Extracting knowledge: Social science, environmental impact assessment, and Indigenous consultation in the oil sands of Alberta, Canada

Janelle Marie Baker, Clinton N. Westman

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article provides a critical overview of consultation, impact assessment, and traditional land use research as these methods of extracting knowledge intersect in the oil sands region of northern Alberta. Based on our experience as anthropologists working in policy analysis, consultation, impact assessment, and community-engaged ethnographic research with impacted communities, we examine public participation and risk assessment procedures, including those conducted through documents and those conducted through personal or group interviews − primarily with Crees. Alberta's oil sands industry has expanded exponentially in recent decades; however, consultation, impact assessment, and accommodation of Cree, Dene, and Métis interests in the region have not kept up with best practices established during the same timeframe. We point to a number of examples where consultation and impact assessment processes have supported an overall political economic push to develop the oil sands as quickly as possible. We argue for improved participatory processes to inform more open political and scientific debate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-153
Number of pages10
JournalExtractive Industries and Society
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan. 2018

Keywords

  • Alberta
  • Canada
  • Consultation
  • Impact assessment
  • Indigenous peoples
  • Oil sands
  • Traditional land use

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