Many aboriginal groups are being left out of the process and run over in the race for development of the tar sands. First Nations in Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories have claimed that traditional lands are being destroyed for tar sands exploration and extraction, and First Nations are not being included, or properly compensated for their lost and destroyed lands and water supplies.
In particular, the planned construction of the MacKenzie Gas Project to provide more natural gas from the High Arctic to fuel the Alberta tar sands development has serious implications for Aboriginal peoples, especially the Dehcho First Nation, who have not yet negotiated a land claim settlement with the federal government. The government views their land as a resource bonanza for oil, gas, and subsurface minerals, and intends to extinguish their Aboriginal rights to the land mass over which 40 percent of the proposed gas pipeline will pass.
The Akaitcho Dene First Nations were strong-armed into not claiming areas where exploration companies want to look for uranium within sacred land in the Thelon Basin of the Northwest Territories. Uranium found in these areas would likely go to nuclear power plants which are to be built in Northern Alberta; power which is needed to extract the tar sands oil.
In Fort Chipewyan, Aboriginal people have reported large increases in cancer rates since the production of the tar sands upstream from their home has been increasing. Additionally, the fish have become sick and inedible, and their environment has slowly become polluted to the point that many residents will no longer drink the water. The regulations of what can be put into the Athabasca from the tar sands extraction sites are far too high. The health and well-being of these people is being sacrificed for economic gain.
On June 25, 2007, the Woodland Cree First Nation filed an intervention with the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board with regard to Shell Canada's Carmon Creek Oil Sands project located near Peace River, Alberta. This project is located within the Traditional Territory of the Woodland Cree and is very close to its main Reserve at Cadotte Lake. An eight fold expansion of the project is planned and approved, despite the potential to cause very significant adverse impacts to the Woodland Cree’s Treaty 8 agreement and Aboriginal rights.