Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo Wins Global ‘City Nation Place’ Award

Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo has won an international award that recognizes a world-leading level of community engagement for the development of the region’s place brand. On behalf of the region, Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo Economic Development and Tourism (FMWBEDT) is proudly accepting the world-renowned City Nation Place Award for Best Citizen Engagement.

“From the onset, it was vital that the region’s identity be truly authentic and meaningful to the people who live here,” says Kevin Weidlich, President and CEO of FMWBEDT. “International awards contribute to our economic success by placing our region on the world stage and showcasing our place as a competitive destination for investment, visitors, and talent. Place branding is the new economic development and tourism and this award signals that, by working together, we are heading in the right direction.”

Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo successfully competed against top finalists in the same award category from the Nordic region and regions in the Netherlands, Slovenia, and Tasmania. This required considerable time and effort from the community to co-create an authentic place brand – all while during a global pandemic.

“It’s rewarding to see everyone’s contributions have this kind of impact,” says Michelle Toner, Executive Director of the Northeastern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association (NAABA). “Continually listening and seeking to understand each other is the single most important thing we can do as a region. This award demonstrates that when we work together, we win together.”

Judges hailing from across the globe including Dubai, Australia, and France, were impressed with the breadth and depth of engagement with citizens and stakeholders achieved by the team at FMWBEDT. They felt that this “listen-first” approach represented best practice and created a strong foundation for the success of the new regional place brand.

“We are delighted to recognize and present Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo with this global award,” says Clare Dewhirst, Founder and Director of City Nation Place. “With entries from every continent, and from all sizes of cities, regions, and nations, we congratulate the region for grabbing the attention of our Jury with your leading best practice approach in citizen engagement executed flawlessly.”

Another important element of the region’s identity is visual design. Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo’s visual identity, regional icon and logo, was also one of the five global finalists shortlisted for Best Use of Design. This award is for brand identities rooted in creative approaches that work for the long term and across key audiences. Congratulations to Zuidoost District, Amsterdam for taking home the win in this category.

“This is just the beginning. Our region’s strength is in working together and how we will achieve our greatest success,” says Weidlich.

How can you get involved and champion Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo?

1. Access the Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo toolkit. 

2. Share what makes this place home for you using #myFMWB.

3. Connect with us. If you’re passionate about our region we want to hear from you.

About City Nation Place

City Nation Place provides information and inspiration to place branding teams around the world – whether you are working to promote the reputation of your city, region or nation, to promote tourism, attract talent or investment, or increase economic competitiveness.

Best Citizen Engagement Award Criteria

This category is all about the people factor: a place brand is all about its people and requires the support and endorsement of the citizens. Our Jury are keen to hear how place brand teams are proactively engaging with their citizens through research and communication to understand the essence of their place brand, and to ensure buy-in for the vision for place-making, tourism development, and economic development. Or alternatively, perhaps you have had a stellar strategy to promote civic pride and community spirit during the pandemic that has generated positive momentum around your place brand identity - places which are able to demonstrate that their citizens are actively supporting and collaborating with the place branding approach will do well in this category!

City/Nation/Place - Best Citizen Engagement Award

Previous Awards

Award of Excellence, Economic Developers of Alberta (2021)

Award of Distinction, Advertising Club of Edmonton (2021)

Multimedia/ Video Promotion Award (Bronze), International Economic Development Council (IEDC) (2021)

Special Purpose Website Award (Bronze), International Economic Development Council (IEDC) (2021)