providers.

For industry, good working relationships help ensure access to resources, reduced delays for regulatory approvals, and improved access to service-industry companies and employees.

Economic and employment benefits in the oil sands community

  • There were more than 1,700 Aboriginal employees in permanent operations jobs in the oil sands industry in 2010. Source: OSDG 2011.
  • Over the past 14 years, Aboriginal companies have earned over $8 billion in revenue through working relationships with the oil sands industry. Source: OSDG 2013.
  • In 2011 and 2012, oil sands companies contributed more than $20 million to aboriginal communities in the Wood Buffalo and Lac La Biche regions for school and youth programs, celebrations, cultural events, literacy projects and other community programs. Source: OSDG 2013.
  • Shell, as operator of the Athabasca Oil Sands Project (AOSP) has spent over $1.25 billion with Aboriginal contractors since 2006. Source: Shell Canada 
  • Wood Buffalo and Lac La Biche Aboriginal companies performed over $1.8 billion in contract work with OSDG member companies in 2012. Source: OSDG 2013
  • Thanks to oil sands development, Fort McMurray has become one of the fastest growing communities in North America, with average annual population growth of approximately 5% from 2006-2011. Source: Statistics Canada.
  • The Fort McKay Group of Companies (FMGC), which works extensively with oil sands companies through its six limited companies, brings in more than $150 million in revenue annually and is completely owned and controlled by the Fort McKay First Nation.
    Source: Fort McKay Group of Companies.
  • In 2008, Suncor Energy Inc. surpassed a $1 billion goods and services spending milestone with Aboriginal companies.
  • Syncrude Canada Ltd. is one of 13 companies in Canada, and the only oil sands operator, to be accredited at the Gold Level in the Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) Program of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB). PAR measures corporate performance in Aboriginal employment, business development, capacity development and community relations. Source: Syncrude Canada 

Aboriginal Peoples 

Guiding Principles for
Oil Sands Development: People


  • We will provide a safe environment for our employees, contractors, and the communities where we operate.
  • We will provide employment and business opportunities for regional communities, including
    Aboriginal peoples.
  • We will respectfully engage directly affected stakeholders through all stages of our operations.

View the full list of Guiding Principles for Oil Sands Development

Explore more

The Aboriginal Business Directory is a search engine available to industry and the federal procurement community for identifying Aboriginal business suppliers.

Aborginal Business Directory

Fact Sheet: Aboriginal Peoples and the oil sands industry

View a video vignette on Aboriginal employment and economic benefits