Quarterly News - June 2021

Welcome to the sixth issue of our Quarterly News.

The future of this region is being successful—together. Economic development is beyond the control of any one organization or sector. We are committed to working in alignment with our shareholder, stakeholders, and Rights holders, to generate the change needed to build a new road for economic development in the region. The co-creation of our inaugural Five-Year Strategic Plan will help us shape the economic development ecosystem in the region as we move forward together.

Region wins awards for community developed Place Brand

As stewards of the community Place Brand, FMWBEDT was honoured to accept awards from Economic Developers of Alberta (EDA) and the Advertising Club of Edmonton (ACE) on behalf of the region.

These awards recognize and celebrate the uniqueness, creativity and authenticity of our community-wide place brand. We received an Award of Excellence from EDA that recognizes the integrated launch of our region’s place brand which included our digital community toolkit (, our in-region marketing campaign (the place we’re proud to call home), and targeted workshops. The Award of Distinction from ACE also recognized our in-region marketing campaign, specifically our Direct Marketing piece, the regional viewfinder frame that encouraged the community to get out and share what makes our place home to them.

As we begin to share the place brand outside of our region, these awards begin to demonstrate that together we will change the reputation of Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo.

award and booklet

Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo merch now available!

We have received overwhelming messages from the community about place brand retail items. We heard you! We are excited to share that official Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo mugs, hoodies and crewnecks are now available at the Fort McMurray Heritage Gift Shop, on 1 Tolen Drive, Fort McMurray. Crewnecks are available in a variety of sizes – including youth – and new seasonal items will be added shortly!

While you’re at the Gift Shop, discover their large range of local products and souvenirs. Proceeds from the Heritage Gift Shop support the operations of Heritage Village and Heritage Shipyard, the work to preserve our past for the next generation.

Not in town? Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo merchandise will be available for order online later this year!

father and child walk hand in hand wearing matching FMWB sweaters

Back Home Again, an animated short film to promote mental health awareness

Together with the Canadian Red Cross, the Canadian Mental Health Association and Paul Davis Restoration Inc., we have joined forces to bring to life Back Home Again, an animated short film with an all-star voice cast.

Back Home Again is an animated short film inspired by the Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo wildfire and was created with the hope to build mental health awareness and spark conversations in communities across Canada and around the world.

The fire was the first time our region was seen as a place for families when evacuating across the country; the world will now get to see this side that doesn’t get talked about enough. Writer, Director and Creator - Michael Mankowski was born and raised in Fort McMurray and wanted to show the world how a community can come together and rebuild.

On Tuesday, July 6th you can tune in to for a special conversation about the film and mental health. The official trailer for Back Home Again will be debuted globally in the coming weeks. This will kick off a summer long educational campaign that will reach communities all around the globe prior to the film’s debut this fall. All screenings of the film will be FREE in the hopes to get as many people around the world to experience it first-hand, and join in the conversation about mental health.

The animated short film will be available for viewing with subtitles in several languages, including Dene and Cree.

back home again movie poster

Taking a focused look at reconciliation and inclusion

Meaningful relationships, built on trust and respect, serve as the foundation for economic reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo is a world-leader in Indigenous enterprise and economic participation, making Indigenous businesses significant contributors to our local economy. Doing business together will create stronger outcomes for our region as a whole.

As we listen, learn and reflect, we are at our initial stages of understanding how our organization will participate in meaningful engagement, economic reconciliation and setting a culture of inclusion. In addition to the co-creation of our Five-Year Strategic Plan, FMWBEDT is taking a focused look at reconciliation and inclusion. To support our journey, we recently launched an Indigenous Inclusion Committee and look forward to establishing our road map in the months ahead.

Pursuing economic development and tourism opportunities, together


On June 4th, FMWBEDT signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the McMurray Métis – marking our first formal collaboration with an Indigenous community.

Together, we will focus on building on the areas that bring measurable and meaningful benefit to both organizations. The McMurray Métis’ knowledge, insights, and perspectives are integral to the future of economic development and tourism for the region.

