Suncor’s approach to tailings management has continued to evolve based on conversations and feedback from community members in the region. Our end goal is to return all lands disturbed by our oil sands operations to a self-sustaining boreal forest ecosystem and it’s important to us that local Aboriginal communities have a chance to contribute to what that will look like.
In April, Suncor participated in a three-day workshop that was planned by seven local First Nation and Métis communities about one of our reclamation and closure projects. The workshop provided the group of Elders, community members and technical reviewers a chance to learn more about our tailings treatment and closure technology and to actively influence project development and ultimately, Suncor’s closure plan outcomes. The workshop began with a project overview followed by a visit to the site. “Despite the wet and windy conditions that day, I think it was helpful for community members to see the size and scope of the project,” says Christine Daly, senior advisor, Upstream and one of the workshop organizers.
The last two days allowed Elders and land users to discuss various components of the research and monitoring program with the communities’ technical reviewers and Suncor, focusing on understanding the interests and concerns of community members.
“What stood out to me the most was the desire for the communities to have a gathering place at the project site where they could visit regularly and watch the lake and forested watersheds grow so they can develop a new relationship with the land,” says Christine. “Inviting the land users back to the area and onto the project team builds trust that we’re making the right choices for reclamation and closure.”
The workshop was successful and resulted in many takeaways for both community members and Suncor. Hearing traditional stories and learning lessons, such as the importance of water, are key to Suncor adjusting our reclamation and closure programs to better align with the values and knowledge of our Aboriginal communities. This was the first step in future involvement of Aboriginal groups in other activities related to the project such as tree planting, collecting data and monitoring the site itself.
This approach of continuous engagement, gathering traditional knowledge and inclusiveness, will support Suncor and aid in the success of our future reclamation.
This story contains forward-looking information. Please see legal advisories for more information.