Cumulative Environmental Management Association 

Habitat Reclamation Policy Guidance

CEMA’s Wildlife Task Group (WTG) was expecting upcoming revisions of reclamation policies for oil sands mining operations to remediate wildlife habitats in the Fort McMurray region. The WTG wanted to ensure there was a process that allowed for the inclusion of Aboriginal perspectives of wildlife and wildlife habitat reclamation rooted in traditional knowledge and Aboriginal research and monitoring approaches. 

Our team designed a unique research process that facilitated respectful and effective engagement with Aboriginal participants. We held two workshops in the fall of 2014 with representatives from Aboriginal communities in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo to obtain design input for the planned participatory engagement process. Community participants reflected on their engagement experiences and what components of a process would be critical to ensure they were engaged and involved in revisions to reclamation manuals. Our team also ensured that CEMA, Aboriginal participants and industry representatives were engaged at key touch points in the decision-making process. The participatory research was used to document and interpret the viewpoints of Aboriginal communities. SVS was able to effectively elicit the priorities of Aboriginal communities for the future reclamation and monitoring of wildlife and wildlife habitats.

Value for the Client Group

The participatory research process enabled Aboriginal communities to include their input into decisions and ensured the appropriate  reflection of their values in reclamation guidance material. It furthered a relationship of trust and collaboration between CEMA and local Aboriginal groups where each could share and benefit from differing cultural perspectives and knowledge.

Aboriginal groups in the region provided input into the decision-making process that would affect the future health of their homelands and resources they have been stewarding since time immemorial. Because of their ongoing experience and knowledge of the land, local Indigenous communities equipped CEMA with key insights into the history and health of the land and its inhabitants.


Budget: $45,000

Fort McMurray, Alberta




Creative Engagement


The goal of research is to make a contribution . . . that may influence policy and practice or will become the basis for other people’s learning. There is therefore a huge responsibility to ‘get it right,’ to make it credible and to approach it with rigour and intensity.

– Zina O’Leary

Related Projects

Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency

Environmental Assessment Policy Guidance

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