Fort McKay First Nation lives by the words “inspired by our past, invested in our future.” As a long-standing partner and contributor to the energy sector in Alberta, the Fort McKay Group of Companies was formed in 1986 and Fort McKay-owned companies generate annual revenues of $500M. Over 1,400 employees earn more than $200M in wages and Fort McKay pays over $70M in federal remittances to Canada, including taxes, CPP and EI.
Along with being an industry powerhouse, Fort McKay First Nation also embraces the culture and traditions of our past. The traditions of hunting, trapping, fishing and spiritual connection to the land. That’s why Fort McKay believes in responsible growth that protects Treaty rights and traditional land uses. And that’s why the Moose Lake Plan is so important.
The Moose Lake Plan was developed by Albertans for Albertans. It’s a plan developed with government and industry that respects the 10km zone around Moose Lake. It’s a plan that honours our millennia-old traditions even as it permits managed development. It’s a plan that combines Alberta’s economic interests and its commitment to First Nations culture.
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“Moose Lake” is Fort McKay’s reserves 174A and B and the surrounding area where our ancestors lived for millennia past and is now our last refuge from surrounding oil sands development. It is located 65 km north of Fort McKay’s hamlet reserve. For our members, Moose Lake is essential for the preservation of our culture and way of life and its transmission from older to younger generations. Traditional land uses here include trapping, hunting, fishing and the harvesting of food and medicinal plants.
The Moose Lake Plan is a solution for responsible industry growth in the vicinity of the Moose Lake reserves. Since 2002, we have been working with the Government of Alberta to manage industrial impacts and ensure the integrity of the Moose Lake reserves and the surrounding 10 km management zone (10KMZ). The 10KMZ is needed to protect an area in which we can exercise our Treaty rights and traditional land uses. The Moose Lake Plan is designed to manage access and development in the Moose Lake area, by ensuring development occurs in an orderly, responsible and phased manner that protects the area’s ecological and cultural integrity.
For Fort McKay, responsible growth means continued opportunities for managed economic development that also protects Treaty rights and the ecosystem to support the preservation of our culture and traditional land uses.
A treaty is an agreement, an important tool to ensure that two or more governing bodies maintain a mutually respectful relationship with shared responsibilities. Treaties between Canada’s First Nations and the federal government have been negotiated since before Confederation, and associated right recognized and affirmed in Canada’s Constitution Act (1982).
Just as we respect international treaties between countries, it’s important to respect the treaties established between Canada’s First Nations and the government.
In principle, it’s not. As one of the biggest and earliest First Nations contributors to the energy sector, Fort McKay has been a partner in growing Alberta’s oil sands industry for 30 years. We’re proud of that and are committed to the industry’s future success, which translates into our success, too. The issue is actually responsible development and the requirement that Alberta must uphold the Honour of the Crown and protect the Treaty rights of its long-time partners.
We have appeared before the Court of Appeal to overturn the Alberta Energy Regulator’s approval of Prosper’s Rigel project in the Moose Lake area. AER issued its approval despite the fact we were still developing the Moose Lake Plan with the Government of Alberta -- an initiative first discussed in 2002. Nearly two decades later, this court action is essential to protect our Treaty rights and way of life. But the new Alberta government gives us fresh hope that there’s another way forward.
Together with government, we have come very far to address industry’s concerns to create a vision of responsible growth that is win-win-win for Fort McKay, the oil sands industry and Alberta. The current working draft, the result of four years of sustained effort, addresses the concerns raised by energy, forestry and other stakeholders during extensive consultation. Approval of the Moose Lake Plan will provide regulators with management requirements to guide land use decisions within the 10KMZ, and provide industry with clarity on how to responsibly develop bitumen and forestry resources in this sacred area.
The Moose Lake Plan proves it is possible to grow the oil sands industry, bring prosperity to our communities, and honour Treaty rights at the same time. The Moose Lake Plan is an opportunity for Alberta to show the world that energy development can be a tool for reconciliation. Let’s cross the finish line. Please show your support by sharing our video and signing up for email updates. We all want to grow Alberta’s energy sector; together, we can do it responsibly.