Wood Buffalo is home to people from aross Canada and around the world, each with rich and diverse cultural traditions. But before Wood Buffalo became a destination for people from other places, before the fur-traders of the 18th century discovered the beauty and natural resources of the region, Alberta's First Nations lived on this land, as they still do today.
Evidence of local First Nations people inhabiting Wood Buffalo dates back more than 8,000 years. Artifacts found on mine sites, including, spear points, arrowheads and stone tools, have helped archeologists unearth the rich aboriginal heritage of this region.
The Dene, ancestors of today’s Chipewyan and Beaver people, along with the Cree people, have occupied Wood Buffalo on a permanent basis for more than 3,000 years, hunting caribou and following migration patterns across the region. More recently, Wood Buffalo became the traditional home of the Métis people whose proud First Nation and French heritage forms an important part of the region’s cultural fabric.
Today, Aboriginal businesses play a vital role in Wood Buffalo’s economy. In 2010, Aboriginal-owned companies reported over $1.3 billion in oil sands contracts. And with portions of the oilsands located on Treaty 8 land, the knowledge and opinions of First Nations and Métis stakeholders remain an essential component in the future of development of the oilsands.
The legacy of the First Nations is passed on from one generation to the next in Wood Buffalo. Ceremonies, dance, music, and stories help to keep the traditional culture of First Nations alive. Through education and performance at the many festivals held in Wood Buffalo thoughout the year, residents can learn about our region's cultural heritage, and the traditions of those who were here before us.
To learn more about the Aborginal people of Wood Buffalo, visit the following websites:
- Mikisew Cree First Nation
- Fort McKay First Nation
- Fort McMurray Metis Local 1935
- Athabasca Tribal Council