The environmental and social impacts of oil sands development are generally well documented. As the development intensifies, concerns over these impacts have multiplied. Because oil sands operations in the Athabasca region are located on lands traditionally and currently used by First Nation and Métis peoples, these impacts particularly affect the local Aboriginal communities. Aboriginal peoples have raised concerns about environmental and socio-economic impacts since the early days of oil sands development in the 1960s. Unfortunately, these effects are not well understood and are only beginning to be documented. The question this paper seeks to address is the following: how is Alberta fulfilling its constitutional obligations to consult and accommodate Aboriginal peoples in the oil sands development process?
This paper was prepared as part of a research project on key legal and policy issues in oil sands development funded by the Alberta Law Foundation.