Indigenous Relations

Corporate Responsibility

Indigenous Relations

We often work on or are in close proximity to traditional Indigenous land. We value our Indigenous neighbours, and meet regularly with these communities to discuss issues that matter and work to build and maintain positive relationships in a responsible and meaningful way. Through understanding, respect and cooperation, we strive to maintain strong relationships. Learning about traditional cultures, wildlife and how the landscape has changed over the years is part of our long-term commitment to these communities to further enhance our practices.


We seek input regarding proposed development plans through ongoing proactive two-way communication that helps to identify and address issues and opportunities. Canadian Natural has formalized processes and guiding principles in place to support our work with Indigenous communities. Our Indigenous consultation work is in accordance with a plan that meets provincial 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 their individual consultation and public engagement needs and requirements, according to each jurisdiction. Canadian Natural regularly consults with Indigenous communities across our Western Canada operations.

Canadian Natural adheres to five key communication and consultation objectives:

    1. Seek meaningful input regarding proposed development plans through ongoing proactive two-way communication;
    2. Identify and address any issues;
    3. Contribute to Canadian Natural’s broader goals of responsible operations (i.e. mitigating environmental, health, and safety concerns by acknowledging, considering and incorporating input from communities);
    4. Fulfill regulatory requirements related to public consultation and communications to support a timely and successful regulatory application process; and
    5. Achieve a high level of community acceptance.

Through the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), Canadian Natural supports the federal government’s decision to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as a framework for reconciliation in Canada, and the implementation of its principles in a manner that is consistent with the Canadian Constitution and law. On areas that are relevant to the oil and natural gas industry, Canadian Natural will be a constructive, thoughtful partner while a framework for reconciliation is developed.

In addition, our Code of Integrity, Business Ethics and Conduct and Statement of Human Rights are integrated into our contracts for service providers, operators and management in all activities.

For more highlights of stakeholder engagements and consultation see our 2018 Stewardship Report to Stakeholders.

Celebrating Indigenous cultures

Understanding Indigenous history, and celebrating traditions and the diverse Indigenous cultures, play a significant role in helping build long-lasting relationships. These events are great opportunities to support many of our stakeholders and be a part of broad reaching and deeply meaningful gatherings. For highlights of how we engage with Indigenous communities read our 2018 Stewardship Report to Stakeholders.

Impact Assessments

For major projects, to support Canadian Natural’s understanding of the potential project related impacts on treaty or traditional lands, our consultation plans commonly include assessments to measure potential impacts. Environmental and socioeconomic impact assessments highlight any regional risks to be addressed in project planning. We also support Indigenous communities to document traditional land use and/or current use in order to mitigate potential impacts to the extent possible. Canadian Natural also documents traditional ecological knowledge that is shared and considered when compiling baseline environmental information, developing monitoring programs and planning mitigation throughout the duration of our projects (e.g. reclamation).

Fort McKay Elders blessed tree planting at the AOSP mines, as part of traditional planting protocol to address the spiritual component of reclamation.

Historic and cultural sites

When developing new projects, we recognize environmental, historical and cultural aspects associated with operating in or near those areas, and work very closely with the respective administrative authorities, following our corporate statement regarding the environment. Our approach includes:

  • Title search — this identifies ownership of the lands for proposed development, as to whether or not our proposed development is on crown land, freehold land, in a provincial or federal park, etc.
  • Review of 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.
  • If the proposed development falls on provincial or federal park lands, we work closely with provincial parks or Parks Canada to determine steps involved, including Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) as required.
  • If the proposed development falls on any 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 respective Indigenous Communities for development on these lands.
  • In all cases, efforts are committed to minimizing our footprint.

Archaeological approach to mine planning

The Athabasca Oil Sands Project (AOSP) mines are surrounded by significant archaeological sites, including Quarry of the Ancestors and Creeburn Lake. Over 9,000 years ago ancient people used to come this area to obtain Beaver River Sandstone for tool-making, trade and to have cultural ceremonies. The discovery of the Quarry of the Ancestors is one of the most important archaeological finds in northern Alberta and is of cultural importance to surrounding stakeholder communities. It is protected under government legislation. If artifacts or cultural material is discovered, work is stopped and Canadian Natural’s Environment Department is immediately contacted to ensure the integrity of these findings.