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Up close: Working with indigenous peoples in Western Canada

Preventing or mitigating adverse social impacts and promoting opportunities with local communities are integral parts of ExxonMobil affiliate Imperial’s development plan in the Fort McMurray region of Alberta, Canada.

Throughout the planning, development and construction phases of our projects, we have collaborated with local aboriginal groups, provincial and local governments, and other industries on shared key issues, including infrastructure development, land and water use, regulatory policy, local community support and capacity building.

fort chipewyan elder care centre
Photo — Imperial-funded elder care center in Fort Chipewyan.

However, our engagement does not stop once we have regulatory approval. Continuing to build and strengthen our relationships with the indigenous peoples who have historic cultural connections to the land where our operations are located continues to be important. These communities are our closest neighbors in remote northern Alberta. Working together provides business, training and employment opportunities, which in turn brings economic prosperity to the region. However, the remoteness and isolation of some communities creates other challenges.

Through our ongoing engagement and strong positive relationships with local aboriginal groups, we recognized there were multiple community priorities. For example, the Mikisew Cree First Nation wanted to build a new elder care center in Fort Chipewyan. It would be the first and only long-term care facility in the remote community, and would provide an alternative to relocating seniors who require assisted living to Fort McMurray or other parts of Alberta. Imperial contributed $1 million between 2013 and 2014 toward the development of the facility, which is now available to all Elders in the community. The contribution from Imperial, and those from several other industry sponsors, provided funding for the critical phases of the facility’s construction.