Cold Lake First Nations Elder shares cultural knowledge with Cenovus staff

If you take a bird’s-eye view of our Foster Creek operations in northern Alberta, you’ll see a small square of undisturbed land in the middle of our plant site. Though it may seem like just a grouping of trees, the site holds great significance to the people of Cold Lake First Nations (CLFN), as our operations sit on their traditional territory. The area is a sacred site, identified by CLFN members during environmental impact assessment fieldwork. As a result, Cenovus has protected the site from disturbance so it can be preserved. 

The CLFN are Denesułiné and they have many cultural sites in the Foster Creek area because their people lived here prior to the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range being established in the 1950s. 

At Cenovus Energy, we respect the deep history and culture of Indigenous people and believe understanding is a key component of reconciliation. We conduct extensive consultation before activity so we can understand and address Indigenous communities' concerns and interests in our projects. A major part of this consultation process involves educating ourselves on the unique needs and interests of the Indigenous communities in our operating areas. This education is an ongoing process throughout the life of our projects.  

Earlier this year, members of our Foster Creek seismic crew participated in an information session about CLFN before our winter program began, which typically involves seismic and well drilling activities. Presented by Lynda Minoose, Director of Language and Culture and Terri Kutt, Lead Field Technician, for CLFN, the session provided information on the rich history of the Denesułiné of Łuéchogh Túé (Cold Lake) and their cultural connection to this area. 

“Historically, the Dene people in this area were nomadic, so they'd go south in spring and summer to farm, look after livestock, harvest grain and be with their families,” says Terri Kutt. “During the fall and winter, they went back up north to engage in trapping activities. Traditional ways of life are still practiced nowadays, so it’s important that operators in the region know how to identify culturally significant areas so they can be preserved. Cabins, burials, traditional plants, berries and culturally modified trees exist across the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, all of which are a vital part of our cultural practices.” 

As part of our efforts to acknowledge the traditions of CLFN, and to gather information that is relevant to the planning of our construction and expansion activities, we are working with CLFN to ensure that culturally significant areas are identified and flagged within our GIS mapping database.  

“We’ve always included Indigenous considerations into our project planning during the consultation process. But learning more about the history behind these considerations was really impactful,” says, Bruce Dashney, Geophysical Frontline Supervisor at Foster Creek.  

We plan to hold the information sessions again next year with all staff from the Foster Creek winter program.  

“Some of the most important values for the Denesųłiné people are to maintain our language, culture and beliefs in a place of honour with respect and harmony for the future generations. We appreciate the opportunity to partner with Cenovus to help provide context into our way of life and to ensure our perspective is considered in their project plans,” says Lynda. 

Indigenous reconciliation

Learn about our approach to Indigenous reconciliation.

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Find out more about the launch of our $50 million Indigenous Housing Initiative.

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