Sleeping with the Devil
In one generation the Indigenous people of Fort McKay First Nation have tenuously embraced the destruction of their traditional land as they have transitioned from a hunting and gathering way of life to an economy based on oil extraction. On the Athabasca river in northern Alberta, the Cree, Dene, and Metis people were once the historic backbone of Canada's fur trade. Today, the Hudson’s Bay Company is only a memory, replaced by the likes of Syncrude, Shell, Imperial Oil and Suncor, formerly the Great Canadian Oil Sands, which on June 6, 1970, spilled 19,000 barrels of oil from a ruptured pipeline into the
river. 30km downstream the people of Fort McKay fished to feed their families.
The latter was once called the Great Canadian Oil Sands and has been exploiting the wealth of the region for decades. In June 6, 1970 one of their pipeline ruptured and spilled 19,000 barrels of oil into the river, upstream of where the people of Fort McKay fished to feed their families.
Today Fort McKay First Nation (pop. 800) is surrounded by Oilsands developments, collectively the largest industrial operation in the world. With the collapse of the fur trade and a growing inability to live off the increasingly polluted land, they were faced with a choice; work for the oil companies or fall into a welfare economy that plagues reserves across Canada.
Sleeping with the Devil examines the transitory state of the community of Fort McKay. Prospering within a system that is destroying the very land that is at the heart of their identity
they negotiate an inner conflict as their values, health and culture are decimated in return for a standard of living most Canadians take for granted.