Indigenous communities grapple with new relationship with oilsands industry

Several Indigenous communities north of Fort McMurray are undergoing a monumental shift in their relationships with the oilsands industry.

Leaders who once partnered with environmentalists and hosted Hollywood stars are now changing course

WATCH: One Indigenous community's complicated relationship with the oilsands

CBC News Edmonton

2 years ago
Historically Indigenous communities in Northern Alberta have opposed the oilsands. That’s changing. Fourteen Indigenous groups have made deals with Teck Resources whose proposed oilsands project is undergoing an environmental review. But, as the CBC’s David Thurton found out, there’s still unease in one northern community about the project. 4:42

Several Indigenous communities north of Fort McMurray are undergoing a monumental shift in their relationships with the oilsands industry.

Fort Chipewyan's Indigenous leaders, who once partnered with environmentalists and hosted Hollywood stars like Leonardo DiCaprio and Jane Fonda, have now signed deals with industry.

Last month, the Athabasca Chipewyan and Mikisew Cree First Nations joined 12 other Indigenous groups in signing participation agreements with Teck Resources, which is developing the $20.6 billion Frontier Mine.

CBC News travelled to Fort Chipewyan to speak to the Dene, Cree and Métis communities about the mine.

Watch the mini-documentary above to hear how community members are grappling with the new direction the community is taking.

The Frontier Mine is under review by the Alberta Energy Regulator and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

Connect with David Thurton, CBC's Fort McMurray correspondent, on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn or email him at david.thurton@cbc.ca 

About the Author

David Thurton is a national reporter in CBC's Parliamentary Bureau. He's worked for CBC in Fort McMurray, the Maritimes and in Canada's Arctic.