​Fort McKay First Nation Chief Jim Boucher named 2018 Canadian Energy Person of the Year

Fort McKay First Nation Chief Jim Boucher. Image: Joey Podlubny/JWN

The Energy Council of Canada has chosen Fort McKay First Nation Chief Jim Boucher as its 19th Canadian Energy Person of the Year.

Boucher, who was first elected chief of Fort McKay in 1986, is being celebrated for “remarkable accomplishments” that have made him a foundational leader in his community and in the development of Canada’s oilsands.

“No one else knows more about balancing the challenges and opportunities of oilsands development than Chief Jim Boucher,” Energy Council president Jacob Irving said in a statement.

“There couldn't be a clearer choice for the 2018 Canadian Energy Person of the Year.”

Fort McKay First Nation's majority-owned businesses have grown into some of the most successful First Nation-owned ventures in Canada, together earning an average gross annual revenue of $1.7 billion in the last 5 years.

Boucher was a driving force in the 2017 milestone investment of Fort McKay and the Mikisew Cree First Nation, where the two communities took a $503 million, 49 percent interest in Suncor Energy’s East Tank Farm, part of the new Fort Hills oilsands mining project.

The Energy Council says this transaction built upon on a foundation of trust and collaboration and serves as a model for how First Nations and resource development companies can work together to achieve mutual long-term benefit.

In March, the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business named Fort McKay First Nation as the recipient of the CCAB 2018 Aboriginal Economic Development Corporation of the Year Award.

The success of Boucher's vision is truly demonstrated within the community of Fort McKay itself, the Energy Council says.

“Fort McKay First Nation offers a multitude of services such as a heath care centre, family support centre, continuing care facility, youth centre, broadcast station, and a community arena. Fort McKay First Nation currently experiences no unemployment and enjoys a per capita average annual income of $73,500, which is higher than both the Alberta and Canada average,” the Energy Council said in a statement.

The award will be presented to Boucher at a celebration in Calgary in November.

Last year’s Energy Person of the Year was Enbridge CEO Al Monaco, who was recognized for this leadership role in the company’s merger with Spectra Energy, as well as “helping to shape the public conversation around striking the balance between meeting our collective need for affordable energy while making the transition to a lower-carbon future.”