Next steps will include establishing an Implementation Committee and creating an Economic Development and Indigenous Tourism Action Plan to identify and respond to immediate and long-term economic opportunities in Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo.

Dark Sky Experiences in Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo

Our region has so much to offer residents and tourists alike. Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo is one of the best places to take in the majestic northern lights – one of the world’s seven natural wonders. That alone would be enough to make us feel spoiled. But there’s so much more. Our northern location gives us other unique advantages – such as the opportunity to witness a once in 50 year eclipse event.

Earlier this month Tourism hosted a Dark Sky/ Solar Eclipse Discovery tour at Andrew Lake Lodge. Together with local urban stargazer Jon Tupper and several videographers we travelled to the most northern part of our region to capture the partial Solar Eclipse event visible on June 10th. Our northern location gave us a very unique position to watch this incredible event. The photos and videos captured on this trip will become the base for our Dark Sky experience programming. We’re working with select northern lodges to offer this experience in 2022.

Did you know?

Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo is home to the world’s largest dark sky preserve.

Ready. Set. START.

Startup YMM is opening this fall!

Our new space is the hub of creative energy and entrepreneur support. Roll up your sleeves, build the skills you need to get your idea off the ground, and overcome big challenges with the encouragement of like-minded starters working alongside you.

Startup YMM’s community of inventors, entrepreneurs and mentors is set to inspire you to take your idea to a whole new level.

Start thinking like an entrepreneur.


Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo Labour Study Presentation

The Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo Labour Study Report will be presented to the community on Wednesday August 4, 2021

The report provides a five-year forecast of labour market needs - highlighting future training requirements, hiring demands and attraction and retention practices.

The report will be available on our website following the event.


All of the initiatives we’ve delivered to date have laid the foundation for our new road ahead.

I invite you to review FMWBEDT’s 2020 Annual Report. This report reflects on the significant work and accomplishments that are helping to change our region’s reputation.

We look forward to continuing the co-creation of our inaugural Five-Year Strategic Plan with you.


Kevin Weidlich, CEO Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo Economic Development & Tourism LinkedIn

Impacts on our region

Alberta is expected to move forward with Step 3 of Alberta’s re-opening plan tomorrow, July 1st. Oil sentiment and price momentum remain extremely positive. Increasing global oil demand is forecasted to keep climbing and reach pre-pandemic levels in 2022. The following captures our status as we end Stage 2 of Alberta’s relaunch.


Source: as of June 28, 2021


OIL PRICES: Western Canadian Select Crude

Source: as of June 28, 2021



Brought to you in partnership with the Oil Sands Community Alliance (OSCA)

Indigenous Peoples, communities and businesses are foundational to Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo—and have been for thousands of years. They have also been fundamental to the successful development of the oil sands industry.

Oil sands companies work to maintain mutually beneficial and authentic relationships with stakeholders and Indigenous Peoples and communities in the Athabasca oil sands region. Some of the ways we do this is by building trust, valuing Indigenous worldviews and traditional knowledge; partnering with Indigenous businesses and communities; and strengthening the role of Indigenous Peoples and youth in our workforce.

Indigenous supply chain businesses contribute to oil sands operations in a variety of areas and the top three categories continue to be camps and catering, construction and equipment services.

73% of the total Indigenous procurement spend by oil sands companies is in the Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo region.

Quick fact: In 2019, local Indigenous companies had direct business valued at $1.7B with oil sands operators. This was 22 per cent higher than in 2018 (about $1.4 billion) and 45 per cent higher than in 2017. Source: OSCA

 The oil sands industry aspires to engage and achieve workforce diversity that is representative of the people and communities where they operate. This includes working on educational, internship, employment and training programs. Read more here.

 It is imperative that we continue working with communities to advance participation of Indigenous peoples in the region’s workforce.

Did you know

As Indigenous businesses grow their participation in resource development, Indigenous Peoples are a growing proportion of oil and natural gas employment, making up 7.4 per cent of the industry’s workforce in 2019 (up from 4.8 per cent in 2018). Source: OSCA

Oil machinery in the winter at dusk