Fort McKay First Nation

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Fort McKay First Nation
Country  Canada
Province  Alberta
Census division Division No. 16
Hudson's Bay Company post built 1820
 • Type First Nations Council
Population (August 2016)
 • Total 851
Time zone UTC-7 (MST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-6 (MDT)
Postal code span T9H 3G4
Area code(s) 780
Website - Fort McKay First Nation Official Website
Fort McKay sign.JPG

The Fort McKay First Nation (FMFN) is a First Nations government in northeast Alberta comprising five Indian reserves – Fort McKay 174, Fort McKay 174C, Fort McKay 174D, Namur Lake 174B and Namur River 174A.[2] The FMFN, signed to Treaty 8, is affiliated with the Athabasca Tribal Council and its members are of Cree and Dene heritage.[3] The FMFN's traditional lands include portions of the Athabasca oil sands.


The Cree expanded steadily westward from the Hudson-James Bay country. Although the arrival of the Cree in the Lac la Biche region, is unknown, archaeological evidence in the form of pre-contact pottery indicates that the Cree were in this region in the 1500s.

The Historic Voyageur Highway

The traditional land of the Fort McKay First Nation was on the historical voyageur route that linked the rich Athabaskan region to Hudson Bay. David Thompson and George Simpson used the fur-trade route via the Beaver River from the main Methye Portage route that reached the Athabasca River.[5]

The Cree, one of the "largest tribes in Canada" were referred to by the early explorers and fur traders as Kristineaux, Kinisteneaux, Kiliston, Kree, Cris and various other names such as Nahathaway.[6][Notes 1] Cree territory extended west from the Hudson-James Bay region to the foot of the Rocky Mountains, and in Alberta, between the north banks of the north Saskatchewan River to Fort Chipewyan. This includes the Beaver, Athabaska and Peace River basins. It is noted in the department of Indian Affairs Annual Reports that Pee-ay-sis of the Lac La Biche band as far north as Great Slave Lake."

Alexander Mackenzie who travelled from Montreal to the Arctic Ocean via the Methy Portage (see map) provided a detailed account of the Kinisteneaux (Cree) in 1789.

Tribal Council

The Athabasca Tribal Council,[Notes 2] represents the interests of Fort McKay First Nation, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Chipewyan Prairie First Nation, Fort McMurray No. 468 First Nation and Mikisew Cree First Nation.[7] These five First Nations of North Eastern Alberta include more than 5,000 Cree and Dene people.

Treaty 8

Treaty 8 was an agreement signed on June 21, 1899, between Queen Victoria and various First Nations of the Lesser Slave Lake area. The Treaty was signed just south of present-day Grouard, Alberta. The land covered by Treaty 8, 840,000 square kilometres (84,000,000 ha)[8] is larger than France and includes northern Alberta, northeastern British Columbia, northwestern Saskatchewan and a southernmost portion of the Northwest Territories.[9] Adhesions to this agreement were signed that same year on July 1 at Peace River Landing, July 6 at Dunvegan, July 8 at Fort Vermilion, July 13 at Fort Chipewyan, July 17 at Smith's Landing, July 25 and 27 at Fond du Lac, August 4 at Fort McMurray, and August 14 at Wabasca Lake. Further Adhesions were in 1900 on May 13 at Fort St. John, June 8 at Lesser Slave Lake, June 23 at Fort Vermilion and July 25 at Fort Resolution.

Traditional land use

"Hunting and trapping is an integral part of the traditional livelihoods for many Fort McKay residents. Therefore, natural ecosystems and wildlife populations preservation is an important component to help maintain a healthy community."[10] The FMFN expressed concerns about cumulative effects[11] and requested that regulators implement the recommendations in the Terrestrial Ecosystem Management Framework (TEMF) in order to maintain wildlife populations (Cumulative Environmental Management Association 2008).[12][13] In a letter to the Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Regulatory Approvals Center regarding the Teck Resources Limited’s (Teck) proposed Frontier Oil Sands Mine Project, on FMFN traditional lands, the FMFN stressed that beaver, moose and wood bison are three of the most important species of great importance to the FMFN. Other key resources indicators (KRI) to consider in assessing the effects on wildlife of oil sands development in their territory, include Black Bear, Fisher, Canada Lynx, Northern Goshawk, Yellow Rail, Short‐eared Owl, Common Nighthawk, Olive‐sided Flycatcher, Canada Warbler, Rusty Blackbird, Waterfowl and Western Toad.[14]


The "Frontier Mine is a major surface mining project, with a total Project footprint of 24,140 ha and with a 50‐year operational life extending from approximately 2020 to 2070 including final closure and reclamation. Closure activities are proposed to be coordinated with the nearby Shell Pierre River Mine (PRM) project located immediately south."[15]


FMFN expressed concern about the degradation of the McMurray Basal Water Sands Aquifer (BWS), through high-volume use through the mining process.[16]

"The hydrogeologic sequence is typical of the mineable area west of the Athabasca River and is comprised of the following units from oldest to youngest:

1) the eroded top of the Devonian sequence, which includes the Slave Point and Waterways Formations; and in the RSA the Devonian section includes both aquifers and aquitards; the Waterways underlies the Project in the LSA;

2) the McMurray Formation, which contains bitumen; portions of the lower McMurray are water saturated (i.e., basal water sand); where present, the basal aquifer appears to be non‐saline; there are also water‐bearing lenses of sand within the ore body (Middle McMurray);

3) the Clearwater Formation; (aquitard); composed of shale and siltstone; in places the Wabiskaw D sand of the lower Clearwater also contains bitumen;

4) Quaternary sediments including undifferentiated glacial deposits and buried channels and glacial surficial deposits (contains aquifers and aquitards); and

5) Post‐glacial (Recent or Holocene) fluvial fan deposits containing permeable saturated sand (aquifer)."

