Keywords: Mikisew Cree First Nations, Oilsands, Corporate Social Responsibility, development,materiality
1. Overview of Oilsands Operations and Impacts
Attracting 60% of all global petroleum investment (Nikiforuk, 2008, 1), Canada’soilsands occupy an area roughly the size of Greece (Suzuki, 2011). Despite investmentstotalling around 200 billion, “no comprehensive assessment of environmental,economic, or social impact has been done”, nor has the Federal or ProvincialGovernment developed a plan for oilsands utilization (Nikiforuk. 2008, 2). Instead, thedirection of development has been driven solely by investment, simultaneously positioning Canada as the largest supplier of US oil and giving foreign investorssubstantial control over the fate of the Albertan environment (Ibid, 2, 69). Bitumen isdug up, heated and centrifugally separated from dirt, or else it is pumped directly out of the ground by forcing steam deep underground (Earley, 2003, 59). It takes theexcavation of two tons of earth and use of three barrels of water to produce one barrel of oil, while every day, the industry uses enough natural gas to heat six million homes(Nikiforuk. 2008, 3-4). Over 2 million barrels are produced daily, and production hasrequired the creation of over 50 square miles of tailings ponds, which tower over 270feet above the forest floor and hold the toxic, sludgy water which has been used toseparate the bitumen from the dirt, or to force it out of the ground (Ibid; Earley, 2003,59). Undoubtedly, the oilsands are one of the largest projects on earth, whether in termsof capital investment, scale of development, or environmental impact.