We work to build strong relationships with Aboriginal communities and organizations in our operating areas by engaging with communities in a variety of ways, including:

  • Consulting and engaging with them through the entire life cycle of our projects
  • Procuring products and services from Aboriginal businesses
  • Providing community investment funding
  • Supporting employment and training programs

We aim to undertake consultation and engagement with Aboriginal communities in a manner that respects community and regulatory processes, and in some cases, the processes agreed to in our long-term community benefit agreements.

The table below provides an overview of one of our community goals, including examples of how we’re working towards it. Learn more in this section about how we’re building strong relationships with Aboriginal communities and organizations.

Our goal Our recent performance examples

To build strong relationships with our local Aboriginal communities and provide opportunities that will benefit both the communities and Cenovus.

  • In 2016, we spent $198 million doing business with Aboriginal companies, which was 19 percent of our total capital spend
  • We awarded 17 scholarships valued at $3,500 each for Aboriginal students pursuing a full-time degree, diploma or certified trade
  • From 2009 to early 2017, we surpassed $2 billion in cumulative business spending with local and Aboriginal companies in our operating areas

We’ve signed long-term benefit agreements with nine Aboriginal communities around our oil sands operating areas. These agreements provide certainty for the communities and for Cenovus as we develop our projects, which is an advantage for everyone, particularly during times of oil price volatility. One of the founding principles of these agreements is that the communities and Cenovus commit to engagement processes and principles for the life of the agreement. This helps ensure the lines of communication are always open, so we can build sustainable, respectful relationships. Cenovus also commits to continue to invest in the communities for the life of our projects. We believe this commitment helps the communities plan for their future knowing that Cenovus will continue to support them regardless of market conditions.

As part of the implementation process for the benefit agreements, we typically meet with each community several times per year to help ensure we’re honouring our commitments and to maintain a strong relationship. The agreements provide guidance and outline a process for a number of key aspects of the relationship, including:

We engage with communities regularly to provide updates on project plans and operations, and to conduct formal consultation on new development. These discussions also help community members understand the potential benefits that may be available. As part of the agreements, we set a pre-defined process for consultation, providing certainty and predictability on how and when we will engage with each community. A process for engagement at the senior leadership level also exists within our agreements. Lastly, we provide capacity funding to ensure each community has the resources and support they may need to conduct consultation with us.

We recognize that challenges or disagreements with our communities may arise over the course of our projects. We have a process in place in the agreements to deal with any issues that come up so we are able to address communities’ concerns while maintaining a good relationship with them.

Long-term agreement benefits include funding which can be used for education and training to help community members prepare to participate in job opportunities that could arise with Cenovus or with contractors and suppliers in the area. In addition, community development funding may be spent on community enhancement projects relating to healthy living, the environment, arts and culture, preservation of traditional heritage, recreation and other areas.

Hiring local businesses and sourcing local contract services is an important part of how we do business. While each agreement is different, generally we outline processes and practices to help ensure Aboriginal business usage remains a priority over the long term.


Cenovus endeavours to procure goods and services from local providers whenever possible. Given many of our closest neighbours are Aboriginal communities, we work hard to maintain good relationships with local Aboriginal businesses. This approach has helped us meet the needs of our operations while also supporting local economic development.

We expect that our industry will continue to face economic challenges associated with oil price volatility. While this impacts our planned capital expenditure overall, working with local Aboriginal businesses will continue to be a priority for Cenovus. Our Aboriginal business spend as a percentage of total capital spend in 2016 was 19 percent, a reflection of our effort to engage Aboriginal suppliers as well as the growing number of qualified Aboriginal-run businesses. From 2009 to early 2017, we surpassed $2 billion in cumulative spend doing business with local and Aboriginal companies in our operating areas.

Learn more about some of the local Aboriginal companies we’re doing business with in our operating areas »


Our Employment Bridging Internship Program gives us an opportunity to work closely with Aboriginal communities and organizations near our operating areas in northern Alberta to identify internship candidates who are interested in working toward a career in the oil and gas industry. This unique program provides training and paid work opportunities for eligible Aboriginal participants. In early 2016, two participants began their internship at our Foster Creek oil sands project.


At Cenovus, we embrace the opportunity to contribute to the strength and sustainability of the communities in our operating areas. That’s one reason why we provide support for post-secondary education for Aboriginal students living in the communities where we operate.

Each year, we offer up to 10 new scholarships for Aboriginal students who are pursuing a full-time degree, diploma or certified trade. These scholarships are valued at $3,500 each. In 2016, we awarded 17 scholarships in total, including renewing seven scholarships for students continuing in their programs.

Ryan Schaub is one of the students who has benefitted from our Aboriginal Scholarship program. For the past three years, Cenovus has provided financial support for him to work towards his Bachelor of Science from the University of Alberta.

Learn more about Ryan’s story »

Learn more about the Cenovus Aboriginal Scholarship program »

Cenovus Aboriginal Scholarship program

Scholarship recipient, Ryan Schaub, during an internship at Shuswap General Hospital.

Since 2010, we’ve also been partnering with the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) on the Aboriginal Youth Leadership Program. During that time, 70 young people from Aboriginal communities near our operations have participated in a week-long course designed to help Aboriginal youth develop key business and life skills.

Learn more about the NAIT Aboriginal Youth Leadership program »

NAIT Aboriginal Leadership program

Natashi Janvier participating in the NAIT Aboriginal Leadership program.


Aboriginal business spend

Aboriginal business spend

Our total Aboriginal business spending was lower in 2016 as a result of the continued decrease in our company-wide capital spending. However, the percentage of total company spending undertaken with local Aboriginal companies increased in 2016 to 19 percent. In early 2017, Cenovus’s total cumulative spending with Aboriginal businesses since the company’s launch in 2009 surpassed $2 billion.