Gold and glitz filled the room at MacDonald Island Park in Fort McMurray for the annual Suncor Community Reception, held on May 10. It was an opportunity for community leaders and Suncor representatives to gather and connect. 

Acknowledgement was given throughout the evening for local Mikisew Cree First Nation Chief, Peter Powder — a respected community leader who sadly passed away only days before. 

Between performances honouring former Chief Powder by War Cry, an Indigenous drumming group, the event provided an opportunity to highlight improving safety in the region; recognizing the Suncor Energy Foundation’s (SEF’s) 25 years in action; highlighting the release of the 2022 edition of Pathways Indigenous Review magazine and an outlook for the future. Throughout the evening many people took the stage, including special guests Elder Lorraine Albert and municipal councillor Allan Grandison. 

A group of five Indigenous drummers on a stage. They are sitting in a semi-circle around a large drum.
Indigenous drumming Group, War Cry, honoured local Mikisew Cree First Nation Chief, Peter Powder – a respected community leader who sadly passed away only days before the event. 

Peter Zebedee, Executive Vice President, Mining and Upgrading, was also on-hand to provide an update in some key areas. 

“We’re advancing safety improvements through the implementation of mine technologies such as collision awareness and fatigue technology,” said Peter. “On the culture front, we’re adopting Human and Organizational Performance principles or HOP, a lesser known but hugely powerful change we’ve made to guide the way we approach incidents and potential incidents.”

Moving to a community focus, Peter was proud to announce that SEF has donated more than $85 million in Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo over the past 25 years. Last year alone, nearly $6 million helped to benefit the region through financial and other support. More than the dollars and cents, local employees contributed more than 33,000 volunteer hours and donated about $4million through the employee giving program, SunCares. 

Another example of community support was showcased through Pathways Indigenous Review magazine —a publication focused on Indigenous Peoples and their stories. Originally produced by Syncrude, it was continued last year as Suncor became the operator of Syncrude

“This fantastic magazine shares stories of Indigenous Peoples through their own voices,” said Peter. “We are committed to building and fostering mutually beneficial relationships with Indigenous Peoples. We’re doing this not only through our everyday business, but also through publications like Pathways magazine, which can help us all deepen our understanding and knowledge of Indigenous culture and history, and the Journey of Reconciliation.”  

A magazine on display with five drummers in the background.
Indigenous Review, Pathways magazine was highlighted for guests. The magazine shares Indigenous Peoples voices and stories through their own lens.  

Lastly, the evening wrapped up with the message that the long-term oil sands outlook remains steady, and that Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo plays a critical role. 

“You heard last month that we intend to increase our position in the oil sands through a purchase of TotalEnergies’ oil sands assets,” added Peter. “Our focus now will be to ensure our continued viability by improving the competitiveness of our business. Competition for investment is fierce and that’s especially true when you’re trying to attract investment in the oil sands.”

Peter went on to highlight advancement in projects and initiatives such as the cogeneration project at Base Plant and the Pathways Alliance initiative. He noted that continued collaboration in the region is key to future success.

“I want to reinforce the pride I have in Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo and in Suncor as an organization. Together, we share a rich history and a bright future,” said Peter. “It’s important to me, personally, that we deliver on our commitments by fostering deep relationships with our neighbours, operating our facilities safely and reliably, and continuing our support for this great community.”

“Becoming more competitive — as an industry, and as a region — will enable our shared success.”