— FMFN, 2012, 105

Dover Moose Lake oilsands SAGD project

The Fort McKay First Nation requested "a 20-kilometre no-development zone on part of the oilsands leases near its traditional lands at Moose Lake." On 6 August 2013, Alberta Energy Regulator’s (AER) denied the FMFN appeal arguing that the Dover oilsands project using steam-assisted gravity drainage technology (SAGD) development would have little impact on FMNN lands. On October 18, 2013 On Friday, Justice Frans Slatter of the Alberta Court of Appeal gave Fort MacKay First Nation leave to appeal the AER's August 6 approval of the Athabasca Oil Corporation's 250,000-barrel-per-day thermal oilsands project, Dover.[Notes 3] The Fort MacKay First Nation's lawyer, Karen Buss, predicts that the new panel might "order the regulator to start its process over with direction to consider treaty rights issues identified by the band."[17]

See also


  1. ^ This is the full-text diary of David Thompson which includes numerous references to the Nahathaway in general and to the First Nations of the Lac la Biche region in particular. He describes their belief in life after death and consequences on the human soul for crimes and misdeeds.
  2. ^ A Tribal Council, is "an association of Native American bands in the United States or First Nations governments in Canada, or (2) the governing body for certain tribes within the United States or elsewhere (since ancient times). They are generally formed along regional, ethnic or linguistic lines."
  3. ^ "The Dover project is operated by Brion, a joint venture between Calgary-based Athabasca Oil Corp., with 40 per cent of Dover, and Chinese oil giant PetroChina, which owns 60 per cent."


  1. ^ Government of Alberta, 2012 & 21.
  2. ^ AINC 2013.
  3. ^ FMFNa nd.
  4. ^ Cumberland House founded in 1774 was one of the most important fur trade depots in Canada. To the north the Sturgeon-Weir River led to the Churchill River which led to the Methye Portage and to Lake Athabaska in the rich Athabasca Country to the northwest. See Canadian canoe routes (early).
  5. ^ LLB 2003.
  6. ^ Thompson, 1916 & 79.
  7. ^ ATC 2009a.
  8. ^ AADNC 2013.
  9. ^ "1899 Treaty 8". Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre. 2009. Retrieved August 1, 2009.
  10. ^ FMFN, 2012 & 32.
  11. ^ Korber 2001.
  12. ^ FMFN, 2012 & 48.
  13. ^ Stantec 2012.
  14. ^ FMFN, 2012 & 31.
  15. ^ FMFN & 2012 105.
  16. ^ FMFN & 2012 106.
  17. ^ Healing 2013.


  • AADNC (August 30, 2013). "Treaty Texts - Treaty No. 8". Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. Retrieved September 20, 2009.
  • AINC (February 12, 2013), First Nation Detail: Fort McKay First Nation, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, archived from the original on September 27, 2013, retrieved August 14, 2013
  • ATC (2009), Homepage of the Athabaska Tribal Council, Athabasca Tribal Council, retrieved November 26, 2013
  • ATC (2009a), What is a Tribal Council, Athabasca Tribal Council, retrieved November 26, 2013
  • Dickason, Olive (1992), Canada's First Nations:A History of Founding Peoples from Earliest Times, University of Oklahoma Press, ISBN 9780806124391
  • FMFN (June 2012). Oil Sands (PDF) (Report). Fort McKay First Nation.
  • FMFNa (nd), About Fort McKay: Visitors, Fort MacKay First Nation, retrieved August 9, 2013
  • GC (2009), "Treaty 8", Government of Canada, Library and Archives Canada, retrieved August 1, 2009
  • Healing, Dan (October 18, 2013), Update: Oilsands project faces months of delay: Athabasca stock crashes in wake of court decision on oilsands facility, Calgary Herald, retrieved October 18, 2013
  • LLB (February 2003), Lac La Biche Chronological History, Lac La Biche Historical Society, retrieved September 21, 2013
  • Korber (May 15–17, 2001), Workshop on Cumulative Effects of Development in the Treaty 8 Area: Exploring a Research Program (PDF), Fort St. John, BC: Sustainable Forest Management Network, University of Alberta, retrieved November 7, 2007
  • Marchildon, Greg; Robinson, Sid (2002), Canoeing the Churchill A Practical Guide to the Historic Voyageur Highway, Regina: University of Regina, pp. 353–372, ISBN 0-88977-148-0
  • Stantec (2012), Cumulative Environmental Management Association. Lower Athabasca Region Source and Emission Inventory. Draft, Air Working Group, Stantec Consulting Ltd., ENVIRON. International Corporation and Clearstone Engineering Ltd.
  • Thompson, David (1916). J. B. Tyrrell, ed. David Thompson's Narrative of his explorations in Western America 1784-1812. Toronto: Champlain Society.

Further reading

  • Olive Dickason (1992). Canada's First Nations:A History of Founding Peoples from Earliest Times. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 9780806124391.
  • Marchildon, Greg; Robinson, Sid (2002). Canoeing the Churchill A Practical Guide to the Historic Voyageur Highway. Regina: University of Regina. pp. 353–372. ISBN 0-88977-148-0.

External links

  • Confederacy of Treaty 8 First Nations
  • The Making of Treaty 8 - Alberta Online Encyclopedia
  • Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta
  • Treaty Texts - Treaty No. 8
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